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After a decade of renovating both long-term and short-term rentals, Nolina Burge has learned a thing or two. A painter by trade, she’s flipped properties from Idaho to California, using her artistic training to add charm into otherwise derelict properties. 

“It’s my day job and side hustle at the same time,” she says. “I’ve always been into real estate, design, and art. It’s been a way to make money and do something creative.” In 2010, the Art Center College of Design graduate moved from Los Angeles to Idaho. “It was right after the housing marketing crash,” she recalls. “So, we bought a few properties up there to redo, flip, and rent.” One such home was halfway done, partially renovated by the previous homeowner. 

California Calling

While Idaho offered wonderful real estate opportunities and Burge still owns a motel in Boise, she and her husband were missing California. They came to Yucca Valley at the right time. “A lot was happening there and we had friends there from the Art Center and LA,” she says. While the valley has grown steadily in popularity, “it’s still a great place for a second home. There are a lot of things to do there like music, art, relaxing, and exploring the desert sights,” she adds.  

Their first home, which lacked both heat and air, a kitchen and fully functioning bathrooms, had them hooked once again on renovating. “We fixed it up and said ‘Hey, let’s do another,'” she recalls.

Desert Dreams

Their latest remodel was a major transformation. The house had nothing in it besides an old bathroom and some dividing walls. “The roof was non-existent,” she says. “There was plywood, but no real roofing, no windows, and the power had been shut off for many years and was never restored.” The home’s “shell” also provided a challenge with concrete block walls. 

The home left much to the imagination, but the location, three acres dotted with Joshua trees, was a steal. “We were happy to bring it back to life,” Burge says. 


Getting Inspired

They did all new landscaping, poured a patio, and placed more desert plans around the home. Plus, they cleaned out the garage, which had been a nest for rats and pigeons. When it came to the kitchen, she initially looked to Semihandmade, which she had used in four or five previous projects, but went with BOXI by Semihandamde for its quick shipping. “I was going to do Semihandmade’s DIY Slab with a custom paint color, but there were no IKEA cabinets in stock at all,” she adds. 

The home’s black windows, dark beams, and black fireplace tile led her to continue the “moody, sexy” palette with a BOXI Peppercorn Edge kitchen. “It was a fun, dramatic house to do with dark stained concrete floor,” she says. “It aligns with the desert and the surrounding landscape.”


Design In Mind

Burge designed the kitchen herself. “I’ve done six or seven kitchens at this point,” she says. To make the kitchen functional, she went for 36″ drawers. “They are so big and you can put all of your pots and pans in one drawer. You see everything at once and don’t have to dig around.”

The small kitchen had to work for both cooking and storage, Burge says. A deep black sink from Kohler, a compact refrigerator, built-in pantry, wall oven, and Lewis Dolin hardware from Semihadmade finish the space. “So many desert kitchens I have seen are so simple with no storage,” she says. “I wanted it to work as if someone was living here.”

Small Space Challenges

Working within the small layout was a challenge in itself. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom home’s galley kitchen had to be compact, user-friendly, and clutter-free. Furthermore, the block walls were tough. “You can’t just cut in and placce the electrical. We had to put conduits on the outside and pre-plan as the walls were already there.”

With this rental completed, Burge is already looking forward. She has two properties in development in Yucca Valley, which will comprise of up to six homes, and is excited to continue to design stylish, functional spaces. 


What’s the best paint color for my kitchen cabinets? How do I personalize my rental without renovating? Which interior design trends will stick around beyond 2021? How did marble become so popular in kitchen design (and should I splurge on my dream countertops)? Our interior design journeys are filled with questions which we at SemiStories attempt to answer every week through expert interviews, inspiring home tours, and trend reports. “Do As a Designer Does,” our monthly advice column, takes us behind the scenes of kitchen and bathroom design (and beyond) by spotlighting the best brains in the business. Here, we turn the microphone over to you to ask all your burning interior design, trend, and renovation questions to your favorite experts, from Sarah Sherman Samuel to Bobby Berk. Have a question? Shoot us a message on Instagram, or email us at for a chance to be featured! Have you ever wondered why certain details exist in your home? Maybe you’ve questioned who came up with the idea for forks, or perhaps you’ve contemplated how pantries have evolved over centuries—after all, both can be intriguing in their own right. The truth is, most of what we surround ourselves with at home has an interesting story to tell. In our monthly series “Design History” with (actual) design historian Amy Azzarito, we’ll explore the backstories of your favorite things. Home tours are intriguing for a reason: they give us a rare glimpse into the way other people live and inspire us to improve our own spaces. Maybe it’ll motivate you to paint your laundry room a bright sunshine yellow, persuade you a stacked teal backsplash is the way to go, or convince you the entryway is the perfect place for a gumball machine (hey, why not?). Whatever you take away, we have no doubt you’ll get tons of kitchen and bathroom design ideas to bring home. Are farmhouse islands here to stay? What will be the biggest interior design and hardware trends in 2021? Will the pandemic affect what homes of the future look like? Our weekly trend stories will keep your finger on the pulse of interior design, renovating, and more.