In this Planet-Positive Properties series, I spotlight hotels and properties that prioritize the planet, so you can vacation at ease, knowing you are keeping your footprint small.
Today, we journey to Twentynine Palms, California, where a newly renovated 1950’s era desert abode proves you don’t have to sacrifice style for sustainability. Combining natural materials with minimalist décor and a Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic, Arro Dunes is a perfect example of how to design a home with the environment in mind.
Nestled just outside Joshua Tree, this modern Airbnb — built by the husband and wife team behind Los Angeles based interior and creative studio, Studio Marrant — is designed for slow, intentional living. Shaded by Tamarisk trees with 360-degree mountain views, the secluded desert pad sits on 10 unfenced acres once home to the Chemehuevi tribe.
The grounds are purposefully undisturbed, preserving the natural state of the landscape upon which the dwelling sits. The design reflects the natural elements of the property, a handsome contrast of wood, stone, sand and steel set against the backdrop of golden desert hues. The sound of a gentle breeze through the trees, and a symphony of birdsong provide the perfect soundtrack for your stay. At night, a fire pit and 100 square foot deck make for great spots to stargaze.
Designing with Natural Materials
Inside, the kitchen and bathroom are built out of Tadelakt, a plaster surface typically used in Moroccan architecture (think hammam baths), traditionally composed of lime plaster and black soap made from olives. When the ingredients are combined, a chemical reaction occurs, creating a waterproof membrane. This makes Tadelakt a suitable choice for wet areas such as showers and baths. Because it is composed of natural materials, it does not contain volatile organic compounds and is said to be naturally mold and mildew resistant. While it can be quite labour-intensive to install, the work pays off in spades with its superior durability.
The entire home is painted in limewash, a natural, non-toxic alternative to traditional household paints. The high pH level of limewash is said to inhibit microorganisms, and the chemical makeup helps improve interior air quality.
Incorporating Mindful Design
Sustainable design sits at the heart of this property and has been mindfully applied throughout the space. The home blends thoughtfully-curated antiques with minimalist modern décor and a Japanese wabi-sabi aesthetic. Furnishings are sourced locally, a conscious decision to bypass mass-consumerism of new products.
The interior design, with accents of desert flora and a neutral, earth-toned color palette, mirrors the desert landscape outside oversized dual pane windows. From the natural fibre textiles, to the reclaimed materials, and meticulously procured treasures, everything has intention behind it.
The bedrooms are outfitted with 100% flax linen bedding from Bed Threads, a 100% carbon neutral company that measures, reduces and offsets greenhouse gas emissions where possible. Flax requires less water and fewer pesticides to cultivate, making it an eco-friendly choice for textiles. The Queen size Tuft & Needle mattresses are an eco-friendly option from a brand that rigorously tests for off-gassing and indoor air quality compliance. In the bathroom, the Brooklinen towels are Standard 100 by OEKO-TEX, which tests for harmful substances and chemicals.
‘Forest Bathing’ is a term that emerged in Japan in the 80’s as a form of eco-therapy to reconnect with the natural world, recognizing that time spent immersed in nature is good for us. The practice can be as simple as walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with and observing what’s around you.
At Arro Dunes, opportunities to ground in nature and forest bathe are plentiful. In fact, you can quite literally bathe in nature in the 10-foot cowboy stock tank pool or the 100% energy-free wood burning hot tub. In the bathroom, you can connect with nature by opening the oversized windows and soaking in the tub while enjoying the mountain views and watching the sun go down.
Speaking of bathing, custom label bath products blended by Malin + Goetz in refillable amber glass pump bottles eliminate plastic waste, and are a beautiful apothecary-style accent in the shower.
Given the strong exposure of the desert sun, as much is charged off solar power as possible, with plans underway to integrate it more fully throughout the property in the near term. An electric charging station is expected to be installed in the short term to encourage electric vehicles. In the meantime, a 220V hook up is available provided EVs have their own cord.