arro dune home tour

Studio Marrant's Kelsey Coppetti renovated the space with calming neutrals and organic textures inspired by the surrounding landscape.

| By Rachael Thompson | Home tours

This Unique Joshua Tree Airbnb Is Immersed in the Desert

Studio Marrant's Kelsey Coppetti renovated the space with calming neutrals and organic textures inspired by the surrounding landscape.

Welcome to The Makers. Each week, we celebrate innovators, artisans, and crafters of all types by taking you on a private tour of their creative spaces. For this instalment, we tour Arro Dunes, an Airbnb in Joshua Tree conceived by interior designer Kelsey Coppetti.

Celebrated for its distinct trees and mesmerising sunrises and sunsets, Joshua Tree has become an increasingly popular holiday destination over the last few decades. There is no shortage of Airbnbs in the national park, so for interior designer Kelsey Coppetti of Studio Marrant this meant creating a unique property was of the utmost importance.

Alongside partner Dustyn, who is the other half of Studio Marrant, she sensitively restored a once abandoned dessert home into an ultra-chic Airbnb. "We were looking for a home in Joshua Tree that felt very immersed in the surrounding desert – something that truly felt unique in a sea of ever-growing cookie-cutter type Airbnbs and short-term rentals," she shares with Bed Threads Journal.

The property, dubbed Arro Dunes, was the catalyst for starting their own interior design and creative studio. "When we purchased the property that is now Arro Dunes, it was with the intention we’d use it as a jumping-off point for an interior design and creative studio and pour our creative hearts into the space." Prior to this, Kelsey worked in digital agencies and marketing but had always invested in good design on the side. She decided to take the plunge and create a hospitality space the pair could share with others.

The pair completely gutted the house that sits on 10 unfenced acres, overlaying it with a desert meets wabi-sabi design that's also refreshingly modern. A neutral palette and smart use of organic textures can be seen inside, with stucco walls, woven rugs, timber furniture, and timber ceiling beams. "We wanted to honour the desert fauna that encompasses the house with palette-similar organic and natural objects inside," she says.

Kelsey has a decade of experience with ceramics and has peppered the home with her own sculpture and lamp designs. The abode has also been decorated with antiques which bring added warmth to the space. White linen introduces a fresh and clean look to the primary bedroom, while French doors provide a connection to the outdoors where guests can unwind on the timber deck under the Joshua Tree sky.

We spoke to Kelsey about the renovations made to Arro Dunes, her favourite room in the house, and her upcoming projects.

Shop Kelsey's Coppetti's home edit.

Oatmeal Throw.

Hi Kelsey! This series is called The Makers. What is it that you make?

We focus mainly on interior design and exterior design, but we’re very hands-on with the entire process, so if we can’t find the right furniture piece, we’ll make it ourselves or we’ll build our own custom millwork pieces, entirely landscape a yard, weld our own planter beds and fence, or refurbish old windows.

Dustyn (my husband and the other half of Studio Marrant) brings a wealth of knowledge in fabrication and building and I am an interior designer. I also have a decade of experience with ceramics and my own little at-home studio, and I made some of the sculpture and lamp pieces in the home.

How does the act of “making” relate to your personality and who you are?

There’s always been a fairly large communication gap between designers and builders. In the architecture world, it’s common that those who can draw a space, don’t know how to build it and vice-versa. Designing without an awareness or understanding of materials puts you in a tricky position, just like having the materials, but not knowing how to apply them. That sets us apart. We always have a huge drive to make and build things on our own, which gives us a unique insight into materials, fabrication, and production. I’m very hands-on, driven, and often feel unsettled if I’m not actively working on something, so being part of not only the design of the space but also the production is almost necessary for me.

Tell us about your career journey to date. Did you always know you wanted to pursue this line of work?

Arro Dunes threw me into the interior design world. Before this, I was working in digital agencies and marketing but always invested in good design on the side. But, I knew there was something more there for me. Dustyn has been in the design/build world for over a decade. When we purchased the property that is now Arro Dunes, it was with the intention we’d use it as a jumping-off point for an interior design and creative studio and pour our creative hearts into the space. When Dustyn and I met 6 years ago, we really bonded over wanting to design and build a hospitality space that we can share with others and I’m very proud we were able to hone in on and succeed at that together.

Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?

I start with the design challenges and the needs of the client or our own. Knowing that right off the bat creates an understanding of the space and with the clients. Admittedly it’s not a super sexy way to start a creative vision, but it's a great jumping-off point that triggers many other design decisions going forward.

What’s been the most challenging lesson learnt so far in your career?

Patience. Wow, I’d pay good money if I could buy it. I’m a fast-paced, doing-20-things-at-once person, and this industry is one of the most slow-moving industries, with the pandemic only making it slower. Being very transparent upfront with clients about that from the start is crucial.

What’s been the best thing that’s happened to you since you started your career?

This Arro Dunes project! It’s been such a huge career catapult for us.

Do you have a single piece of advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue a similar line of work?

Trust the process. I’ve really settled into the mantra that everything comes in due time (there’s a joke in here somewhere about pandemic-related long lead times). Continue to put your wholehearted intentions into what you want or do and it will come if it is right. If it doesn’t, find a way to pivot; every closed door is an opportunity to reassess what’s not working and try different solutions – there’s never just one. Things may get tough, but they should always bring you happiness and fulfilment if it’s right.

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Did you do any renovations or make any big changes after moving in?

We fully gutted the home. Dustyn and I did most of the demo – tore down ceilings, opened walls, removed asbestos flooring, tore out dead trees, and gutted the bathroom and kitchen. We hired a contractor to bring the home up to code with all new plumbing, electrical, roofing, built-in style bathroom and kitchen, and smooth exterior stucco.

Then we did all the finishing touches – installed flooring and tile, refurbished windows, limewashed and plaster clay the walls, built planter beds and fences, landscaped the yard, built the deck and walk through bookshelf wall, custom-built all the interior doors and front door, and a large handful of other projects.

What was the thought process behind the way you’ve styled the interior?

We wanted to honour the desert fauna that encompasses the house with palette-similar organic and natural objects inside. We’re also big antique junkies so the objects inside are a good mix of old and new. We ride a fine line of old things we probably shouldn’t put in a high traffic Airbnb but so far we’ve only had appreciation from guests who have respect for the space. Antiques bring so much warmth, depth and a room full of stories, that they’re almost a non-negotiable for me when designing.

What are your favourite pieces in the home?

The antique pine credenza in the living room, travertine basin sink we scored off Craigslist, antique Spanish cabinet in the bedroom and stone bowl we made into a sink for the bathroom.

Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add?

As we were designing, I thought about how Airbnbs can feel solidified in their design, almost like a one-and-done approach. So, I want it to be a space that accepts change as a rotating door to design. It’s a small home and we’re cognizant about over-designing, so at this point, we’d likely make swap-ins for new pieces but for now, we’re in love with everything in the home and letting the add-ins be organic.

Which is your favourite room in the house?

Probably the living room – that window and fireplace are very immersive and dramatic which I’m always looking for in design.

Do you have any projects coming up you want to talk about?

We’re focusing on a renovation of our own home, which I’m very excited about. I find designing for your own home is one of the hardest, but we have big plans for a kitchen and bathroom remodel, installing faux beams, a full front and backyard redesign and some small projects. We’re doing most of the work ourselves and of course documenting it all on our @studiomarrant Instagram. Of course, dotting in some fun client projects too!

For more from Kelsey follow her @arrodunes and @_coppetti

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