It’s hard to believe that desert idyll Rancho Morongo was an abandoned ruin just two years ago. That was until California designer Kelly Kai got her hands on the 2.5-acre property and set about quietly reviving it, inside and out.
The 1954 Morongo Valley property – listed for $899,000 by Sasha Anthomé of Compass – had no interior walls, doors or windows, and its rooms were filled with piles of rubble (and according to Dwell, possibly bullet-holes!) But Kai saw the potential in the ranch house and its site, in the heart of the valley, just 15 minutes drive outside of Joshua Tree.
Using the views as her starting point, Kai inserted large picture and clerestory windows and sliding glass doors to give every room a landscape view. She also preserved whatever original features were intact inside the building, including cinderblock walls, timber ceilings and concrete floors.
Everything else she added herself, from crisply plastered walls and Crittall-style glass partitions, bespoke maple cabinetry and vintage home furnishing sourced from flea markets. The ranch has three bedrooms, two living rooms and a separate dining room. Rancho Morongo is listed on Airbnb, where Kai says it brings in between $8,000-$14,000 per month in rent – a tempting prospect for its future owner, who might want a second home that can earn its keep.