Couple converts $7,000 Joshua Tree cabin into a sophisticated desert oasis

April 19, 2018 by  
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When Kathrin and Brian Smirke decided to buy an abandoned property in the desert landscape of Joshua Tree for $7,000, they knew that they had a massive undertaking on their hands. The old cabin , which dated back to 1957, had been left rotting in the desert for years. But with a lot of vision and hard work, the ambitious duo converted the 480-square-foot homestead into a beautiful desert oasis. The couple chronicled the massive renovation project they lovingly call “The Shack Attack” on their blog, We Are in Our Element . The poor state of the structure meant gutting the interior down to the base boards to start fresh. Over a period of two years, the couple revamped the cabin into a beautiful desert home. “We spent over a year planning, demolishing, building, planning again, building, and then finally decorating this little gem,” Kathrin explains. “What makes this home special is that we did a lot of the work ourselves, including the design, complete demolition, framing, plumbing, trim electrical, and we even built a lot of the interior fixtures and art.” Related: Stunning Lucid Stead Cabin Reflects the Colors and Movements of the Mojave Desert The process was quite detailed, with the Smirkes focused on reducing the project’s footprint at every turn. They also had to deal with several building restrictions included in the sale of the property, namely not being allowed to increase the square footage of the structure. Nevertheless, they were determined to fit a comfortable living room, kitchen, full bathroom, and bedroom that would accommodate a king-size bed into the compact space . Using various reclaimed materials, they converted the space into a light-filled home. Large sliding glass doors in the entrance and the bedroom open the interior up to incredible views as well as an abundance of natural light. Additionally, they managed to salvage some materials from the original building – Brian created a few decorative pieces by repurposing timber from the original structure. In the kitchen, Kathrin and Brian formed and poured the concrete countertops themselves and made the floating shelves out of leftover clear pine and plywood. At the back of the home is a compact sleeping area that fits a comfortable king-size platform bed. Again, multiple windows in the room add a light and airy touch to the small space. To take full advantage of the desert landscape , the couple put a lot of work into creating a seamless connection between the interior and the exterior. A large covered porch offers stunning views. But, without a doubt, the heart of the project is the outdoor bathtub, an old water trough painted white. Surrounded by a wooden deck, this is the ultimate space for relaxing while the desert sun sets. The Shack Attack is available to rent via Airbnb throughout the year. + We Are in Our Element Via Dwell Images via We Are in Our Element

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Couple converts $7,000 Joshua Tree cabin into a sophisticated desert oasis

A unique community of modern green homes hug the desert floor in Utah

June 20, 2016 by  
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According to Joshua and Natsuko Shaffer, the couple behind Chibi Moku, Marten is a pioneer of “desert modern architecture .” Educated as an architect, Marten wanted to create homes that would protect the spectacular views, utilizing materials and colors that would blend in with the desert. The homes in Kayenta are low-lying, with plenty of windows so residents can appreciate the splendor that surrounds them. Related: Gorgeous desert home blurs the lines between indoor and outdoor living Marten brought the spirit of southern California to the Utah community. Kayenta began as ” a hybrid of beach culture and desert living ” and the homes in the community also have a southwestern flair. Kayenta homes incorporate a variety of ” energy-efficient features ” and draw on passive solar design . Some are equipped with solar panels. Builder Brent Smith summed up the vision behind the houses. He said, “It’s really important in architecture that a house grace the landscape, so when you see that house, and you have all the environment around it – the cliffs and everything else – it blends in.” The Shaffers describe Marten as “a very special man who never cared about money in his life.” Now in his 80’s, Marten has watched other like-minded people flock to Kayenta and embrace his dream. Some of the residents said in the documentary that since most have come to Kayenta from elsewhere, they all want to be there, and that’s part of what makes Kayenta such a special place to reside. The 2,000 acre Kayenta community is still open to new residents with lots of up to two acres. There’s also an inn there if people want to experience desert living without committing to living there full time. + Kayenta + Chibi Moku Images courtesy of Chibi Moku

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A unique community of modern green homes hug the desert floor in Utah

NASA confirms a second mini moon is circling Earth

June 20, 2016 by  
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For most relationships, 100 years is well past the point in time when you can ‘make it official,’ but for planets, it’s just right. After nearly a century in Earth’s orbit, a tiny asteroid has earned NASA’s recognition as Earth’s new “mini moon.” Measuring between 120 feet to 300 feet in diameter, the minuscule rock slowly circles the sun on a similar orbit as Earth and NASA scientists now reveal that it circles Earth as well – not entirely unlike the moon we already know and love. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbbAnVU4rmY NASA scientists estimate that Earth’s new playmate, known as “asteroid 2016 HO3,” has probably been around for about 100 years. It was first detected on April 27 by the Pan-STARRS 1 asteroid survey telescope on Haleakala, Hawaii, which is operated by the University of Hawaii’s Institute for Astronomy. Although the asteroid moon is currently in Earth’s orbit, it may not stay for long—at least in the grand scheme of the timeline of the universe. The asteroid’s own orbit has a unique pattern, doing a slow back-and-forth twist over multiple decades, and it’s expected to continue flirting with our green planet for at least a few more centuries. Related: NASA rolls out new asteroid detection program to defend Earth from destructive meteors Paul Chodas, manager of NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object (NEO) Studies at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explains that because of its distance, the new mini moon is a “quasi-satellite” of Earth rather than a true satellite. “The asteroid ‘s loops around Earth drift a little ahead or behind from year to year, but when they drift too far forward or backward, Earth’s gravity is just strong enough to reverse the drift and hold onto the asteroid so that it never wanders farther away than about 100 times the distance of the moon,” said Chodas. “The same effect also prevents the asteroid from approaching much closer than about 38 times the distance of the moon. In effect, this small asteroid is caught in a little dance with Earth.” Over the years, other asteroids have done a similar dance with our planet , but those were more like flings than long-term relationships, if we’re going to continue the metaphor. Over 10 years ago, asteroid 2003 YN107 followed a similar orbital pattern for a short time, according to Chodas, but it has since left Earth’s vicinity. “This new asteroid is much more locked onto us,” he said, predicting that it will stick around for “centuries to come.” + NASA Images via NASA/JPL-Caltech

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NASA confirms a second mini moon is circling Earth

8 gorgeous eco-friendly homes designed for the desert

September 22, 2015 by  
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