4 Design Mantras From The Joshua Tree House (AKA The Dreamiest Home On Instagram)

Image by @thejoshuatreehouse

If you've ever scrolled through @thejoshuatreehouse Instagram account, chances are you've wanted to swap lives with Sara and Rich Combs for a bit. This week, the couple behind a dreamy pair of homes in the California desert opens their doors with a new book, At Home in Joshua Tree, which dives into their philosophy on all things home, ritual, and healing through nature. In this excerpt, we snagged the design mantras that they keep coming back to.

As we have designed our own home, as well as spaces for others to gather, we've kept a few mantras close at heart. Each one began as an instinct, but over time we took note of patterns and design elements that made spaces feel particularly warm and full of love. The goal with these mantras is not perfection. Part of what makes a home comforting are the imperfections, the scars, and the stories.

We call these mantras because they're meant to be repeated as subtle reminders throughout the design process. As with meditation, if our mind wanders—and it will—it's incredibly helpful to have a key thought to refer back to that keeps us on our path. These mantras guide many small decisions toward one cohesive design. As with most things, designing an entire home can feel daunting when imagining every detail at once. But when design is broken down into smaller decisions, guided by familiar daily routines within your home, the design process becomes much more comfortable.

When making decisions on materials to use or artwork to curate within your home, these mantras will be there with you as reminders that homes are meant to wear in, that it's possible for that to happen beautifully, and that the items within your home are meant to tell your story. While it's almost impossible to adhere to this list of mantras every single time you approach a project, we've found we're happiest with the overall look and feel of a space when we internally repeat them often.

Image by @thejoshuatreehouse

Combine the indoor and the outdoor.

First, we'll consider where your home is located. Every location has its own stories, so our first mantra is to blur indoor and outdoor space. Nature truly knows best and offers so much inspiration for the design process. We've found our connection to nature has been enhanced as we bring our favorite pieces outside and our favorite natural elements in. 

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Remember that your home should improve with use.

The next thing to remember is that a home's No. 1 purpose is to be used. It's your protection from the elements and your place to rest your head, refuel, and love. With that in mind, the next mantra is to curate a home that improves with use. This is a constant reminder that yes, wood will scratch and fabric will rip, but usually these things happen when we're living in the moment. While wear-and-tear is impossible to avoid, we can choose materials for our home that celebrate age. 

Image by @thejoshuatreehouse

Design for everyday moments.

Continuing on of the idea that a home is meant to be used, it's important to consider the actual functionality we desire from our homes as we design them. A home is merely an enclosed space without the experiences held within; therefore, our next mantra is to design for ordinary experiences. As we experience rituals and routines at home, our senses enhance every moment, resulting in sentimental memories. Everyday experiences such as conversation, reading, or eating shape our days and eventually our years.

Image by @thejoshuatreehouse

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Bring on the plants.

With every home, our final mantra is to always add plants (real ones). They're there to improve air quality, reduce noise, and give us something to nurture. Having something to care for creates more meaning in our lives and increases productivity in other areas. Plants make a home come alive, so we'll also be sharing some of our favorites for both inside and outside our home in the desert.

Reprinted with permission from At Home in Joshua Tree © 2018, by Sara Combs and Rich Combs, Running Press

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