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A Joshua Tree Oasis of Cool

Rae Michalik's Airbnb, The Flamingo Social Club

April 27, 2020
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A Joshua Tree Oasis of Cool

Rae Michalik's Airbnb, The Flamingo Social Club

April 27, 2020

Rae Michalik had vision when she lucked out on a place in the Joshua Tree desert and saw in its dark, dated interiors a bohemian oasis Airbnb. Rae filled us in on the transformation on the space she has dubbed The Flamingo Social Club. Come inside, take off your shoes, and hang up your coat. Rae's about to give us the tour.


Design: Rae Michalik | Flush mount: Jade by Mitzi

Can you tell us about these accent walls? Some of them almost feel like a seventies-style throwback with monochrome layers of landscape. Others are decidedly contemporary.

Our color palette for the living room was pretty clear: pinks, neutrals, earth tones, and yellow—although the yellow touches are more subtle with pillows and wall hangings. We wanted to pull it for the entryway for more of a statement. Technically, the kitchen and living room are one big room so we wanted it to feel separate yet cohesive, which we tied the pinks/earth tones in with the wallpaper. The feel for the guest room is more fun, bright, and 70s vibe with the landscape mural with a local artist, Nikki Joiner. Originally the master bedroom was completely white, and although that works for some people (and many homes in the desert), it felt like a blank canvas to me, and at the last minute I painted the blue mural and navy wall.


Design: Rae Michalik | Ariel by Mitzi

The overall feel is mid-century modern meets boho bungalow—does that sound about right? Is that a style that you usually crush on, or did it feel like the right fit for this space? Do you feel like materials like rattan and malacca really contributed to that vibe?

My personal taste actually leans heavily on bohemian and ’70s but I wanted to break it up with mid-century modern pieces to make it feel more current and not so kitschy. We wanted to honor that clean, bright, Joshua Tree style, but punch it up by adding color and glam elements, such as the golds and brasses. When we were nearing the finish line, we visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water in Pennsylvania and were excited to see that our impulses had a meaningful historical context as well.


Design: Rae Michalik | Lamp: Milla by Mitzi

This place was dark and decades outdated. How did you envision such a light-filled contemporary space/transformation?

For being such a small space, we wanted it to feel bright, homey, and somewhere you’d love to wake up. We knocked out windows to make sliding glass doors, added a window in the master bedroom, and added much more lighting than there was originally.



 


Design: Rae Michalik | Avery family by Mitzi

The color you went with in the kitchen is so refreshing and complements the rest of the house without being repeated elsewhere. Can you tell us more how you came to that color and that choice?

Overall our goal was to keep the openness of the combined kitchen and living room space, but create a visual contrast. When looking for inspiration for our kitchen, time and time again we were drawn to this muted peacock color which we knew would also complement the pink accents throughout the house. We just loved the rich look of walnut for the countertops to contrast with the lighter woods in the living room.

We pivoted on the exact color multiple times before landing on Behr Juniper Berry, which was just dark enough to highlight the brass cabinet pulls.


 


Design: Rae Michalik | Avery flush mount by Mitzi

“Moments:” Did you think in terms of Instagrammable moments/vignettes? What is one of your favorites?

Being a content creator, it was really important to me that everywhere you looked it’d be a different backdrop for a photo. My favorite moment would definitely be the view from the hallway into the kitchen and dining room.


Design: Rae Michalik | Avery pendant by Mitzi

The whole space feels like a beautiful continuation of the landscape. You really get that sense from one of the bedrooms, with the swingchair hanging on the deck outside the glass doors. Were you trying to bring the landscape in?

The property is unique in that acreage extends from the side of the house. From the beginning we envisioned that the two bedrooms would be the access point to the outdoor experience. So there were two goals in the decorative process: We wanted to bring in the calm of the desert and honor the Joshua Tree setting, and we also wanted to hint at an adventure that keeps extending from the rooms outward into the land. From the rooms, you’re teased out onto the deck, from the deck, you’re drawn down a stone path to the custom jacuzzi deck and firepit, and from there a dirt path lures you out to the dock.

Another discovery is always just around the corner.



 


Design: Rae Michalik | Pendant: Kyla by Mitzi | Lamps: Margot by Mitzi

Speaking of a sense of place, The Flamingo Social Club is in Flamingo Heights, adjacent to Joshua Tree, right? Is there a feeling of a community of creative people there trying to get some roots down and make something fresh and valuable there? How did you come to this space and decide to make this Airbnb?

We honestly were super lucky in finding our place. We have a few distant neighbors but on one side and behind the home are huge undeveloped tracts of land, making you feel as though you’re completely remote. And yet, just three minutes down the road is Giant Rock Meeting Room, our local coffee shop that also has events on the weekends with great food, live music, and brings the community together. Next door to the coffee shop is Moon Wind Trading Co., a beautiful boutique with local artists and vintage clothing, accessories, and homewares, owned by wonderful creatives that have made their home here. Just past Moon Wind is La Copine, the trendiest restaurant in the desert. It’s LA level food, a great scene, and always packed.

It’s a very tiny community but definitely one filled with creatives, whether it’s artists, musicians, writers, chefs. When we bought the home, it was a personal experience that we were pursuing—late nights by an outdoor fire, or under the stars in the hot tub—but the friendships we’ve made in the community that have brought so much joy to the experience.


 

What was one of the biggest challenges you faced? How do you feel Mitzi helped?

The bathroom was definitely a huge challenge. They had super bulky tile work with a strange shower/bathtub that they had made themselves. It was gray and dark—with only one tiny window. We gutted the entire thing, used pink tile, a pocket door to give more space, but most importantly—the lighting is everything. We added two sconces around the mirror and a ceiling light—trust me, you’ll love the way you look in that mirror ;)


 


Design: Rae Michalik | Lights: Estee by Mitzi

Photos by Kerry Puckett and Kamil Zelezik