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Thinking green in a desert retreat
A house that seems to emerge from the boulders around it, blending seamlessly into the desert landscape, sits on a secluded San Bernardino County lot near Joshua Tree National Park.
The park, with its granite boulders and rock outcroppings, offered the inspiration for landscape architect W. Garett Carlson's unusual home design.
Built with sustainability in mind, faux boulder formations shelter the west side of the house, providing shade from the afternoon sun, and corrugated steel siding acts as additional insulation. A sloping roof that's covered with soil is planted with a variety of California wild flowers and grasses. From above the roof blends into the landscape, while below steel I-beams designed to withstand a magnitude 10 earthquake support the structure.
"I was on a hundred-mile bike ride, and had never been to Joshua Tree," says Carlson, who has designed gardens for celebrities, including Jack Nicholson, Johnny Depp and Goldie Hawn, as well as for commercial clients. "I fell in love with the area. I spent a year finding eight lots where I could build structures that would be green and blend with the site."
The Joshua Tree Boulder House, sitting on 2 1/2 acres, is the first of Carlson's creations.
"I planted 450 trees, which attract all kinds of wildlife, from jack rabbits to roadrunners," Carlson says. "There are no power poles. I put it all underground, so it's got beautiful views. It's a peaceful, magical place."
While the front of the home blends into the landscape, the rear opens to the outdoors with 10-foot, floor-to-ceiling pocket glass doors. A fire pit on one side of the patio and a water feature on the other are set within boulders as well.
Inside, an open floor plan connects the living room, dining room and kitchen on one side of the house with stained concrete flooring and a ceiling of tongue-and-groove Douglas fir that reflects the finish of the floor.
A low-energy thermal system keeps the floor warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
The kitchen has custom wood and glass cabinets, built-in wine cooler, Caesarstone countertops and glass mosaic backsplashes.
On the other side of the house are two bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The master bathroom features a deep soaker tub surrounded by blue glass tile.
The house is wired for Wi-Fi and sound, and all doors and windows feature double-pane "low-E" tinted glass.
To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution color photos with caption and credit information on a CD and a detailed description of the house to Lauren Beale, Business, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., L.A., CA 90012. Questions may be sent to homeoftheweek @latimes.com.