Kitchen of the Week: Neutral and Natural in Twentynine Palms, California

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Just a few years ago, Kelsey Coppetti was producing digital marketing campaigns for companies like Netflix, Uber, and Toyota. But she pivoted her career to interior design when she and her husband Dustyn, who conveniently has a construction background, decided to convert an abandoned 1940s home in the Mojave Desert into a tranquil getaway for short-term renters. The dramatic transformation (which took two years, thanks to pandemic delays) served as a perfect proof of concept for Studio Marrant, the duo’s Los Angeles-based design practice. Now, prospective clients have a prime example of the studio’s work.

More importantly, travelers visiting nearby Joshua Tree National Park can book a stay at the newly remodeled Twentynine Palms, California abode, which sits on 10 acres of mesquite-covered sand dunes. (To book, head to Airbnb.) Kelsey and Dustyn completely overhauled the stucco structure for their guests, replacing the (likely) asbestos floor tiles with engineered white oak planks, covering the walls in an earthy greige lime wash by Portola Paints, and restoring the original wood beams. They also maintained the historic brick fireplace in the center of the house.

The couple’s most impressive feat? Building a functional, eye-catching kitchen and dining zone in such a compact area. “It was a little tricky because when we walked in we were just like, where is the dining room? There was nowhere to sit, really,” Kelsey remembers. “We demoed a pantry and built in this bench in an effort to have more of a sitting space. And the kitchen layout was so small, so we wanted to keep everything as open as possible, so it feels bright and not so squished.”

Aesthetically, Kelsey and Dustyn were inspired by the dusty, arid surrounds, so they opted for a neutral color palette of beiges, browns, and terracottas. They also employed natural materials and incorporated vintage objects wherever possible, creating a cookspace that looks like it could have always been there.

Let’s take a tour.

Photography by Bethany Nauert and Victoria Aguirre.

arro dunes 1 0 Above: The first item that Kelsey and Dustyn purchased for the kitchen was the huge stone basin sink. It had been posted on Craigslist before they even started the renovation, but they knew they had to have it. “We found that sink on such a whim and so fast,” recalls Kelsey. “And I was just like, okay, the whole kitchen is getting built around the sink, no question. And then I found our burnished brass faucet on eBay, so that’s secondhand, too.”

Then, the duo crafted an L-shaped countertop and lower cupboards using tadelakt, an ancient Moroccan plaster that’s known for its waterproof quality. “It’s a little bit finicky as a surface, but it works for us,” Kelsey says. “We wanted that molded, organic look in here, with open cabinets, so it just was the perfect substance for us.”

arro dunes 2 1 Above: The floating shelves, as well as the cabinet fronts, are made of antique wood that Kelsey and Dustyn found at The Original Round Top Antiques Fair, a massive event that occurs four times a year in Texas. “Tons of vendors come from around the world, and it’s very dreamy,” Kelsey describes. “There was this guy selling architectural materials, so we grabbed a bunch of wooden boards, knowing we would use them for something in the house.” arro dunes 3 2 Above: The couple nestled a 24-inch Smeg refrigerator next to the space-saving banquette, which they outfitted with weathered chocolate leather cushions that were custom-made by an Etsy artisan. The two little vintage tables, with their iron bases and stone tops, are from Santa Ynez General. arro dunes 4 3 Above: When it came to backsplashes, Kelsey and Dustyn were thrifty. They repurposed leftover bathroom tile to line the tadelakt countertop and used a sheet of brass behind the stove. “It’s just something affordable that looked a bit unique, added a pop to the kitchen, and could easily be installed,” Kelsey says. “We literally went to a metal shop, bought a sheet of brass, and screwed it to the wall.”

“We don’t have insulation because we don’t have a built-in roof, and we have exposed beams, so we can’t fit any can lights inside the ceiling,” says Kelsey. Instead, the duo hung industrial pendants from the wall and swagged them over ceiling hooks for overhead illumination.

arro dunes 5 4 Above: For additional counter space, the couple affixed slabs of concrete to the center and sides of the old brick fireplace. “It’s the key moment, so we had to build around it and make it work,” Kelsey says of the original feature, which she and Dustyn converted from wood-burning to gas. arro dunes 6 5 Above: Rustic kitchen tools and stainless steel cookware from Great Jones double as decor when hung from a matte black rail.

For more kitchens (with brass backsplashes), might we suggest:

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