Lonely Planet Writer

These rusty cabins in Joshua Tree are upcycled vacation homes

Deep in the California desert is one unlikely set of barns – which you can rent for a stay. Set in the heart of Joshua Tree National Park, the Folly cabins are a pair of off-grid, rusted barns which have been turned into a holiday home. These stunning, rusted buildings stand like sculptures in the middle of the barren desert, but are more than just pretty.

The holiday home is in Joshua Tree National Park. Image by Sam Frost/f Folly

The cabins have been redesigned by Malek Alqadi, the founder of Los Angeles-based firm Cohesion Studio, to accommodate guests. While the buildings were initially built in 1954, they were abandoned. To Alqadi, the goal was to breathe new life into an overlooked and underused space—almost like upcycling an abandoned barn.

The outdoor terrace. Image by Sam Frost/Folly

“As a designer, I felt the compulsion to help these spaces be ‘remembered’ and enjoyed by many people,” said the designer. “When I came across the homestead near this alien-like national park, I was incredibly excited to take a dilapidated structure and explore the possibilities using technology and materials to honor its surroundings.”

The giant bathtub. Image by Sam Frost/Folly

The new design has a minimal touch, adding plywood walls, new windows, sleek furniture and an outdoor terrace to soak up the sun. There is also a rain shower and a big bathtub on both premises. There is a skylight in the bedroom and a retractable, semi-open roof for open-air stargazing at night. Between the two buildings is an outdoor fireplace for group bonfires.

The minimalist interior. Image by Sam Frost/Folly

These solar-powered cabins are powered by a photovoltaic power generator, provide Wi-Fi and the eco-friendly greywater system. At night, a bio-ethanol fireplace keeps the cabins warm (besides the bonfire, of course). They’re available to rent on Airbnb for US$295 (€253) a night for an unforgettable experience in the smack dab center of the desert.

The sleek bathroom. Image by Sam Frost/Folly

“We wanted to create an unconventional off-grid experience without compromising design or functionality,” said the project’s co-founder Hillary Flur. “The cabin is fully equipped with technology that ranges from iPad controlled lights to remote lock systems. Every design decision was made with the user in mind.”