Quail’s End at Joshua Tree is a beautiful 1963 mid-century home located in Joshua Tree, CA. The peaceful Airbnb was renovated by designer Julia Chasman of Julia Chasman Design and features a Randolph Morris Cambridge Clawfoot Tub and two Randolph Morris Bridge Faucets in the master bath. We sat down with Julia to ask her some questions about the bathroom’s design and renovation.
VTB: Can you tell us a little bit about your design background?
Julia: I am self-taught, as this is my second career. Most of my learning was done by trial and error on my own homes, especially my House in Santa Monica, where I supervised a series of renovations and improvements. I also took several courses at UCLA Extension’s excellent Architecture and Design Program, where I learned to draw floor plans, and filled in most of the gaps in my knowledge about building, as well as home design. Buying and selling several homes after renovating and staging them completed my design education – but I’m always learning!
VTB: How would you describe your style?
Julia: Like most good designers now, I like to mix styles, and frankly don’t think there’s another good approach that yields as much satisfaction in happy results. I favor older houses and like to always include older furnishings and artwork in my mix, as well as referencing current trends. I do believe a house tells a story – hopefully of the residents who live there – and a story has many moving parts. So my style will always reference history as well as the present day. I also like color; as much as I can admire a neutral palette, I am more drawn to the joy that is expressed in color, and use it wherever it seems appropriate. I don’t think there are any rules when it comes to adding pops of color!
|The view from the tub is nothing short of gorgeous.|
VTB: When taking on a new client, how do you come up with your design ideas?
Julia: I like to get to know a new client so I can begin to express my impressions of them in my selections. This is a tricky business and often takes longer than you’d like to figure out. I usually start with their reactions to my previous work. If I know which of my homes or rooms they’ve responded to, I have a good basis for what they’re looking for. My ideas mostly come directly from the experience of spending time in their homes and seeing what I think is missing, or what would work in the space.
VTB: If a client has a different design style than you are used to, how do you adapt to the situation?
Julia: There are few styles I can’t adapt to. As long as there’s quality in their presentation, I can usually make it work. It’s sometimes difficult to incorporate items the client wants to include when I don’t really like them, but I feel it’s part of my job to figure out a way to include things that are important to my clients.
VTB: What was your inspiration for the Quail’s End bathroom?
Julia: I made a big decision to allocate a large space for this bathroom. It’s as big as either of the two adjoining bedrooms. I realized people weren’t likely to spend as much time in their bedrooms while in Joshua Tree and a place to relax and feel inspired would be worth the extra real estate I allocated to the bathroom. I also had an inspiration to create a wow factor for the bathroom, and here I was inspired by my travel to Europe, where one often sees a freestanding bathtub in the middle of a room – sometimes even a bedroom – but often a larger, sitting-room style bathroom. My wow factor is the centrally-placed double ended orange clawfoot tub; with no faucets getting in your way, room for a friend, and a wonderful hand-shower for rinsing off. To me, it’s the perfect tub! The bathroom is completed by the skylight installed directly above the bathtub. Originally I imagined visitors would be able to stargaze right from the tub, but, in reality, the skylight has more paid off in terms of the wonderful daylight that streams through as the sun passes over the house.
|Two Randolph Morris bathroom faucets completed the vanity.|
VTB: What was the biggest challenge you faced during the remodel?
Julia: Everything was a challenge in this house because building out in the high desert is just difficult! It’s hard to find good builders in the area, and it was hard to supervise because I live in Los Angeles, and had to travel to the site quite often to check on progress. The installation of the large walk-in shower was a particular challenge because the contractor kept getting the level of the floor, which must allow drainage, wrong. Originally I had sourced beautiful 1” square orange floor tiles for the shower. They were installed and had to be ripped out when the floor wasn’t right. When I tried to find more I couldn’t get them anymore! The other orange tiles that were available just didn’t look right to me, so I went with small marble hexes. Sometimes I think of that lovely orange tile with regret!
VTB: The orange chaise is interesting. What’s the story behind that piece?
Julia: I wanted the bathroom to have space to lounge outside of the tub and shower, and I’ve always loved a chaise longue. I prefer older ones, and I found this one in an auction lot at Abell Auctions in City of Industry, in one of their weekly auctions. The lot also included an older armchair, as well. I think I paid about $200 for both pieces! Then they went to my ace upholsterer and I covered the chaise in some fabric I had been keeping just for this purpose, bought on sale from designer Kathryn M. Ireland, who is one of my design mentors. The joyous bright orange and turquoise pattern is another joy sparker and because it’s printed by hand, its colors are as bright and saturated as you can imagine. The chair also came in handy, covered in another one of Kathryn’s fabrics, and lives in the TV area.
|The Randolph Morris Clawfoot Tub was custom painted in spiced orange and acts as the centerpiece of the bathroom.|
VTB: What are some things guests can expect when staying at the Quail’s End Airbnb?
Julia: The house is truly cozy, and I have found guests respond to it immediately with joy! It’s a place to relax and burrow in. Flooded with sunlight, it’s great to spend time there during the day, and the chilly evenings are a time to turn on the many lamps, cook a good dinner in the vintage stove (still the best stove I’ve ever had!) and enjoy the big flat-screen TV for streaming or watching a DVD. I have a great collection of classic films to watch, and for those who play the piano, I was lucky to find a high-quality Baltimore upright piano, which I keep in tune. The house is a haven, and the outdoor components are equally easy to enjoy – including the hot tub and fire pit on the back patio.
VTB: What is some advice you'd have for others interested in designing and remodeling their bathroom?
Julia: The most important thing is to get the floor plan right. You may think you’ll save money by keeping the plumbing elements in their original spots – and you will. But, now is the time to get the floor plan optimized before you spend any more money on fixtures and design elements. Make sure the toilet has enough room, and the door can open flat to a wall. Consider a pocket door if you need to save room.
Think about a wow factor for your bathroom! Even if it’s small, you can start with one special element – like a clawfoot tub from Vintage Tub & Bath – or a bespoke vanity you create out of a piece of furniture. I didn’t do that in this bathroom, and went with a ready-made piece, but adding the Randolph Morris Bridge Faucets gave the vanity a vintage feel, even though I bought it on a website!
Don’t be afraid to use color in your bathroom! Older houses, especially in California, often used very colorful tile to great effect. I also like to use wainscoting to help define the walls and make the bathroom cozier.
VTB: What are some ways homeowners can narrow down their design style?
Julia: Keeping a design file is key, and is so easy now with so many websites and apps like Instagram to help you. I follow dozens of designers I admire, as well as artists and artisans. Once you’ve built up a good file of photo references, you’ll start to see the connections in the images you’ve chosen. Here again, I would refer to Marie Kondo, who suggests asking of each element in your home and belongings – Does it spark joy? Do I love it? And I think it was William Morris who said, “Have nothing in your house which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
VTB: What is your overall process when it comes to designing a new room?
Julia: I let the room tell me what it needs, based on its dimensions, including ceiling height, wall material, and window placement. If there’s something that can be improved architecturally before we start, I always try to do it. It’s so much easier to plan a room when the windows are in the right place and are made of the right material. I am a preservationist by nature, so if there are wood floors, I invariably try to save them and rarely have found a floor in such bad shape that I can’t refinish it.
If there are plaster walls, I try my best to keep them and avoid drywall, but that’s not always possible in bathrooms. From there I usually start with one key piece or idea – whether it’s a rug for a large living room, curtains, or a key large wall unit. Once you have one piece of the puzzle, the rest can follow easily – or not so easily – but you have a starting point. Sometimes it might be a piece of art the owner wants to hang in the room. The style and colors in the artwork may indicate other choices. Again, I always aim for a mix. So if I have an antique to include, I look for more modern pieces to complement the older ones or vice versa. It’s finding a starting point – the beginning of your story – and then proceeding from there.
VTB: Is there anything you brought over from your job as a film producer that helps in home design? What are the similarities and differences between both fields?
Julia: There’s so much I brought with me that is relevant to both fields. In some ways designing and building a house is exactly like making a film! You need a plan (or a script) and then you create a budget, and design elements (or actors and a director), and then you usually have to crunch that budget. I find you can do that the same way in both cases. You can either reduce each area of the budget by 10%, let’s say, or, you can eliminate one or two expensive elements that maybe aren’t necessary – like an expensive carpet or an expensive scene to shoot, that doesn’t add that much to the story. Some differences are in the finishing process. In film, you can edit for a long time, but sometimes in home design, you may have invested in pieces that can’t readily be returned, and so your budget is committed. Sometimes, though, every designer is faced with the knowledge that something just didn’t work out, and it’s got to go. I have a storage unit filled with such mistakes.
To see more of the Quail’s End home and Julia’s designs, follow Julia Chasman Design on Instagram, Houzz, and Facebook, or book the Quail's End Airbnb for a relaxing weekend getaway in Joshua Tree!