Palm Springs, US

The Wheelhouse

Bohemian ranch on 12-acre high-desert retreat at Joshua Tree National Park entrance

The Wheelhouse is an artistic high-desert retreat formerly owned by TV personality Huell Howser. A rare example of mid-century modern architecture deep in the California desert, the 2,221 square-foot ranch sits on 12 acres of untouched desert near both entrances of Joshua Tree National Park, offering a feeling of total seclusion less than an hour from Palm Springs with 360-degree mountain and desert views.

Built in 1952, the home features an indoor/outdoor layout that provides an ideal setting for weddings, private events and creative retreats, with multiple seating areas for catering, receptions or small-groups. When Howser, an icon of California history and culture, bought the home in the 1990s, he sought to create a communal, creative environment that has endured through every element.

An avid collector of found materials and repurposed objects, Howser turned quarry stones into yard sculptures and industrial elements into lighting fixtures. Five large millstones, each more than 100 years old, surround the full-length backyard pool, giving the home its name. In the early 2000s, Howser added a sunroom extension, created by panels of etched glass, and a separate living room and dining area in the same industrial style, making the home further suited to large gatherings.

Now owned by an artist, The Wheelhouse has preserved the industrial qualities that Howser introduced, while incorporating personally created pieces that mirror his style. The light-filled living room, features three owner-created pieces, including a triptych on plywood, a unique wood-based tripod lamp, and a sunset-hued tree light.

The gourmet kitchen features a four-seat breakfast nook, stainless steel appliances, the original 50’s stove and plenty of counter space, with a door leading directly outside for easy al fresco dinners. A mid-century dining area features a marble top table with six Eames shell chairs and sliding glass doors that open onto the zero-scaped patio.

Two spacious bedrooms create an indoor/outdoor feeling with big picture windows, sliding glass doors and minimalist decor. The master suite features a king bed and chaise-style daybed, which comfortably sleeps one additional person. An en-suite bath features a unique sink made of an old street lamp glass. The second bedroom features a queen bed with picture windows and a shared bath with the original 50’s green tile and fixtures. A den, featuring a large-screen TV and writing desk, provides additional accommodations with a queen sleeper sofa, allowing the home to comfortably sleep 7 guests.

Outside are the elements that truly set the home apart. Howser’s industrial accents remain decades after installation, creating the feeling of a modern sculpture garden. An architect designed paneled steel fence surrounds the perimeter, each piece thoughtfully laid in the ground at the same angle as the mountains beyond. The back patio opens to a full-length swimming pool with baja tanning shelf and outdoor spa surrounded by chaise lounge chairs. Please note the pool is not heated; however, the spa is heated. A vintage two-seat swing, nestled just off the living area, offers the perfect place to take in the views. Also outside is a 12-seat al fresco dining area, which converts into a ping-pong table. A gas BBQ grill and indoor/outdoor stereo system complete the ultimate desert entertaining experience.

Honoring the communal spirit encouraged by Howser, The Wheelhouse has become a place for celebrations, gatherings, and creative retreats. Artists have used the home to write, draw, meditate or practice yoga. Photographers have used the space for creative shoots. And couples have made the retreat their own, taking their vows against the rocky cliffs and desert brush that surround the home. Between indoor and outdoor spaces, The Wheelhouse can comfortably host up to 120 guests for a cocktail reception and 75 for a seated dinner.

Pets are permitted for an additional fee.

The Wheelhouse is rated 5.0 out of 5 by 5.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A wonderful feeling away from home We stayed for nights during December 2017. The home was perfect for what we wanted. All the elements of the house fit beautifully and make you want to stay at the house all day rather than go do activities outdoor. There is a beautiful warmth to the house. We enjoyed the hot tub, the outdoor spaces, the ping pong table. The home also allowed for cooking of all kinds - the kitchen is well appointed and the outdoor grill was great. The landscaping, views, and lighting both inside and outside the house were fantastic - creating a wonderful feeling in a desert environment. Lastly, the small touches also made for a very wonderful feeling of comfort. For example, the bed sheets were high end, super soft and very comfortable. As were the towels. All in all, we would fully recommend this property to anyone. And we would love to visit again.
Date published: 2018-01-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Modern luxuries in a picturesque location This was the perfect ending to our spring break road trip with our teens. The wheelhouse is an expertly decorated ranch home just inside 29 Palms city limits, yet remote enough to provide a sense of retreat while you watch incredible sunsets and stargaze by the pool, firepit or jetted spa. We stayed in a lot of our places during our time in Arizona and California, but the Wheelhouse was definitely the highlight of our trip!
Date published: 2018-04-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Paradise We celebrated my husbands 40th birthday this last weekend and were so taken with the property. It was just beautiful. We will definately be back.
Date published: 2018-10-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great day at the Wheelhouse As planned, The Wheelhouse was an amazing location for our photoshoot
Date published: 2017-11-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Heavenly! Visited home Dec 2018
Date published: 2018-12-28
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