before and after

Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree

by Annie Werbler

One year ago this month, Lindsay Hollinger closed on her own three-bedroom Casa Joshua Tree after years of renting in Los Angeles. Unable to contain her excitement, she started demolition the very next day, ripping up the worn flooring and polishing the concrete slab beneath. Go-getter Lindsay isn’t a professional contractor; instead she’s a multi-talented art director, designer, painter, and illustrator with the imagination required to transform her 1,236-square-foot 1970s stucco box into “a zen-meets-desert feel, by way of Scandinavia.” She set out to revamp the interiors with the same peaceful and sacred feeling she finds in the surrounding desert.

Unfortunately, building that ambiance indoors took some time, as all the houses in Lindsay’s price range required major work. “I wanted to stay within my means, but have a beautiful home,” she shares. “I had to dig deep and assess what renovations I was physically (and mentally) capable of, and what I could afford.” Despite the need for updates, her current home had simple lines, had been well maintained, and called for mostly aesthetic changes. “I could live and work in the house while I renovated over time,” Lindsay explains. “It had beautiful light, a view of the mountains, a large kitchen, big backyard, and plenty of space for entertaining visitors.” For the biggest projects, Lindsay pulled in generous friends and even hired contractors. The master bath had the most dramatic work done — they removed the 1970s gold sparkle counters, replaced a leaking shower, and installed a new sink and butcherblock countertop. The kitchen’s good bones were preserved with updated finishes, and bedrooms were completed with the help of Grace’s own DIY bed frame tutorial.

Lindsay lives and works in her Casa, and she also hosts visiting artists and workshops in the space. Flexible furnishings allow for changes in the layout as needed. “I am most thankful that I get to experience the magic of the high desert and this wonderful community every day,” Lindsay says. “Sharing it with others is also an experience in gratitude — I can’t wait to teach workshops in the fall in my space.” Her biggest success is that she made her own inspiring home in a simple way, on her terms, within her budget. “If you’ve got a stucco box or a tract home or something that is not considered ‘stylish’ — don’t worry, because you can still make it beautiful.” —Annie

Photography by Lindsay Hollinger

Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
Handy homeowner Lindsay Hollinger built a simple low bed frame from Grace's own DIY tutorial.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
The day Lindsay's offer on the house was accepted, she purchased this Pendleton blanket she had been eyeing for weeks. "Pendletons are an investment (ahem) -- this was my 'grown-up blanket' to go with my grown-up house," she shares. The painting was a gift from artist Kristin Texeira after staying in this guest room.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
Lindsay made the framed figure drawing resting against the bathroom wall while in college.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
Lindsay fell in love with Justina Blakeney’s Cosmic Desert wallpaper for Hygge & West the first time she saw it. "I love the black and white, with a touch of gold sheen," she describes. The light fixture is original to the house and complements the decorative palm motif.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
A new shower and decorative accessories aid the fun wall covering in refreshing a previously outdated bathroom.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
White-painted kitchen cabinetry with new black-bronze hardware make the room feel bright and spacious in its original footprint. The light fixture was updated by changing the glass shade and spray painting the base. "I am a very messy cook," Lindsay admits, "So I chose a high-gloss paint and a cotton rug below the sink. Spills and splatters wipe up easily and I wash the rug weekly, because I cannot make anything without drips."
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
An Urban Outfitters area rug and Franklin Brass hardware pop against the all-white cabinetry.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
A handy row of hooks for kitchen textiles, wooden cutting boards, and a hanging planter makes use of this swath of wall space.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
The dining room table was custom built by a local craftsman using steel hairpin legs from The Old Timber Mill on Etsy. "I wanted a table that could seat 10 (my LA crew for dinner parties!) and after endless searching online," Lindsay reveals, "I realized building it was the best way to get exactly what I needed."
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
Lindsay uses this smaller and sunnier bedroom for herself. "I wanted as much natural light as possible with minimal window treatments -- I made both," she explains.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
Hewson the cat relaxes in his favorite spot. The striped runner was handwoven by Lindsay's friend Vanessa Lauria of pidgepidge, the first visiting artist to stay at the house. She also helped Lindsay build the wooden bed frames for both rooms from Grace’s tutorial on D*S.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
With the help of a neighbor, Lindsay realized her design for a DIY shelf -- a sunny spot for plants without the need for extra bulky furniture.
Before & After: Casa Joshua Tree, on Design*Sponge
Lindsay removed two layers of linoleum flooring, tore down the faux tile wainscoting, and replaced the "discolored 70s glitter swirl countertop." The original cabinets were saved with crisp new finishes.

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    • Wow, you all did an amazing job on fixing up your new home. It’s amazing what a bit of paint and some forward thinking can do. Congratulations!

  • Gorgeous. Love it all, and it is so perfect in the desert (the best place on earth!). Great job, Lindsay.

  • What a fabulous job you did Lindsay and the leaning ladder reminds me of Mik’s olive tree harvest ladders in his Aups, FR home. Truly reveals and reflects all you seem to be as an artist living the artists’ dream! Extremely well done!!!
    gigi morton

    • thanks G! i was just thinking of Mik this week, I was sorting through my photos from that trip and I have so many of his wonderful house. I was very inspired there. Such a treasured time for me, I will always remember him (and you!) so well <3 love to you xox

    • Hi Carrie! The tall cacti in the living room are a San Pedro cactus and a Euphorbia cactus. Depending on where you live, you can most likely find them in a nursery (esp if you are in california). Euphorbias are popular and probably easiest to find and do well in a bright window. Both are stunners and I dote on them like pets :D

  • Really lovely and peaceful transformation, thanks for showing.

    And I love that you’re using your home to generate income – something that I aspire to do in a radically different Irish landscape!

  • Absolutely love the chunky wood nightstand! Where did you find it! And thanks for the inspiration.

  • Thank you I am inspired to press on. Now I can reduce my budget and find my retirement space. THANKS

    • kudos to you! thanks for this kind comment. :) it’s hard but a careful budget and elbow grease (and a lot of white paint) you can make it happen! :)

    • hi maria! I used Behr Premium Plus Satin Enamel paint in Ultra Pure White, from Home Depot. I would recommend it, it covered really well and the white tone is bright and crisp.

  • Wow! that was an amazing transformation! I love the clean serene space with a bit of SW flare. Very inspiring!

  • Love this makeover! I have an older house and I’m thinking of painting my older cabinets soon. I can’t tell from the photos, are there white hinges on there? I love the hardware but can’t see the hinge situation. Are they the hidden ones? Also, did you use the Behr paint white color on the cabinets?

    Again, great, great job!!

  • I love this. I bought a similar home on a similarly tight budget in Kentucky. Mine is also a 3-bedroom slab house that was pretty dirty and neglected, but otherwise structurally sound. Due to the type of concrete used in the foundation (fiber mesh), I was unable to polish mine, so I settled on painting the concrete white. It’s funny to know that we were both going through the same process at the same time! You’ve done a wonderful job!