Vacation Rooted in Sustainability
Out west between California’s San Bernardino National Forest and Joshua Tree National Park, Yucca Valley offers an air of spirited abandon, suggestive of the raw ruggedness of the American frontier.
In this arid region of the Mojave Desert, rattlesnakes leave sinewy trackwork in the sand, coyotes howl at the moon, and wild yucca brevifolia, more commonly known as the Joshua tree, stud the land. These slow-growing evergreens stretch their thick and prickly branches skyward, a paean to the sun.
Here in Yucca Valley, the sun bleaches the sky and then casts pink streaks for unrivaled sunsets. Here in Yucca Valley the natural earth tones of the desert — a palette of cayenne, terra cotta, orange ochre, and copper — offer a backdrop of unyielding beauty only to be superimposed by the topography: jagged terrain and magnificent mesas; and it is here in Yucca Valley where Lazy Sunday House, an eco-friendly vacation rental, opens its doors.
Desert Paradise: Welcome to Lazy Sunday House
Lazy Sunday House proprietors Stephen and Clarisse Stocker first fell in love with this desert community after their various backpacking trips to Joshua Tree National Park. In 2016, noticing an uptick in traffic in the area (Yucca Valley is referred to as “the gateway” to Joshua Tree National Park), they began researching the possibility of a business venture. “Once we saw the exponential growth we decided it would be a good place to purchase land,” Stephen Stocker said.
In 2020, they broke ground on five acres for the build of their 2 bedroom, 2 bath desert domain. On their website, a gallery titled “The Build” provides the property’s ground-up process. During the construction phase, it was important for Stephen and Clarisse to not only uphold environmentally sound practices but also support local businesses.
“All of the construction was done through local workers who have been here their entire lives,” Stocker said. “Shout out to Jack Laymon. Maintaining respect for the land and plant life in the area was a major priority all the way down to where we placed the foundation.”
In the context of the pandemic, the greatest hurdle they faced was the escalated cost in construction due to raw material prices coupled with delivery delays. Travel to the property, however, Stocker noted, has not been impacted as domestic, secluded vacation spots have gained popularity in the past year.
“Generally though,” he added when asked about travel in the upcoming years, “I think people will continue to want to get out of the city, away from all the noise, and visit places that are visually intriguing to share across media platforms.”
For Stephen and Clarisse, sustainability has been an ongoing objective in both their personal and professional lives. Since 2015, they have learned many ways that can make environmentally sound living an actualization. It is their goal, they assert to “make an impact, however small, to help reverse the damage that has been done to this earth.”
With a resolute determination, Lazy Sunday House gets people in tune with nature while teaching the importance of maintaining its splendor. For the Stockers, the ability to use their voices to help support brands, help influence a more sustainable lifestyle, and see the small changes people make is “extremely rewarding.” On a daily basis, it is their hope to maintain a beautiful desert haven where visitors can leave feeling grounded, inspired, and enriched.
Seasonally, Lazy Sunday House aims to inspire small sustainable lifestyle changes that guests can take back home with them, like little souvenirs of wisdom for a greener earth. These small changes, in turn, present the opportunity to expand and influence a continuously growing audience, a phenomenon Lazy Sunday House is excited to be a part of. On the horizon are plans to expand the brand to properties across the globe.
Lazy Sunday House achieves this sustainable model by partnering with local artists and ceramicists whose work is showcased throughout the home, like the organically-shaped makata ceramic bowls handcrafted in small batches by Nicole Novena of Clay and Craft, or the one-of-a-kind white ripple vase by Elizabeth Eisenstein, of ZZIIEE Ceramics.
This Mojave-inspired vase features an unglazed exterior in which delicate throw-lines reveal the craftsmanship of the potter’s hands, a subtle beauty resultant of the painstaking precision of a potter’s wheel. In a unique twist, the mouth of the vase is slightly shifted as though the tectonic plates of this California region had left its imprint as it was baking in the kiln.
In the office accenting the wall, Candice Luter’s (Candice Luter Art + Interiors) one-of-a-kind half moon mirror, emblazoned with gold and trimmed in fringe, expands the space. With warm, neutral colors and soft textures, Lazy Sunday House effectively creates a setting as aesthetically pleasing as the natural world that surrounds it.
Lazy Sunday House guests are also treated to a variety of other ethically-sourced products. Public Goods’ hygiene and household products, like our hand soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, dishwasher and laundry detergent pods and surface cleaners (packaged in bottles made from sugarcane), eliminate the use of single-plastics while maintaining the aesthetics of the home. Simple and minimalistic in design, our packaging allows the pristine quartz countertops in the Lazy Sunday House kitchen to sparkle, the impressive shower featuring a luxurious double-double rainfall shower head to shine.
“Our core values revolve around creating a symbiotic partnership between space, experience and object while maintaining a clear focus on selecting sustainable and ethically made products,” Stocker said. This includes curating an environment where other brands, equally invested in similar core values, harmonize. With that, Stocker added, “it becomes nearly effortless to support each other’s brands organically and continuously.”
Here, guests sleep on organic, 100% biodegradable Avocado Green Mattresses dressed in Ettitude’s buttery soft 100% organic bamboo bedding. After showers, they wrap themselves in Ettitude’s luxurious waffle woven sustainable bathrobes and towels.
Both are Certified B Corporations and One Percent for the Planet partners: they endorse standards in social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability; they also donate 1% of their gross sales to non-profits. As one Lazy Sunday House guest raved in his five-star review, these added touches provided “an excellent touch of luxury.”
Come morning, Lazy Sunday House guests are treated to locally sourced Joshua Tree Coffee, premium organic small batch roasts that represent the resilience and spirit of Joshua Tree, California.
Procured from sustainable farms and roasted in the extremes of the Mojave, these beans create a signature flavor that can easily become anyone’s new favorite morning staple.
Most recently, Lazy Sunday House has recently been outfitted with two stunning live edge wood pieces from Arbor Upcycle, a salvage tree initiative and a millwork shop operating out of the San Francisco Bay area. “This company does some really inspiring work upcycling urban lumber that would normally go to waste and repurposes it into stunning furniture. We’re extremely excited to finally announce this partnership in particular,” Stocker said.
Stocker, who photographs interiors for a living, many of which are rental properties, has an eye for detail and precision. Over the years, he has been able to evaluate atmosphere and mood to produce imagery with appeal. The photo gallery that graces the Lazy Sunday House website is credited to him, and perhaps is what initially attracts prospective travelers. On an economical level, professional photos for the listing were one less overhead cost.
To encourage people to make sustainable lifestyle swaps after their stay, Lazy Sunday House has partnered with many of the companies showcased around the property to offer a variety of promotions. Under their website’s “Shop the House” section, guests can receive 25% off their first Public Goods order, 20% off of art pieces at Lu France Interiors showroom, 15% off at Ettitude, or 10% off a custom order with Candice Luter.
When first sourcing the items for the house, Lazy Sunday House punched keywords like “organic,” “sustainable,” and “locally made” into a search engine. In this process, Lazy Sunday House has been able to share the work of innovators who are making products rooted in sustainability.
Incorporating 100% biodegradable products or brands that take yesterday’s waste and upcycle it into beautiful, functional items enables Lazy Sunday House to embody the ethical and symbiotic relationship that catalyzed this business venture.
That sense of utility is perpetuated in Lazy Sunday House’s plans to tap into the long-term housing shortage in the southeastern California area. “We hope to eventually build an ADU [accessory dwelling unit] on the property to provide a space in that regard,” said Stocker.
To ensure travelers continue their sustainable practices on the road, Clarisse Stocker recommends eliminating as many single-use items as possible. “At first it seems difficult to do, but just a few minor swaps, such as a reusable water bottle, reusable pouches instead of plastic zip bags and a set of your own cutlery can make a huge difference in the long run,” she said.
For entrepreneurs interested in the venture of rental properties, that eco-friendly mindset should remain. When outfitting a space, she advises avoiding synthetic fibers and opting for 100% cotton or bamboo. Harsh, chemical-composed cleaning and hygiene items should be swapped with biodegradable formulas, and when it comes to q-tips, avoid the versions with the plastic handle (“those should be eradicated all together”). In fact, avoid any plastic in the house, such as plastic-wrapped amenities or plastic trash liners. Additionally, Stocker suggests plastic water bottles be replaced with glass bottled water.
Beyond the property’s acreage proximity, Lazy Sunday House encourages guests to get in touch with nature through an array of recreational activities (Covid-19 restrictions may apply). Cruise twenty minutes southeast of Route 62 to enter Joshua Tree National Park.
Voyaging Joshua Tree National Park
It is a mystic and moonstruck place, Joshua Tree National Park, and it imposes its energy on everything around it. It is where, in 1971, an up-and-coming California rock band in search of themselves and their sound, caught a peaceful easy feeling (some would just call it peyote) as a massive eagle, at an unusual proximity, soared directly overhead Glenn Frey, and thus The Eagles were born. Sixteen years later, Irish rock band U2 named their fifth studio album after the same desert oasis.
Located just under an hour away from Lazy Sunday House, San Bernardino National Forest transforms the terrain where soaring pines remind you of your meekness. Hike the trails, ski or jump on the back of a snowmobile for the day, or dip down into the tranquil waters of Deep Creek Hot Springs.
Step back in time in neighboring Pioneertown, the historical settlement replete with a saloon and a motel, dreamed up and modeled as an 1880s western frontier by Hollywood investors, Roy Rogers, and Gene Autry in the 1940s. Here, some four dozen film and television shows were shot. Satiate your hunger with Santa-Maria style barbeque at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, the honky-tonk of the High Desert, whose modest stage has been graced by Robert Plant, Leon Russell, Sean Lennon, and Margo Price.
Head to Palm Springs, just 36 minutes away from Lazy Sunday House, where eye-popping mid-century modern architecture transports you to 1950s California. It is here in Palm Springs where architect E. Stewart Williams designed Frank Sinatra’s home, a project that propelled his career and would later contribute to Modernism Week, an artistic festival rooted in the preservation of the city’s mid-century and modern design that attracts visitors from across the world.
To see the moon rise over the desert offers a new sense of awe. Lazy Sunday House guests are invited to sit around the orange glow of a crackling fire and gaze up at the stars where every constellation hangs overhead, dazzling in clarity, from a vaulted ceiling of midnight blue. Out in the distance, mountain peaks rise in the lunar transparency of the desert night. To understand how remarkable the desert is, you need to have craved the distinct spirit and stillness of it.
Out here in the Mojave Desert, in a space so isolated and so splendid, there is a pervasive feeling that you are embarking on a journey that, though you may not know what you are searching for, you leave having been changed. The desert offers an enlightened and spiritual transcendence, and it is here where we learn the future is simply an extension of the past. For many, it is a place of refuge. How lucky are we that Lazy Sunday House wants to share a piece of that with us?
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