It's rare to find a friend that you want to go into business with, even rarer, one might argue, to find a friend you want to buy and renovate a home with, and then manage as a vacation property together. This is the story behind Veda House, the desert home that Katie Wadsworth and Jane Harvey purchased, remodeled and now rent out to visitors traveling to the Yucca Valley.
This leap of faith (they purchased the house "sight unseen") has allowed both women to become home owners in a less conventional way and to create the financial independence they both desired.
To adequately showcase the time, energy and love (+ blood, sweat and tears) that were quite literally poured into this home, we've added a few before and after photos of the space. Read on for the full tour, lots of wisdom and insights for first time home owners, and a discount code exclusively for readers of The Fold!
This is a first-of-its-kind profile for The Fold. Tell us about how this space came to be and the impetus in purchasing this home.
Katie: First, thank you for having us over at The Fold. It is so fun to have the opportunity to process our home buying and renovating adventure here with you.
Jane and I have been sharing our love of home decor, DIY projects, house hacks and the desire to eventually own properties since we first met in 2015. We both knew we wanted a different kind of independence for our futures. Hailing from Ireland and Minnesota and living in LA - purchasing property here is out of our reach. We share the love of creation and also the love of a different kind of financial freedom.
Our ideas vacillated from long term rentals in the midwest, multi-units in the south and few things in-between. We eventually landed on a STVR (short term vacation rental) in the desert.
In a serendipitous chance of events I ran into a dear friend and neighbor who I hadn’t seen in a couple months and asked “Where have you been… ?!”. She answered that she,“Bought a house with a friend in the desert and the area (Yucca Valley + Joshua Tree) and it’s hot (yes 107 degrees - but also, the market)”. This encouraged us to consider something that was just a nice 2+ hours away. That conversation was the tipping point and we immediately sprung into action. For me, it was a blur. We saw about 15 houses, put in eight offers and finally got a bite on that lucky number eight… sight unseen. We sure hoped we’d like it.
What became extra awesome about landing in the desert (which is about 2.5 hours from where we both live in Los Angeles) is that this space affords us to be able to host our families and friends. As you can imagine, apartment living in LA isn’t spacious and we both love the thought of our families being able to come to visit US - such a silver lining.
If you are open to sharing (and for those who might not be aware) how do two friends go about buying an investment property together?
Katie: Because we are both first time home buyers, we wanted to take advantage of each of us holding a mortgage. So in the case of the Veda House, Jane is the mortgage holder and I share 50% through “tenancy in common”. Tenancy in common (TIC) refers to a legal arrangement in which two or more parties jointly own a piece of real property, such as a building or parcel of land. The details of these parties' arrangement can differ from one case to the next, depending on the individual purchase contracts and legal agreements.
Jane: Also, find a good team - a broker you trust, family that have done this before (buying a house or two) and your purchasing partner. If this was a process that I did solo, it could have been so overwhelming, but it turned out to be kind of a blast!
It’s one thing to align on a vision for interiors with a partner, a whole other thing to align with a friend. How did the two of you decide on the aesthetic designs for the house? What served as your inspiration?
Jane: We instinctively have a pretty keen eye when it comes to design and our aesthetic in general lines up with each other. Honestly, we both heard each other's ideas, put forth some question marks on some, but in the end sat back and let each other go for the vision we each had (especially in each of “our” rooms). It felt right to have our own spaces within the house to let our creative juices flow, while still maintaining a cohesive flow throughout the house. I think in the end we can both agree that while we didn’t always see the vision the other person had, we appreciated it after the fact. And, we’re confident enough to be able to take a step back when our own project is done and say to ourselves “well that worked out or … didn’t”. It’s all a learning experience and it’s fun to play around with ideas. And also, remembering - paint is not permanent!
Katie: Echo’ing Jane, we share the same core foundation for our design styles. Like any partnership it’s collaboration and compromises - we did that pretty darn well. In addition to both having that healthy balance of our spaces within the house to develop, we then starting to grasp the notion that this space, while ours, will also be enjoyed by some many other folx. That, for me, helped me detach a little bit more - and let the rooms do the talking. As we said, this is our “first'' and there will never be a space quite like this one!
Aran Goyoaga on Cultivating Love in the Kitchen + Meringue Cake with Roasted Apples From Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple
"Set a humble table and eat beautiful simple food. Nothing has to be fancy. When you make yourself comfortable, your guests will feel comfortable."
Speaking of interiors, can you share some (or all) of the things that you two did to the space to create the beautiful haven it is today?
In all honesty, we originally had a bit more of a vintage / thrift store vision for Veda House but due to our timeline and the 109 degree summer heat (SOS!), visiting thrift stores in the desert just wasn’t a feasible reality. But, in a fun turn of events, we got some amazing furniture and decor hand-me-downs from friends who were parting ways with pieces of their own and we really feel like that energy helped build a great foundation. Aside from those pieces, we picked a desert palette, and tried to play off that. The velvet green couch happened upon us in our extensive search for a fun couch. We wanted that to be the POP of color - and everything around it supports it. It’s really fun to mix and match looks, vibes, old and new. You’ll find some IKEA and Target gems next to a beautiful media console that has traveled to multiple homes of some dear friends of ours, sanded and refinished to hold up the room like it was always meant to be there. Next up, the fun wall accents really made the spaces feel like they had our personal touch. We scoured Pinterset and the like for inspiration and then took those and spun them into our aesthetic.
What is your favorite thing about this home? What have you grown to love?
Katie: My absolute favorite thing about Veda House is that it was our/my first house renovation that was truly such a team effort. There are so many memories made there and just like the first of anything… nothing will quite be the same.
As for what I’ve grown to love? The kitchen! She was the biggest transformation and quite a project. While we were originally opposed to the countertops and had wild dreams of completely refacing them - as we made updates around them (ie pulling out cabinets, painting and decor), we grew to like (not love;) them and thus, that space just sort of came together in the wildest of ways. That process also taught us to truly let things unfold.
Our best advice: do the biggest, most important thing first and then see how that affects the rest of the space before proceeding. We could write an entire article on the things we just HAD to change… that are now part of the house as it is. Such a fun thing to reflect, hindsight.
Jane: Mirroring Katie’s sentiment, my favorite thing about Veda House is how wild it was to finally be in my/our first home! We spent countless hours chatting about owning a home, in all its forms, so to walk into a house and immediately feel a connection to it, was truly amazing! (Especially since we had only seen it in pictures).
I loved it instantly, but the work we did as a pair, and team - that’s what really brought it to life. I think the one thing that Veda House has given to both of us, is the realization that we can do this, it's not just something we gab about over wine, we can actually do these hard things. We figured out so much by rolling up our sleeves (well, not sleeves, it was too hot!) and tackling projects head on. Some were bigger than we imagined but we learned how much we were able to do, and it cemented our resolve to do more and more.
How do you want guests to feel when they enter this space? What do you hope they take away with them (mentally, emotionally - not literally!) when they leave?
We’d love our guests to feel all the good energy. As we have mentioned, this home has been such a special place for us - we hope that transcends around every corner. The colors and decor are meant to offer a calm, cool and soft place to land. Whether they are visiting Joshua Tree National Park, a wedding or attending a music festival - we want the Veda House to be a wonderful place to start each day and a serene spot to come back to each night.
What has this process taught you about yourself, your abilities (both physical and emotional) and how is that impacting your choices for the future?
Katie: For me, this has been a “we can do anything” lesson in life. Aside from my own personal projects, I’d never done anything remotely like this. We listened to endless podcasts and watched hours of home improvement shows. The process also made me realize how much I like to work with my hands and sentimentally could see where those roots came from. My Grandfather was a carpenter and a woodworker and my Dad, a welder and metal artist, and my Mom always swore by a coat of a paint/new color to reinvent a room. While I’ve had many roles in the nine to five, this process was a big reminder of what really speaks to me.
Jane: This process really cemented my love of DIY and home decor, and gave me an outlet far bigger than my one-bed apartment ever could. It taught me that I have a pretty steely resolve, both physical and mental, and there’s really nothing that I will allow to hold me back from *doing* anymore. I want to continue to learn as I go, and hopefully keep the ball rolling and more projects present themselves along the way.
Are there more “Veda Houses” on the horizon? How can someone book this space right now?
Yes, yes yes… next house in the works (yet to be named so stay tuned via our instagram for that unveiling)!
As for staying with us, you can book right here! And, come follow via our instagram @abbot.and.eireann. As a thank you for reading the article and your interest in our space, message us that you read us via The Fold in your Airbnb inquiry and we’ll offer you a special discount!