6 Yurts That Will Have You Dreaming of Your Next Adventure


From the elegant to the unplugged, these charming circular homes will make your head turn.

Contemporary yurts are popping up everywhere — from Los Angeles to Zion National Park — as airy homes, backcountry destinations or even weekend glamping getaways. 

Below are some of our favorites.

Marfa, Texas

Photo by Nick Simonite.

Sleep under a swath of stars in this brightly colored Marfa, Texas, yurt. Located about three hours southeast of El Paso, the yurt sits on a 21-acre artists’ retreat with a hammock grove, bike rentals and wood-fired hot tubs. Bringing friends? The yurt is perched alongside safari tents and renovated vintage trailers.

This home is currently available as a short-term rental.

Orderville, Utah

Photo by Robert Ranney.

Just beyond the terra-cotta backdrop of Zion National Park, this Utah yurt is off-grid and on point. Cell service and technology are nonexistent, making for the perfect environment to enjoy this bucolic setting. An outdoor fire pit serves as a spot to warm up underneath the night sky, and the yurt’s interior can sleep up to 11 people tuckered out from exploring Utah’s natural bliss.

This home is currently available for short-term stays.

Elgin, Texas

Photo by Sean Mathis.

About 30 minutes outside of artsy Austin, Texas, sit five yurts for the glamping fan in all of us. Each space is artfully decorated, from the Southwestern decor to the hand-picked vintage furniture. The rustic surroundings provide the perfect escape from the hubbub of big city life. There’s a classic writer’s desk inside each yurt, relaxing hammocks outside and walking trails nearby.

These homes are currently available as short-term rentals.

Fairplay, Colorado

Photo by Joe Holmes.

If the mountains are calling and so you must go, this might be the yurt for you. Nestled in the wilderness about 30 minutes from Denver, this home serves as a Rocky Mountain retreat for explorers of all ages. Enjoy stunning stargazing at night, fresh powder all winter long and 360-degree views from the wraparound deck.

This home is currently available as a short-term rental.

Los Angeles, California

Photo by Ryan Schude.

This urban yurt proves the circular structures aren’t just for outdoor explorers. Smack dab in cosmopolitan Los Angeles, this yurt sits under a canopy of orange, lemon and avocado trees, just a few miles from the famous Hollywood sign. The space boasts hardwood floors, modern amenities and a fire pit (for the few weeks each year that LA braves chilly weather).

This home is currently available as a short-term rental.

Saratoga, Wyoming

Photo courtesy of The Lodge & Spa at Brush Creek Ranch.

About two hours outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, sits this 700-square-foot mountain yurt. An overnight stay in this luxury space comes with custom gourmet meals, along with an expert guide to lead you to your digs via horseback. There are luxe glamping amenities on the inside (leather couches and a giant bed) and all that rural Wyoming has to offer on the outside (trout fishing, wildlife viewing and even yoga au naturel).

This home is currently available as a short-term rental.

Top featured image by Sean Mathis.

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This School Bus Is a Tiny Home … to a Family of 6!


With bunk beds for the kids, a master bedroom for the adults and a rooftop deck for all, one family is redefining the term “on the go.”

The wheels on the bus go round and round — and then might stop for family dinner, if you’re Gabriel and Debbie Mayes.

It may not be the dream for every family, but it’s the one Debbie envisioned after seeing a video on Facebook a few years ago. It featured a couple who had converted a school bus and spent all their time on the open road, exploring the country.

“I immediately thought, ‘Hey, we can totally do this with our kids. Why not?’” she recalled. “And so I brought the idea to Gabriel. It took a while to convince him.”

“Definitely took a while,” Gabriel chimed in.

But the more the duo thought about the idea, the more it made sense. They felt disconnected as a family in a 5,000-square-foot home; downsizing would bring the family closer.

4,752 square feet closer, to be precise. 

“We were talking about that disconnection in our marriage, in our family as a whole, and just thought if we’re gonna do anything adventurous, now would be the time,” Gabriel said. “We were looking to reconnect, to do something crazy exciting with our kids, and just to take life and flip it upside down.”

So they bought a school bus to live in.

The family of six — two adults, four kids — sought the help of an outside company when it came to finding the bus and designing the features.

Photo by Marcus Ricci.
Photo by The Mayes Team.

Their priorities: separate sleeping areas for the kids and the adults (the master bedroom has a door that closes), space to entertain guests, and a kitchen with ample countertops. (They pulled that off by installing an under-the-counter fridge. It holds enough food for a week!)

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

“We even went and taped out the design on the floor so we could walk through and see,” Debbie said. “We did things like reduce the depth of the couch, reduce the depth of the [kids’] bunk beds. We knew aisle space would be way more important than them having that extra bed space. I was very intentional in designing all of the little areas to be functional. It’s down to the inches.”

Gabriel’s only ask: a rooftop deck.

“I just had this vision of taking the bus, backing it up against the lake, opening up the skylight out of my bedroom, going up to the roof deck, and then sitting in my chair and just chilling,” he said. “I just wanted this place where I’m secluded from the rest of the world and I’m overlooking just beautiful scenery.”

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

Buying and renovating the bus cost about $38,000 and took about five months. During that time, the family sold or donated much of what they owned and put the rest in storage. They hit the road in August 2017.

Photo by The Mayes Team.

On their first trip, the road hit back.

“I remember the day that I got in the bus. We had spent the whole day packing. Last thing goes on, the kids get on, we close the door, and I put it in drive and our home starts moving. I can’t fully explain how exhilarating that feeling was,” Gabriel said.

“It was amazing but also did not go exactly how we had planned,” Debbie added. “We got 300 miles into the journey, and the bus broke down on the side of the road. It was like, ‘Wah-wah.’”

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

The school bus — which they affectionately call “the Skoolie” — picked a patch of desert land in Oklahoma to break down.

Turns out it was also a piece of private land.

“We fed the kids lunch and tried to figure out what the heck we were gonna do, and a random stranger pulls up after we’d been there for a few hours, and he was like, ‘You’re actually on my land.’” Debbie said. “But he had been a diesel mechanic.”

The stranger ended up building a part to get the bus moving. It’s been pretty much smooth sailing ever since, from the mountains of Wyoming to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.

Photo by Jen Hammer.

Their biggest advice for others considering a home on wheels: Do the research. Find a builder or designer you can trust. In retrospect, they probably would’ve chosen a washer and dryer over installing a shower, but they have few other regrets.

And yes, of course, there are seat belts for all. The family designed the living space to hide the seat belts under the couch cushions when the bus is parked. The baby rides in a car seat. “They are able to buckle up safely,” Debbie said, about her kids. Anything that’s breakable gets packed away for when the bus moves.

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

“To be able to have everything that you own as a family of six inside 248 square feet, knowing everything that you own is where it’s supposed to be — the amount of stress and anxiety really goes out the window,” Gabriel said.

“Whenever you rid yourself of this desire to have things, it’s not that the desire goes away, it’s just that you just don’t have the space for it anymore,” he continued. “It causes you to start thinking on different levels. Now I just want to be intentional with my wife and be intentional with my kids. This massive weight is just gone.”

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

Eventually, the Mayes plan to park the bus and turn it into a short-term rental. They hope to find a forever home and allow others to explore their tiny home on wheels.

“The kids feel like they’re on this massive adventure. Whenever you pull up to a location that’s surrounded by mountains or there’s a new waterfall to go explore or some trail just to go run down, you put the bus in park, and you open the door,” Gabriel said. “Just to see their excitement … I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

Top featured image by Jen Hammer.

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Originally published July 2018.



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8 Minimalist Homes That Are Big on Style (Not on Stuff)


These homes with clean lines and bright spaces prove you can maximize style while keeping things minimal.

Stunning. Sleek. Neat. Feast your eyes on eight simple, yet sophisticated homes so serene, they might just have you decluttering in no time.

Open and airy — up, down and around

Photo by PLUSH Image Corporation.

High ceilings and a palette of neutral colors make this living room feel open and luminous. From the Mid-Century Modern couch to the simple side tables, furniture with exposed legs adds to the appearance of ample space. Large windows allow abundant natural light to fill the room, giving it an airy feel.

White and bright with wood accents

Photo by Colt Verret.

Three Edison bulbs hang above the island of this kitchen, giving it a radiant, yet clean look. A slate of uniform white cabinets makes the space feel open and spotless, while a stainless-steel farmhouse sink completes the look. From the bar stools to the sliding barn door, natural wood accents complement the kitchen — without the clutter.

Clean, fresh and flowing

Photo from Zillow listing.

Set against walls of white, this minimalist chic bathroom is the perfect spot to cleanse the body and the mind. This space has flowing, zen-like design elements. The shower walls and double slipper tub have a sinuous look, reminiscent of the nearby Pacific Ocean.

Mid-Century meets the 21st

Photo from Zillow listing.

Clean and chic, this dining room is a dream in simplicity. A modern, silver-colored chandelier provides a pop of inspiration, set against a classic backdrop of black and white. Hardwood floors and a natural wood dining table add warmth without the clutter.  

Classic style in blush tones and gold

Photo by Angelika Piatek Photography.

Crisp white walls and a bold, gray-paneled fireplace anchor this bright living room. Touches of light blush tones complement the simple aesthetic, while metallic-leg, Mid-Century Modern furniture adds to the minimalist chic. Clean, geometric lines — from the crisscross rug to the modern side table — complete the look.

A nod to nature

Photo by Roehner+Ryan. Home staging by Local Trade.

Ample light and simple lines provide the soothing setting for this home. Gold- and silver-colored light fixtures add to the glow, while a bar cart doubles as a storage space. It’s also a sneaky way to stash clutter in a pinch, keeping things neat and tidy.

Perfectly placed patterns

Photo from Zillow listing.

Sleep comes easy when a bedroom is this free of distractions. Classic white walls provide a soothing visual backdrop, while the patterned rug integrates a simple, chic design. Floor-to-ceiling windows elongate the space, inviting in generous amounts of light.

The illusion of height

Photo from Zillow listing.

Long vertical lines — from the tripod lamp to the decorative wooden ladder and tall potted plant — draw the eye upward, making the space seem larger. Touches of gray and blue add cool, soothing tones to an otherwise neutral space.

Top image by Angelika Piatek Photography. 

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Originally published January 2018.



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You’ll Be Climbing the Walls of This Tiny Home


This tiny home packs a bouldering wall, a roll-up garage door and a full-sized soaking tub into just 250 square feet.

There’s no need to park in the mountains when the rock climbing is right at your doorstep. 

At least that’s what the team at Tiny Heirloom figured when they set out to design a tiny home for an intrepid couple looking to take adventure on the road.

The Portland, OR-based company combined two of the things its clients enjoyed most — fitness and being outside — into a 250-square-foot, custom-built home, said Jason Francis, creative director and co-founder at Tiny Heirloom.

The idea for a tiny home with a bouldering wall came from organic brainstorming, Francis said.

“The rock wall really started as a long-shot idea, but the more we thought about it, the more excited we got,” Francis said. “So we figured out a way to make it happen!”

“We’ve built many custom homes,” Francis added, “but this was definitely one of our most unique.”

His team added some rich design elements, including a roll-up garage-style glass door, to bring the outdoors inside. The couple intends to use the place as their primary residence.

The home cost about $145,000, but $35,000 of that went to building the custom climbing wall.

The home is 24 feet long and 13 feet tall, providing plenty of room for outdoor climbing. The bouldering wall is on one side of the home, and the handholds can be reconfigured to change up the climbing route.

One side has a traditional entryway, while the other has the roll-up door to provide expansive views of wherever the home is parked.

The living space contains two lofts: one with an office and the other with a bedroom. Designers hung a chandelier made of Edison bulbs between the two.

The kitchen features a farmhouse sink and full-sized oven. The cabinets are a rich blue color with brass accents. There are two open shelves above the countertops.

The home also contains a dining space with bench-style seating that doubles as storage.

An arched blue-tile doorway leads to the bathroom, which has a full-sized soaking tub, white subway tiles and a rainfall showerhead.

After completing the tiny home and sharing it on social media, Francis said they’ve had a number of inquiries about building similar spaces for clients.

“Ideas have spread from it quite a bit, but no one else has bought the exact same thing,” Francis said. “We have had a client request a rock wall system in the house as a way up to the lofts for his two young boys.”

Photos courtesy of Tiny Heirloom.

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Originally published March 2018



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5 Tips to Declutter Your Closet in a Day


Streamline your wardrobe, and help others at the same time.

I recently had a closet collapse. I came home from a day at the office to find heaps of what had been neatly hung, color-coordinated clothes in one giant, messy mound on the floor. Worse than picking up the pieces of chipped drywall? Admitting that maybe it was time to get rid of that favorite shirt of mine — from college. In the ’90s.

So I sought the help of style expert Darcy Camden to find out what she tells her clients. Camden has been cleaning out closets and styling men and women for more than a decade (read: she spends a TON of time in strangers’ homes). The busy fashionista (she’s a mother, too) insists there are easy ways to declutter that tangle of t-shirts or pile of old papers. And you can do it in as little as an hour.

A little goes a long way

Purge a little at a time, says Camden, who has helped more than 900 clients in her career.

“Most of my clients think that purging a closet is a huge all-day endeavor, but it often makes more sense to do a little at a time,” she says. “I encourage everyone to keep a Goodwill donation bag in their closet or bedroom, and add to it here and there as you discover items that don’t fit or have gotten worn out.”

If it doesn’t fit, you can’t wear it

“It rarely makes sense to keep something that physically doesn’t fit you — even if you love it,” Camden says. Put it in a pile to donate, and imagine how much joy the next person will get from that item.

New season = new chances

When the weather warms up or cools down, it’s a great opportunity to think about what you’ve worn — and what you haven’t. “If you didn’t wear it last winter, you probably won’t wear it next winter,” Camden says.

Use the “plus one, minus one” method

Fab new pants? Great! But only put them in the closet after removing a pair that’s collecting dust.

“I tell my clients to subtract one old item for every new item you purchase,” Camden recommends. “If you spend an afternoon shopping and come home with five new things, spend some time reviewing your closet. Remove five older things you’re no longer wearing.”

Finally, donate!

Think of how much you can keep out of the landfill by gifting your giveaways to a good cause.

“I’m constantly amazed that my clients are worried their castaways aren’t good enough for Goodwill,” Camden says. “Will they really want this stained old t-shirt? Or this single sock? Yes!”

“Working closely with Seattle Goodwill over the years has given me tons of insight into what happens to donations,” she continues. “Your smelly socks and stained clothing provide jobs and can be recycled or reused. Never throw away clothing to a landfill.”

Last year, Seattle Goodwill kept more than 53 million pounds of useful goods out of landfills. In addition to helping the planet, those donations also help fund job training and educational programs, adds Seattle Goodwill’s Katherine Boury.

Happy cleaning!

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Originally published April 2017



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