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Home tour: Vintage living in Joshua Tree

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Steve Halterman and Glenn Steigelman don't take the term “garage sale” literally. Steigelman, a ceramics fan, has been known to peek around the sides of houses and ask: Might you be willing to part with that pot? (And you can keep the plant. He just wants the container.)

Joshua Tree bedroomHalterman, the grandson of one of the founders of a swap meet in El Cajon, grew up buying and selling at flea markets and has the keen eye of a lifelong scavenger. “Wherever I go, I am going to be hitting thrift stores and flea markets,” the filmmaker and set designer for national magazine fashion shoots said. “I will pull the car over in the middle of a job if I see a yard sale.”

Such dedication has paid off handsomely. At a time when so much of the country is obsessed with thrift, Halterman and Steigelman's Joshua Tree retreat is all about the joy of secondhand finds. Almost all of the furnishings in the couple's midcentury home — a retreat that is at once stylish, humorous and period correct — are bargains of one sort or another. Many pieces are pedigree vintage designs from the likes of Architectural Pottery and Glenn of California. Other items, such as troll dolls, string art and depictions of E.T., suggest an appreciation for kitsch and pop culture ephemera.

PHOTOS: Joshua Tree vintage retreat

The couple, who principally live in Silver Lake, purchased the Joshua Tree property as a weekend getaway in 2006. It was a post-World War II shack that went up when a government program granted 5 acres to homesteaders who built a 500-square-foot structure. Subsequent remodeling in the late 1970s added a guest bedroom, kitchen and screened-in porch that Halterman has since turned into a crafts studio where he makes Modernist stained-glass lanterns and windows.

They covered the house with a steel roof, swapped out windows with new aluminum frames by Milgard and painted the exterior in Farrow and Ball paint — Mouse's Back with Dauphine trim. As a splurge they added an industrial corrugated-steel water tank as a pool plus multilevel decks, all costing about $10,000, nestled among the boulders in the backyard.

“At our first place in Joshua Tree, we spent all the money on the house and didn't have a pool, and no one would visit us,” Halterman says.

Their interior design process? “At first, we thought we would change everything,” Steigelman says. Instead, they kept the wood paneling, tiled floor and kitchen counters, as well as the red mini-blinds on the living room windows that came with the house.

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“The more we brought our collections and aesthetic into the house, the more warm and natural it felt,” says Steigelman, who is renovating a vintage gas station in Joshua Tree to be a cafe.

Halterman cites their library of 1950s and 1960s Sunset magazines as design inspiration.

“It's part of our commitment to the California lifestyle,” he says. “We collect anything that is of that period that is sleek, whether it's Robert Maxwell and David Cressey pottery, patio furniture or a vintage Volkswagen dune buggy. It's a great form of recycling, and since that is the style of the house, we just go with it."

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-- David A. Keeps

Photos, from top: Steve Halterman, left, and Glenn Steigelman cool off in the pool outside their Joshua Tree retreat. In the master bedroom, vintage lamps flank stained glass that Haltermade made with his mom. A wall-mounted chest of drawers hangs in a guest room. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times

 
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