The Posada Inn by Joshua Tree House | Fireclay Tile
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The Posada Inn by Joshua Tree House

By Lindsey

The Posada Inn by Joshua Tree House

Your desert escape awaits. Designed by Sara and Rich Combs of The Joshua Tree House, this beautifully restored inn is a desert lover’s dream. Read on to see more of the Posada and if you're loving Sara and Rich's style as much as we do, check out their other projects with us-- The Assembly and The Joshua Tree House!

First, can you tell us a bit about yourselves and how you two started The Joshua Tree House?
Over the past five years as we’ve created our brand, The Joshua Tree House (JTH), we’ve fallen in love with creating spaces for people to reflect, reset, and create in. 

Joshua Tree House Swimming Pool

The Joshua Tree House Tile Shown: 6" Triangles in Milky Way and Sand Dune // Image + Design: Sara Combs and Rich Combs

It began with individual homes in Joshua Tree, California and has now grown to also include a five suite inn called Posada in Tucson, Arizona. Our goal is to provide well designed spaces for people to stay that are immersed in nature and nearby national parks.

The Posada Living Room

The Posada Tile shown: Large Star and Cross in Ivory // Photos: Margaret Austin Photography

Creating the JTH began with a simple craving of our own to have a quiet place to reset and reconnect with nature. We found our first place via a Craigslist ad, with the initial intention that it would be our personal creative retreat. We opened up the house to rent on Airbnb when we weren’t there, and quickly found that others were also craving a place like this. With little available time left at the house for us to stay ourselves, we began searching for another property to renovate so we could continue sharing these experiences (and move to the desert ourselves!). 

What led you to open another location in Tucson? Were there other areas you considered? 

We had actually traveled through Tucson back in 2014 to visit Saguaro National Park, and the area had stuck with us as a place to revisit someday. We had it in our minds for a while that we’d love to have our own small inn at some point, and we had our eyes open for any interesting places in the desert southwest. 


When we came across the real estate listing for the Posada, it honestly just had us curious… it looked like a canyon was for sale on a commercial real estate site. Why? We asked our real estate agent to look into it, and when he called us afterwards he was so excited. He’d never even come across anything like this before, and knew it was exactly what we had dreamt of. Ultimately the building itself led us to Tucson, but we’re so glad it did—the landscape here is a forest of Saguaros and prickly pear cacti, glowing red mountain ranges, and set between the two sides of the national park is the charming and warm city of Tucson decked with murals and incredible food.


Can you tell us more about The Posada? What did it look like before? 
The property had been abandoned for the previous decade, and was in desperate need of some love. We spent about six months with a team of contractors patching, repairing, upgrading, and painting the building to bring it back to life. 


The Posada has three buildings which were originally built beginning in 1978 by Merv Larson (the previous director of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum). He had incredible vision for this space, and a clear love of the land. His attention to detail was what made us fall in love with the building in the first place—the way he framed the surrounding desert views, the ceilings made with Saguaro ribs and reclaimed telephone poles, and thirteen fireplaces throughout the property; each one unique from the next.


What were the biggest changes that needed to be made? 
Many areas were missing commercial floor tile (this is where the bulk of our tiling projects came in), we needed to replace all of the heating/cooling systems, repaint the building both inside and out, upgrade bathrooms and kitchens, and furnish the building as a five-suite hotel/inn.

I'm sure, it's hard to decide, but of all the areas you updated, do you each have a favorite? 

Sara: We usually go around saying “this is another favorite room”—there are so many favorites, haha! I personally tend to like the small details though, so I especially love the dining pantry we created. 

The Posada Dining Room and Pantry Floor

Tile Shown: Fallow in a custom colorway

Rich: I really love the main living room’s transformation. It started off as a yellow carpeted space that felt dark and not an ideal first impression. We brightened the space, tiled it in large star and cross tiles, and now it’s a much better first impression as our guests arrive!




Posada Living Room Tile

Tile shown: Large Star and Cross in Ivory

Let's talk about your experience using the Color-It Tool for a bathroom, the dining room floor and the exterior stair risers. How did you come up with your color schemes? 
We used the colors from our surrounding landscape, and began by laying fan decks of colors out in the sand. We were mesmerized by the terra-cottas in the sand, the dusty blues and greens of the cacti, and ochres and warm grays we found in the stones. We used the Color-It Tool to find similar colors and tones, and had so much fun playing around with the tool and screenshotting favorite combinations before making our final design decisions.




Handpainted Fireclay Tile Stair Risers

Tile shown: Handpainted Avila and Vigo in custom colorways

What made you choose the Large Star and Cross for a couple of the living area floors + room floors? 
That particular tile shape feels very southwest meets morocco to us, which felt very appropriate for this building. We had also previously used the small star and cross for our kitchen backsplash at home and are just still so in love with it! Bringing the star and cross into the design of the Posada made the inn feel like home to us. 

Large Star and Cross Floor Tile in Antique

Tile shown: Large Star and Cross in Antique

Let's talk about all of the bathrooms! Do each of you have one you love the most? 

Ok, so for this we do both have a clear favorite. It’s got to be what we call the jungle bathroom, with the sunken tub! We wish it was our personal bathroom at home, that’s how in love we are. 




Handmade Bathroom Floor Tile

Tile shown: Ogee in Ivory

You've paired different materials and/or patterns for the bathrooms, any design tips on how to best execute this? 
We love mixing textures, playing with scale, and combining new and old. For example, in the jungle bathroom we used a moroccan plaster called tadelakt for the walls for a natural and smooth texture, kept the original penny tiles from the sunken tub and shower floor, and added a larger scale pattern with the Fireclay Ogee in Ivory. Using a smaller scale pattern, and contrasting that with both a larger scale pattern and a smooth yet textured wall allowed us to use multiple patterns and materials without overwhelming the eye.

Hotel Bathroom Floor Tile by Fireclay

Tile shown: Ogee in Ivory

What made you choose to add (or replace) tile in many areas of the Posada vs another material? 
All of the flooring that had survived through the years at the Posada was tile, so when it came time to replace the missing flooring it felt only natural to choose tile. Not only does it fit the aesthetic of the structure, it’s such a durable choice for us at the inn.

Bathroom and Shower Floor Tile by Fireclay

Tile shown: 2x6 in Ivory and Sintra in a custom colorway

How did the installation process go? Did you face any challenges?  
We worked with two tiling teams through the process—we had a rocky start when the first team ghosted us after doing only a few days worth of work. It all ended up working out great though, since the second team we found were amazing. They had a great eye for detail and were so excited about all of the different tiles we had chosen, and were up for the challenge! For shapes like the Ogee Drops we used in one of the showers, it took our installers a bit of time to figure out how to evenly space them, but once they got a groove with them it went great.

Ogee Drop Shower at The Posada

Tile shown: Ogee Drop in Ivory and a custom color

What was the experience like redesigning this entire space? What did you enjoy most? 
This year was an absolute blur as we redesigned and renovated the whole main building in under a year. We loved creating together, and pushing each other. It was an extremely tiring process, but we couldn’t feel more proud or fulfilled that we pushed through many tiring days to create the inn of our dreams.

Brick Herringbone Commercial Bathroom

Brick Shown: San Gabriel

Handmade Brick and Ceramic Shower Tile

Tile shown: Ceramic 2x2 in Ivory and Glazed Thin Brick in San Gabriel

We learned that while solutions to issues that arise may not always be graceful or obvious, there is always a solution. We also learned to appreciate the beauty in imperfection. We love seeing the scars of this old inn, where new tiles were laid or lights were previously installed “about center.” That human touch is not an “error” but rather a sign of love.

The Posada Living Room Star and Cross Tile

Tile shown: Large Star and Cross in Ivory

Handmade Living Room Floor Tile

Tile shown: Large Star and Cross in Antique

Commercial Kitchen Floor Tile

Tile shown: Large Star and Cross in Antique

Cuerda Seca Handpainted Stair Riser Tile

Tile shown: Handpainted Avila and Vigo in custom colorways

Feeling these desert vibes? Order color samples online today. Need some help? Simply call, chat or fill out our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly. 

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