Design meets the desert at West Texas’ Willow House
Marfa is the town most commonly synonymous with design in Far West Texas, but Willow House is putting another destination on the map. Located in Terlingua, just miles from Big Bend National Park, the desert retreat is comprised of 12 casitas that sit over 250 acres of land. From the uninterrupted views of the Chisos Mountain Range and Santa Elena Canyon to the ocotillos that surround it, the property offers a stay that is akin to being inside the vast park itself.
Though not a designer or architect, founder and first-time hotelier Lauren Werner is the mastermind behind every detail at Willow House. Werner says that though the structures are modern in design, they are ‘completely in tune’ with the beauty of the Big Bend. Their minimal nature doesn’t distract from the setting, she explains.
There is not a spot on the property where Werner’s love for the desert can’t be felt. In addition to incorporating West Texas-inspired brands like Whiskey & Clay ceramics, she has integrated elements from the land throughout, including her ongoing collection of sand, coral and amber-hued stones from daily walks.
Werner also stresses the importance of artwork that reflects the region. ‘I want it to respect the location and the colors of the natural landscape,’ she muses. ‘Nearly everything here was either done by an artist who resides in West Texas or through a residency at Willow House’. Pieces from the likes of New York’s Helen Khonke, Los Angeles’ Inabella Innis, and Nick Terry, who resides in nearby Marfa, are featured prominently, and the young collection is only bound to grow.
The interiors are also filled with vintage finds from Los Angeles’ Rose Bowl Flea Market and Virginia-based Green Front Furniture. ‘I took two separate trips out to Farmville,’ Werner says of the latter. ‘They have 17 massive warehouses full of goodies that any interior designer would go nuts over’. These timeworn treasures, including rugs, pots and lamps handpicked by Werner, sit alongside modern furniture like leather benches and sling chairs from Makers & Smiths.
When it comes to the stay, guests can opt for a meditative, solitary experience under some of Texas’ clearest and starriest skies. However, an open, warm community space featuring a kitchen, living area and outdoor fire pit at the heart of the property paves the way for visitors to mix a drink and make new friends. The real draw inside the main house is the sunken sitting area. Not only is it the ideal conversation circle, but its design puts nothing between the dining table and the desert scenery framed by oversized windows. In a landscape filled with equal parts beauty and mystery, Werner has created more than a hotel—she has built a haven for the creative-minded traveller. §