This Picturesque Palm Desert Rental Was Designed by 'Queer Eye' Star Bobby Berk — and It's Listed on Airbnb

The celebrity designer talked to Travel + Leisure about his biggest project yet, becoming an Airbnb host.

Bobby Berk in front of his Airbnb
Photo: Courtesy of Sarah Liggoria-Tramp

As part of the Fab Five on Netflix's "Queer Eye," Bobby Berk has been using his fine eye for interior design to upgrade the lifestyles of heroes on every episode of the show — and now, he's taken his expert taste and skill to a new realm as an Airbnb host.

Located in California's Palm Desert in the Coachella Valley, Berk's 5,000-square-foot spanish hacienda-style property, known as Casa Tierra, sits on five acres with seven bedrooms and 6.5 baths spread out through three homes, which will be rented out together on one listing, suitable for about 20 guests.

The idea of purchasing a house first popped into Berk's head about seven years ago when he went to Modernism Week, which highlights the greater Palm Springs area's mid-century design, he told Travel + Leisure recently. But it wasn't until he was staying at the Airbnb property The Summit in Palm Desert for Fourth of July last summer that the thought started spinning into reality.

"I could never justify having an extra house just to use every once in a while," he said. "But then I was like, this is how I get a house — I become an Airbnb host!"

Exterior of Bobby Berk's Airbnb
Courtesy of Sarah Liggoria-Tramp

So he opened up a real estate app and landed on Casa Tierra and bought the home last August. However, just like the renovation projects he takes on for "Queer Eye," there was a lot of work to be done, even just to bring the 1950s property, up to safety standards, so he partnered up with designer Paula Oblen, who specializes in vacation rentals.

"Not only did we completely redo the entire grounds, but we redid all the homes," he said. "We kept a lot of the funkiness it had, like handmade stained windows and Terracotta floors."

But more than anything, Berk became focused on viewing the property from a guest's perspective and creating an experience.

"Hotels are great, but when I stay in a place on vacation, I like to be immersed in where I'm staying," the 40-year-old design guru said. "When I go on trips with large friend groups, if you want to hang out, everyone's in the living room or one big kitchen, and sometimes it's too much. So there needs to be lots of spaces for people to have little moments instead of just big group moments."

Those elements include two outdoor bars, a bocce ball court, fire pit, a courtyard with dining tables, and "outdoor living rooms cascading down the hills going down to the pool."

Additionally, the living room is a highlight with about 15 fair-trade hand-woven pendants from a Tunisian village.

"They're like the size of small children, so it's a really dramatic moment when you walk in," he added.

A shower with a custom floor in Bobby Berk's Airbnb.
Courtesy of Sarah Liggoria-Tramp

When it comes to the solo spaces, one of his favorite spaces is the covered Moroccan-style chair.

"I love sitting there at night because you can see the whole property and all of Coachella Valley, and the pool looks like a glowing jewel down at the bottom of the canyon," he described.

And while he said many properties shine during the day, he also put an emphasis on lighting it up beautifully after dark, admitting that he finds Casa Tierra "more magical" at night.

Those little touches are all about making the guests feel like they're at a resort once the gates open.

"We were really inspired by Tulum and Cabo and we just want you to feel like you're on vacation," the Texas-born, Missouri-raised star adds. "Being in design, I wanted to take all the experiences that I've had on my travels and make the property a destination on its own."

A couch and loveseat inside of Bobby Berk's Airbnb
Courtesy of Sarah Liggoria-Tramp

He's also taken his own learnings from staying at Airbnbs around the world — from a lakeside property in Queenstown, New Zealand to an 1850s Victorian-style home in New Orleans — and applied them to Casa Tierra, including learning from stays that haven't gone as planned. While some have felt like corporate housing, he said one particular stay in Granada, Spain, also made him tune in to all the senses.

"The space itself was cool, but the moment you walked in, you could tell they just painted and it just had this smell," he recalled. "After about an hour, my friends and I were like, 'we can't do this.'"

Turning the memory into a learning experience, the situation made Berk commit to the tiny details, like making sure his property be cleaned with all-natural products.

While Berk will be involved with the logistics of renting the property out to guests as much as he can, he's also working with a management firm because of his busy schedule. But the one thing he's looking forward to the most: "Getting to see how people enjoy the property."

The Kitchen in Bobby Berk's Airbnb
Courtesy of Sarah Liggoria-Tramp

After all, that's what he's enjoyed the most himself with his Airbnb stays.

"Airbnb has opened up the world to no matter where you want to go," he said. "You don't have to just limit yourself to touristy places where the infrastructure of hotels is built up, you can really go immerse yourself in these faraway places that before Airbnb, there was nowhere to stay."

And Casa Tierra has already had another celebrity endorsement of sorts. Last month, Lizzo posted an Instagram video of herself enjoying another vacation rental home with Casa Tierra visible in the background.

"Lizzo was grinding right in front of my house!" Berk raved.

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