Outdoor games for outdoor days. Jennifer DeLonge says nothing beats a game of bocce ball at sunset. Her guests agree.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY LANCE GERBER
The High Desert has perfected the art of play in recent years. Each rental property seems to have its own way of reaching for your hand and shaking you loose. At designer and serial proprietor Jennifer DeLonge’s retreat in Pioneertown, guests unwind authentically. Dating to the 1940s, the unassuming three-bedroom structure, set on 15 acres, stands out in a land increasingly dotted by new construction. An adobe wall here, original stonework and a stone fireplace over yonder, and a wooden-board porch straight from a classic Western.
“The home was brought here from Big Bear, hauled down by a fourth-generation owner,” DeLonge says. “I love history, and you can’t recreate this stuff. It just doesn’t work.”
So she leaned into that vibe when she saw a vintage bocce ball set at an auction in San Diego, where her design firm is based. She was midway through planning the cabin, and her general contractor was game to construct a regulation-size court. If Italian lawn bowling wasn’t part of the original 1940s cabin experience, no one seems to feel the sport is out of place.
“When you travel and you’re put in a new situation, you start to move about differently,” DeLonge says. “You cook all day. You play bocce ball. You hang out on the porch. We don’t get to do that all day in our daily life. So many guests arrive and then don’t leave until they check out.” DeLonge gets in some court time whenever she’s there, too. “It can be competitive; it depends who you play with,” she says. “We all have those serious friends.”
Designed by Jennifer DeLonge, Pioneertown Ranch borders the 25,500-acre Pioneertown Mountains Preserve.
After a big win (or to ease a tough loss), many find themselves with a beer in hand in the outdoor lounge, easing into the bubbling cedar-encased hot tub, or kicking back in the macrame swing chairs to watch another ombre sunset. It’s all in a play’s work.
The outdoor bar/lounge is a covered three-sided structure. Behind the swings, original stone work on the front patio was completed in the 1940s.