Austin’s Weirdest Homes
Whispermaphone talk tubes. Bird cages full of doll heads. A home without 90-degree angles. A 33-square-foot abode. What do all of these have in common? They’re the strangest spaces and places you’ll find in our delightfully strange city. Scarf down that breakfast taco, pull on your cowboy boots, and join me: let’s take a peek inside the charmingly eccentric homes that make Austin such a fun and funky place to live.
If any home screams the “Keep Austin Weird” mantra, it’s this one. Artitecht-designer, Austinite, and avid traveler James Talbot has seen the world, and he infuses his home with the themes of his travels. This three-story limestone and brick chalet in downtown Austin is a colorful oasis of creativity and sustainability.
Each room is painted in uniquely vivid colors and features exotic textures, capturing the decorative spirit of Goa, India; Oaxaca, Mexico; and Morocco, where Talbot has lived. Following Talbot’s experience as a children’s playscape designer, Casa Neverlandia features unconventional treasures such as a brightly colored mosaic exterior, a Swiss-Family-Robinson-style bridge, numerous fire poles for a more fun and efficient way to change levels, and a system of PVC pipe “Whispermaphones” (or talk tubes) for communicating between floors.
Then there’s the environmental focus. Many of the building materials Talbot and his artist-partner Kay Pils used for construction were salvaged from old brick and steel yards, donated, or bought from reuse stores. With solar panels covering the four-story lookout tower and a rainwater collection system on the outdoor artist’s studio, this charmingly quirky home is every bit green-minded eco warrior as it is Dr. Seuss and Peter Pan.
Next time you’re throwing out last night’s takeout, take a peek into the Dumpster and think, What would it be like to live inside of one? Just as the revolution of tiny houses was making waves in the design world in 2014, one eco-minded Austin professor went a step further into extreme sustainability: he lived in this Dumpster for a year to “reimagine the way we live in our homes and continue the conversation about sustainability.”
Alongside his team of students, the used garbage container transformed from a receptacle for trash and rats to a sustainably cozy home and interactive teaching lab. While it couldn’t have been the most comfortable place to live—with only 33 square feet and no bathroom—we give him mad props for challenging our traditional ideas of the structures we call home, and for exploring themes of consumption and waste in such a radically creative way.
The Bloom House
This Westlake home takes the curved interiors trend to the next level—it was designed without any straight lines whatsoever. The result is a structure that looks less architectural and more sculptural.
Designer Charles Harker wanted to experiment with organic shapes and architecture to create harmony with the natural world. Just look at those twisting walls and arched ceilings looping and curving like melting wax under a hot sun. It’s a perfect example of the organic architecture of the ’70s, which created homes and buildings that were infused with nature’s principles, and in harmony with their environment. The Bloom House took more than 10 years to build and has been featured in the MOMA.
If you’re craving more views of this groovy pad, there’s good news. You can book it for a stay and spend your vacation living in a beautiful work of art.
Barbara’s Bird Cage
In East Austin’s Upper Boggy Creek sits a home that may look perfectly normal on the outside. Cross the front door threshold, however, and you’re in for a wild surprise. That’s because local artist Barbara Irwin has transformed her home into a literal found object gallery. From bird cages to doll heads to wooden power totems and loads of expertly arranged collectibles, Barbara showcases her career of transforming cast-off items into artistic treasures. She says, “When we learn to realize the uniqueness and beauty in everything, then we can understand that nothing is ever ordinary.”
Looking for Interior Designers in Austin, Texas?
Prefer funky over boring traditional? No matter what your style is, I can transform your dwelling from ho-hum into stunning, functional, and uniquely you. If you’re looking for a contemporary interior designer to help give your place a fresh and inspired makeover, contact me today—and let’s turn your current space into your dream dwelling.
J.Fisher Interiors’ studio is located in east Austin. To schedule your consultation appointment, please fill out the contact form or call us at 512.954.0904. We would love to hear from you!