Not Your Average Home
It's been said that a man's home is his castle, but human ingenuity being what it is, that castle can sometimes take the shape of a toadstool...or a toilet. Take our tour the following homes, which are tributes to the creativity and perseverance of designers and homeowners around the world -- and anything but average.
Mushroom House near Rochester, New York
You'd expect to find hobbits living in this fanciful marriage of nature and engineering, which was built in 1970. Four 80-ton pods sit on stems of concrete and steel, surrounded by woods and a waterfall. Inside, custom cabinets, windows and walls conform to the flowing design, and unique lighting and tile work (including a tile "waterfall" that spills from a tub onto the floor) make this home a wonder to behold.
UFO house in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Outer space is the theme for this otherworldly house, which "landed" in 1970. Built by a man who likes unusual things, the Frisbee-shaped space-age wonder sits on steel legs and is encircled by square windows. Inside, three bedrooms and two baths make the homeowners comfortable. And when they want privacy, all they have to do is press a button to retract the staircase.
Toilet-shaped house near Seoul, South Korea
When the World Toilet Association decided to build a showcase home to call attention to the 2 billion people worldwide who live without toilets, what other shape could it take? This 2007 home, which features state-of-the-art bathrooms, as you might expect, is built of white concrete, steel and glass. From the side it looks like any modern house, but when you see an aerial view...it's definitely a toilet.
The Aura Residence in Cyprus
Inspired by a famous Japanese woodcut called "The Great Wave of Kanagawa," this luxurious showplace has aerial views that reveal its connection to water and waves. Inside, state-of-the-art technology meets futuristic design in both features and appliances. All of the furnishings, right down to the linens, were carefully chosen to make this one of the most luxurious homes in the world. The asking price? Only US$12.5 million.
Cave Home in Festus, Missouri
In 2004, a family with vision bought this former mine tunnel (which also had been a roller rink and concert venue) and painstakingly turned it into a cozy 17,000-square-foot home, complete with luxury baths and a gourmet kitchen. The property includes three freshwater springs and 14 waterfalls, and the sandstone walls of the cave, plus geothermal and passive solar energy, keep the home comfortable year-round without a furnace or air conditioning. Faced with financial trouble in 2009, the Sleeper family tried selling the property on eBay, but last-minute refinancing allowed the Sleepers to keep their home-in-a-cave.
Skinniest House in NYC
Built in 1873, this little townhouse in New York's West Village is only 9.5 feet wide and 42 feet long, but it has a big history and a price tag to match. It was home to Edna St. Vincent Millay when she wrote the poems that won her a Pulitzer Prize in 1922, and actors John Barrymore and Cary Grant also resided there. Despite its small size, the seven-room house features three bedrooms, two baths, and four working fireplaces. After an extensive renovation, the asking price for this little 990-square-foot gem was US$4.3 million.
The World Stands on Its Head House in Trassenheide, Germany
The architects just wanted "to do something different," and this unusual house is the result. It's a normal house in every respect, except for being completely upside down. Even the furniture is topsy-turvy. Visitors enter through the attic, and climb a stairway to reach the ground floor.
Beer Can House in Houston, Texas
Described as a "monument to eccentricity and recycling," this folk art house is a Houston landmark and homage to all things beer: cans, bottles, bottle tops and other beer paraphernalia. The unique home is the brainchild of owner John Milkovisch, a retired upholsterer for the Southern Pacific Railroad, who started the project in 1968 and worked on it for the next 18 years. Today, the Beer Can House is preserved by a Houston arts organization.
The House from “Up” in Seattle, Washington
Whoever said art imitates life had it right. Edith Macefield, the feisty, independent octogenarian who refused to sell her home to developers for nearly US$1 million, even after a five-story commercial complex was built around it, lived the true-life story that parallels the movie, "Up." When Macefield died in 2008, her home was purchased by a company that conducts motivational seminars. The new owners plan to remodel the quirky house for office space, elevate it to the height of the surrounding