Home, Weird Home
Halloween weekend is an oddly fitting time to go on a self-guided tour of architectural and interior design weirdness. But for these homeowners — whatever their chosen themes — they’re not costumes. These homes take commitment, from lifelong collections to murals to soil-based walls and a community endeavor. Weirdness is a state of mind, but it’s also a lifestyle that takes a long time to build, and most of us could use inspiration.
The most recent Weird Homes Tour took place in 2019, so October 29 will be a triumphant return for the odd Austin event. (Surely Austinites can understand the difficulties of having many strangers in personal homes for the past two years.) When the Weird Homes Tour says “weird,” it means it. These homes blow the sort-of-wacky out of the water, often appearing more like museums than someone’s primary residence.
“We are beyond excited to bring back the iconic Weird Homes Tour to Austin post-pandemic, and we couldn't be happier having our friends at [Modern Architecture + Design Society] in the driver's seat for this event," said tour founder David Neff in a press release. "Austin is awash in too many eggshell white condos, and this event, full of color, wild collections, and gorgeous content will continue to open Austin's eyes on what's possible for design.”
This year’s tour offers seven locations, a few of which have been longtime partners of the tour and appear in the coffee table book, Weird Homes: The People and Places That Keep Austin Strangely Wonderful. As the title suggests, the homes are only half of the experience. Visitors drive from house to house, and explore the interiors with the homeowner present, often happy to answer questions.
No one puts this much effort into interior design to be tight-lipped about it. Plus, it takes a pretty interesting person to, say, paint her driveway and back fence like the ocean and all its inhabitants; create a larger-than-life mermaid mosaic; and pour an epoxy countertop over at least a carry-on’s worth of vacation souvenirs. Lois Goodman has put more than 20 years of work and memories into “A Mermaid's Oasis of Color,” and can be recognized around town in her similarly bedazzled art car, tarot cards likely on hand. Artist D. Warden put similar blood, sweat, and tears into his mostly upcycled artist’s studio, “The Keep.”
“Morningwood,” an even more curatorial space, houses “ancient cars, ancient beads, doll parts, pulp erotica, and forgotten esoterica,” among many other items crammed into a shed or given places of honor in the house itself. The homeowner, Carl McQueary, runs an estate services team, and absolutely brings his work home. So does the live music and events producer Luis Zapata, whose “Music Home” contains more than 30 guitars and 8,000 vinyl records.
A more austere space can be found in the “Bloomhouse,” a 1973 structure known for its sculptural form (which looks oddly like Zero the ghost dog in 1993’s The Nightmare Before Christmas). The wavy, white plastered form is designed to evoke “the symbiotic interaction of man and nature,” and is a tourist attraction that offers roughly $2,000-minimum stays. The “Community Inn,” another stay accessible to the public, is decorated with goods by formerly unhoused artisans who live in the surrounding neighborhood, in a very Austin twist on tiny houses and co-op living.
Tickets ($40) for the October 29 tour, taking place from 10 am to 4 pm, are available on Eventbrite. More information about each home is available at weirdhomestour.com. Each listing includes short descriptions, photos, and even videos on some of the longer partnerships. The Weird Homes book ($19.99) explores each selected house in much greater detail.