Pools, in-home theaters, bowling alleys — all these luxurious enhancements would make your dream house the choice hangout spot. Everyone has a different idea of what makes an ideal home, and unique features never hurt. When money is no object, the limits to what a home can become are endless.
These homeowners live in unusual dwellings that attract, and frankly, demand attention. Even though these spaces could become iconic landmarks on their own, they’re absolutely lived in — and a glimpse inside reveals what the day-to-day reality is like when you’re living in some of the weirdest houses around…
1. Freedom Cove – British Columbia, Canada: Artists Wayne Adams and Catherine King created the self-sufficient sanctuary of their dreams in the remote, solitary waters of coastal British Columbia. As a sculptor and a retired ballerina, they sought a house that was as unique as themselves. Their “floating food garden” is certainly one of a kind.
Painted bright pink and teal, the character of their anchored houseboat packs a punch. It features include an art gallery, dance floor, expansive greenhouse, and a lighthouse that doubles as a shower. Together the couple has lived and raised two kids on the interconnected platforms for 26 years.
Besides looking super funky, the house is environmentally sustainable. Wayne and Catherine generate their own electricity using photovoltaics. All of their water is collected from a nearby waterfall. Food grown from their gardens and fishing from a hole in the floor is how they get their food. Their dedication to green living is something to envy.
But living this lifestyle has some downsides. High winds and severe storms routinely occur in the area, so their roof has blown off a few times, and pests — like a 3-pound rat — complicate their efforts to maintain their floating residence. But after years of adapting their home to their surroundings, they accept the challenges.
2. Noah’s Arc – The Netherlands: We’ve all had some intense dreams, but carpenter Johan Huiber’s took one wild nightmare super literally. One night he dreamed an intense storm flooded his province of Noord-Holland. He woke up inspired. Johan decided to build a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark.
In 2007, the Christian fundamentalist opened the doors of his massive ship to the public. At 70 meters long, 9.5 meters wide, and 13 meters high, it would take a miracle to make this big boy float. But it does! The Ark was designed for sailing Dutch canals, but it can’t handle waves higher than 2 meters.
Ready to move on to the next project, Johan sold the Ark to puppeteer and entrepreneur Aad Peters in 2010. He paid 900,000 euros and had big plans for the investment. Identifying not as religious, but as a storyteller, he filled the ship with live animals and intended to sail his attraction around Northern Europe.
But the vision didn’t match reality. Aad compared his animal houseboat to “camping on the sea.” He removed the real animals and built reproductions of biblical stories instead. Since then, he’s had several crashes that damaged the Ark, but, still, it has weathered the storm.
3. Sandcastle House – Rio De Janiero, Brazil: Sun, sand, and sea. The three ingredients to your own slice of paradise come at a high cost. But Marcio Mizael Matolias has lived beachfront on the ocean for 22 years for free — in a sandcastle.
Supported by driftwood, a 6-square-meter room lies a beneath a much grander looking sandcastle. Initially, Marcio intended to fill the bunker with his sizable book collection. But, having grown up on the beach, his small underground room felt like home.
The elaborate turrets of the castle made it a local attraction. Marcio said his design was inspired by the Spanish architect Gaudi. Despite the simplicity of his home, Marcio feels like a real King. There are challenges to living in a sand structure, but he has worked out solutions.
Marcio runs a second-hand bookshop outside his castle and receives donations from appreciative tourists. Since there is no bathroom, he uses the firehouse nearby for 1 dollar. Sand Castle King Marcio has adopted that carefree beach attitude.”I’m happy! As everyone says and as you can also read in some books, happiness is a spiritual state.”
4. Private Zoo – Dubai: Rashed Belhasa has made a career out of flaunting his lavish lifestyle to his captivated Instagram followers. So when it came to his mansion, Rashed knew it would have to be wild enough to attract attention…
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So, he added an impressive private zoo to the grounds! Lions, tigers, and bears! Literally, he has the trifecta of frightening animals roaming his property. He names each addition after his favorite brands, like Versace and Dior. According to Rashed, only the baby cubs are allowed to come inside for snuggles.
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Mariah Carey, Jackie Chan, Tyga, and countless other famous people have hung out with the wealthy youngster in his zoo. To the critics that call his nonprofit wildlife park cruel, he claims to rescue neglected animals from other private zoos with fewer funds.
5. Falcon’s Nest – Prescott, Arizona: For astrologer and tarot readers Ernst and Srishti, fate intervened when it came to this house. On their regular runs through the countryside, they would pass a peculiar tower house and fantasize about calling it home.
Out on yet another run, the couple was hit by a speeding pickup truck. They were injured, but they healed and the insurance payout made the impossible possible. They purchased the strange house, called the Falcon’s Nest, for 1.5 million in March of 2018.
Designed by architect Sukumar Pal, the giant dwelling stands 104 feet high with 10 floors. It’s the second tallest single-family home on the planet. A house so big must be a bear to clean, and the new owners claim it takes two full days to clean all 304 windows!
6. Mars Desert Research Station – Hanksville, Utah: Life on Mars is the new normal for the people who call this interesting dwelling home. The red rocky terrain of the Utah desert serves as headquarters for a scientific project, where astronauts, engineers, and college students recreate and study what living on the Red Planet might be like.
Eight scientists cram themselves into a small laboratory no bigger than a tiny apartment. Here, they limit themselves to freeze-dried food, share one toilet, and simulate almost everything a Mars space mission would entail. Even though it’s all about science, living in this space would be an unforgettable experience.
Mars Desert Research Station