Uniquely Interesting: One-Of-A-Kind Details from Real-Life Homes

published Dec 30, 2015
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(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Even after countless House Tours over the years, there are still homes that stop us in our tracks with their unique art, architecture, and… Skeeball machines. Join us in celebrating 30 of the year’s most fascinating features, including a hydraulic bed, copper walls, graffiti, and, of course, a cat bridge!

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Living Room Skeeball (above)

Joey started using Airbnb 5 years ago, when he lived in a much smaller apartment (but in which there was still, of course, room for his Skeeball machine). He rented out his “couch or his Skeeball machine” for $40 a night, and when the enthusiasm caught on, it encouraged him to continue building what is now a booming arcade-rental business (he now owns 35 restored vintage Skeeball machines that he rents out all over San Francisco & LA).

(Image credit: Cathy Pyle)

The mosaic floor in the dining room that John made in memory of their much-loved dachshund, Basil.

(Image credit: Kristan Lieb)

Studio in the Sky

Mike’s lofted music space.

(Image credit: Selena Kirchhoff)

Hydraulic Bed

Andrew and my father worked really hard to create our beadboard bed with lift-up storage. It’s beautiful, and functional (it even has hydraulic lifts built in!) and stores so much. There’s just no way we could get by without it.

(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Burlap Wall

From the comments:
Pierce Atkinson As for the burlap wall, it was a definitely a learning curve. You are absolutely correct that burlap is loosely woven. I ended up pinning the top with tacks and then working my way down with a home made wall paper paste of cornstarch and water boiled down. As a renter I didn’t want to ruin the walls with wall paper paste, this way the corn starch paste can easily be wiped off with hot water. (Now that I think of it I’m not sure if it was corn starch or flour) Once the paste dried I just removed the tacks at the very top and the holes were covered by the weave of the burlap.

(Image credit: Kristan Lieb)

Floating Vanity

A catwalk turned into a nook for makeup and jewelry

(Image credit: Selena Kirchhoff)

Original Art Deco Peephole

Julie likes to greet guests with her cat Frances’s face through the peephole.

(Image credit: Arthur Garcia-Clemente)

Scarf Storage

  • Scarf hanger: copper pipe from Home Depot
(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)

Nintendo Bed

Proudest DIY: The Mario Bros. mural on Conor’s bed. My dad made that bed for me from scratch when I was 6, so I am very happy that Conor is using it now, and that I could customize it for him.

(Image credit: Fabienne Ayina)

Bathroom Door

The glowing orange Plexiglas bathroom door looks like the entrance of a fancy night club restroom. Mihalis built the sliding door from scratch and got the men/women symbol sticker from a deserted building.

(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

Mask Mirror

Favorite Element: I love my mirror covered in bright colorful masks. I want to keep them up all year long.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Hand-Stenciled Bathroom

Proudest DIY: That’s also tough to narrow down because I’ve done so much to this place. A couple of them are… the stenciling in the downstairs bathroom. (I won’t publicly admit how long it took me to finish this project but I will say that I don’t plan on ever doing stenciling again Ha!)

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Storage Bed

We spent two years in the apartment with a functional wooden bed frame, and were constantly fighting for more storage space… After considering a number of options for new bed frames and storage, we decided to get over our hesitations about putting a little money into building in a rental, and decided to design something that would fit our needs better than a standard out-of-the-box solution. We had fallen in love with a number of custom built-ins we saw online, and decided to use them as our inspiration for designing a lofted storage bed with plenty of space to hold our growing collection of books. We found an awesome carpenter on Craigslist who worked with us to keep the build within our modest budget, and fit the bed exactly to our space. All-in, it cost us about the same as what a nice bed frame would have, but it’s completely custom, and offers a ton of storage!

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Patio Graffito

  • Graffiti: This was a You Go Girl piece that was originally on the back of the house. George saved the siding and put it back together like a puzzle so we could preserve it. We both really love this particular graffiti artist, so it’s one of our favorite parts of the house.
(Image credit: Katy Cartland)

Radiant Orchid Fireplace

From the comments:
mirawing Love the color of the fireplace, especially with gray and black color scheme. One question: How did hubby feel about it? Both my ex-hubby and current one allow me to do just about anything decorating-wise, but pink in any hue would be no-no.

la_florecita [Jen] @mirawing The Radiant Orchid fireplace was my husband’s idea. I thought he was kidding at first.

(Image credit: Breanne Johnsen)

Paper Chandelier

Favorite Elements: …The Ingo Maurer paper chandelier in our kitchen/dining room is also a favorite. We replaced the lamp’s pre-designed paper notes with blank sheets that have been designed by our creative friends. It’s like a constantly evolving piece of art.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Custom-Built Bathroom

  • Sink/cabinet: made by George—he used his old outdoor fish sink and built a new cabinet for the bottom.
  • Shower: George got the idea from his family’s house in Hunt, Texas. The simple style eliminated the need for tile and incorporated the shower into the concrete floor.
  • Tree branch pulls: We used twisted wood brought to George by a friend from Pennsylvania years ago.
(Image credit:

Outdoor Bath

The claw-foot tub adds soaking potential to the outdoor shower, making it twice as nice.

(Image credit: Natalie Jeffcott)

Sleeping Tram

Earlier this year, Angela started restoring the old tram and created a sitting room in the middle of it and a bedroom at one end.

(Image credit: Kate Bowie Carruth)

Bedroom Loft & Ladder

The ladder [up to the bedroom] was handmade out of plumbing materials from Home Depot.

(Image credit: Nancy Mitchell)

Bedside Swing

Matt made the swing bedside table – Allison got the idea from Pinterest.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Wooden Wall

  • Reclaimed wood mixture wall: Treeline Woodworks
(Image credit: Justice Darragh)

5 Mural

So what happens when you’re an advertising broadcast producer (and mother of two), marrying an advertising creative director (and father of three), suddenly in need of a functional home for this newly-expanded family of seven? …The skylight provides instant architectural drama for the “5” mural, a tribute to their 5 kids.

(Image credit: Mike Hetu)

Cat Bridge

When Kaelie’s dad asked her what she wanted for birthday one year, she didn’t know. After some thought, she said, “A bridge for Zootie.”

(Image credit: Katie Vie)

Beach Glass Counters

The kitchen countertop, the stove hearth, and the bathroom countertop are all concrete, each slab poured around an artful arrangement of pieces of glass that Katie found on trips to Lake Erie.

(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Salvaged Stairs

George had the design for the stairwell years ago but was unable to convince the client to let him build it, so the design sat on hold. Using scraps from other projects, he and [colleague] Parry were able to create a code-compliant stairwell using different dimensions of wood.

(Image credit: Sarita Relis Photography)

Hand-Painted Gate

Intricate doors, designed and hand-painted by Vasanti herself, hang from a corrugated metal fence marking the entry to her patio and home.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Sleeping Nook With Hidden Storage

The architect reimagined the standard open box floorpan and created a very inventive solution for storage and sleeping options. Normally, in an open loft you’ll be lucky if you have one closet. Fortunately for Greg, he’s got cabinetry, closets, and two huge pull-out drawers built in under his bed nook. The architect created a master bedroom sleeping nook and a little elevated office/den/guest sleeping nook by the window.

Girly Light

  • Neon sign: God’s Own Junk Yard in Walthamstow
(Image credit: Emily Billings)


Liz and her talented brother, Chris Karney, designed and engineered the treehouse for Liz’s daughter, Frida. The structure was built with reclaimed decking from a job Chris was working on. The wall paneling was “one of the perks of the job,” explains Liz. “We did a big barn clean-out and this had been pulled out of the farmhouse at some point and saved in the barn!” The round windows were found at the Brimfield Flea Market.

(Image credit: Hayley Kessner)

Copper Wall

This home is a real feast for texture lovers! The copper wall curves gracefully through the upstairs hallway and was handmade by Gregory himself! The copper sheet was treated with copper sulphate and salt to create the beautiful patina.