Austin’s Weirdest Rental Is a Psychedelic Experience Totally Worth the Trip
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Austin’s Weirdest Rental Is a Psychedelic Experience Totally Worth the Trip

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By Lauren Jones
The 1,800-square-foot Bloom House in Austin, Texas, is so far-out, it’ll give you flashbacks.

Completed in 1984 by architect Charles Harker, the Bloom House is one of the world's weirdest rentable homes. Walking up to it feels like discovering an enchanted cottage in the woods—and there’s even a set of dwarf-like figures out front, which Harker calls the seven sentinels.

Describing what the Bloom House looks like is tricky; even architect Charles Harker won't reveal what it's intended to depict.

Describing what the Bloom House looks like is tricky; even architect Charles Harker won't reveal what it's intended to depict.

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Harker lists Cinderella's castle, the psychedelic '70s, and the Disney film Fantasia among his inspirations.

Harker lists Cinderella's castle, the psychedelic '70s, and the Disney film Fantasia among his inspirations.

"It’s supposed to be kind of like Cinderella’s castle," says Dave Claunch, the current owner of Bloom House. "There was also a big psychedelic movement in the 1970s, and a Disney film called Fantasia that was super trippy, which I think inspired a lot of it."

Harker built the home in Austin's Westlake Hills neighborhood for his master’s thesis while attending the University of Texas. Later, the architect and his friend Dalton Bloom (who provided capital for the project) sold it to friends from the University of Texas, and since then it’s never been fully occupied. Claunch purchased the home two years ago and restored it to its former glory over an 18-month period.

The twist of the fire place matches that of the main staircase and the carved wood is meant to emulate bones sticking out of skin.

The twist of the fire place matches that of the main staircase and the carved wood is meant to emulate bones sticking out of skin.

"A lot of art is spoon-fed to the consumer, and we’re told what to think and what to conclude," says Claunch. "Here, everyone can see something differently."

The Bloom House's unusual structure is made almost entirely from polyurethane foam and stucco. "Charles spent seven months out here with an 18-inch pruning saw carving it into shape," says Claunch. "There were some drawings, but it really evolved as he went and was organic."

Get some shut eye in the cavernous master bedroom, furnished with midcentury-inspired West Elm furniture.

Get some shut eye in the cavernous master bedroom, furnished with midcentury-inspired West Elm furniture.

Inside, guests can gather in the sunken living room, spend time on the patio, or sink into the built-in benches in the tower, which hosts an exterior patio at the highest point of the house. "He was very big on intimate spaces where people could talk and hang out," says Claunch.

Harker made this bench prototype to show Bloom what the home would eventually look like. Today, guests can relax amid the forest or spend time on the patio, which was added by owners in the 1980s.

Harker made this bench prototype to show Bloom what the home would eventually look like. Today, guests can relax amid the forest or spend time on the patio, which was added by owners in the 1980s.

While there is only one bedroom in Bloom House, there’s still plenty of room for guests. There’s even a tunnel-like area that kids love to explore near the front of the house. Recently outfitted by West Elm, Bloom House exudes the flair of the 1970s and is available to book online for $500 per night during the week and $600 a night on the weekends.

Related Reading: This Lush, Underground Home Is a Hideaway Fit For a Hobbit, We Never Thought We’d Want to Sleep Inside a Potato—Until Now 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Charles Harker

Renovator/Homeowner: Dave Claunch