Home is about more than just the bricks and mortar. It’s about the memories you make there as well, and the mark you leave on it that proudly declares “People are living here!”. We often think of house aesthetics as the exclusive domain of architects, but artists around the world have often been the ones to leave their stamp fearlessly on the houses they’ve inherited through fate. Here are 4 of their houses that will push the boundaries of your own imagination when you next upgrade your own!
Hundertwasser House, Vienna Austria
This apartment block — part of the Viennese public housing network — was transformed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Completed in 1985, the design choices embody a key principle that drove much of the artist’s later interventions: that a more human, and humane, architecture was possible. With terraced roof top gardens and “tree tenants”, irregular tiling and personalisable window facades, Hundertwasser House was designed as a space in which human beings could live in harmony with nature, and outside the tyranny of straight-lines and uniformity. Popular with the public and tourists, this project proved that public housing needn’t be a soulless place. In fact, this communal home was completed within budget, by deadline!
The Owl House, Nieu Bethesda South Africa
Helen Martins was not an artist; not in the traditional, socially vetted, sense of the word. She was born in rural South Africa in 1897 and appeared to be rather traditional — demure and retiring — until she came into her own with a sort of DIY renovation that turned her home into a mystical dream now called The Owl House. Working with local labourers, she conceived and oversaw the making of hundreds of abstracted sculptures of owls, camels, mermaids and pilgrims (to name a few). These she housed in her yard. Inside her home, she threw handfuls of crushed glass at her walls, to transform each into temples of light each evening. The effect by candle-light is awe inspiring, but she paid a heavy cost: her interventions caused her many injuries and possibly even her later blindness. While we endorse making your home your own (and visiting the Owl House), we’d recommend contracting professionals for the riskier renovations!
The Magic and Colourful Kingdom of Penolaraya, Penola South Australia
Being billed as “the weirdest house in Australia” might be a little harsh — after all, what this Penola Fantasy Theme Park really stands for is the passion of its owners to renovate, innovate and play. Packed with interactive fantasy art, model railways and a tea room, this home has been gradually transformed into a playground for kids of all ages and is open to the public. But you’ll have to hurry, because this prime property has recently been put on the market and there’s no guarantee that the next owner’s sense of home will be the same as the current. Or, as in our next case, it will be turned into a museum to preserve its legacy.
Casa Azul, Mexico City Mexico
Now the Museo Frida Kahlo, Casa Azul was the family home of the Frida Kahlo, one of Latin America’s most celebrated artists. With only a few of her paintings, the real magic of Casa Azul is the same as can be found in each of our own homes — the thumbprint of a person making their way through life as best they can with the hand they’ve been dealt. It’s in the choice of colours, her love of traditional Mexican decor, the traces of her famous love for Diego Rivera, and other domesticities (like her fastidiously traditional kitchen). These touches remind us daily that investing the spirit that turns a house into a home is an exercise within reach of all of us. And it happens simply by virtue of living there.
How do you turn your own house into a home? Share your own fondest memories of home on our Facebook page and you could win a free appraisal, courtesy of Modern Home Improvers. Knowing your home’s market value means your next decision on whether to renovate or move is informed by both the heart and the head.
Get in touch with Modern Home Improvers if you want to start chatting about improving your current home so you can keep your home that's filled with family memories.