A road trip through the South will bring sights of Tudor-style cottages, antebellum estates and repurposed plantations. While the beauty of these may strike you, other homes leave an impression for their unique or unusual nature. We found seven outside-the-box Southern homes for you.
7 Unusual Southern Homes
Located in a state known for being over the top, this Houston home is all but ordinary. For the builders of this home, just visiting the palaces of Morocco was not enough, so they decided to bring one back home, and no expenses were spared in insuring its authenticity. Original owners brought in an authentic Moroccan architecture firm, Arabesque Moresque, to design the home. Even before entering the gates leading to the palace, viewers will be struck by the white walls contrasting the colorful, mosaic-tiled geometric domes and the stucco roof. Upon further examination, more traditional pillars of Moroccan architecture can be seen: zellij (ceramic-tile mosaic), mirrored ceilings, large domes and an open central courtyard. The extravagance continues with the lush velvet carpeting, grand chandeliers and intricate wood carvings that decorate the interior.
In case you’re on the market for a home that transports you half-way across the globe, $5,827,400 can buy you this Moroccan mansion. With seven bedrooms, an elevator, game rooms, studies, multiple kitchens, a six-car garage and formal living rooms, this home qualifies as being “over-the-top.” The grounds filled with lavish gardens, a pool and a petting-zoo are just perks of your purchase.
Located amidst unassuming homes, this conspicuous shelter stands out in its home in Signal Mountain, TN (right outside of Chattanooga). Wanting to please his son, Curtis King built the home in 1973 — likely inspired by the UFO craze of the 1960s. The obscure home built from cement and steel is elevated by six pillars, which have a functional as well as aesthetic use by creating room underneath for car-parking. The rotund building resembles a flying saucer, and the windows and domed roof further contribute to its spaceship identity.
While the exterior surely qualifies the home to be featured as unusual, there are some rarities in the interior design as well. The 2,000-square-foot home previously featured a retractable staircase, but over the years, the entry became more permanent. Upon entry, a spiral staircase leads into the home. White furniture with bright orange accents and numerous small windows give the interior its “Jetsons”-style feel. Black accents and geometric designs further add to the retro interior.
The Spite House
Located in the space between two normal-sized homes in Alexandria, VA, this bright-blue historic house is unusual both for its size and its origin. At just 7 feet wide, the home may not seem like the most ideal living arrangement, and originally, it was not intended to be. The home was built in 1830 by the owner of the adjacent houses because he was tired of wagons using the alley space between the homes. His solution? Fill the alley with a house … out of spite. From the inside, you can still see the gauges left by wagon wheels on the brick walls. Over the years, the home has been used as a primary residence, but it serves more as a historic memento for current owners. Upon purchasing the house in 1990, the couple employed the work of a friend to accent the original features of the home such as the brick walls.
The interior of the unusual house is a test of efficient space use. With only 325 square feet to spare, it’s no wonder the furnishings were carefully planned! No nook or cranny goes without use; the space below the staircase even houses a cupboard and small microwave. The small home, although likely not originally within building codes, has become grandfathered into the modern day codes. The little, blue “spite” house has charmed the town, and this unique, Southern home has become a beloved building in Old Town Alexandria.
Keep Austin Weird, and in this case, sustainable. As part of a larger goal to solve the global housing crisis, ICON, an Austin-based company, designed a fully printable, fully functioning house. By partnering with New Story, a non-profit working to transform slums, ICON was able to print a prototype of their design in Austin, and you can go see the home. The most unusual part of the house is the method used to build it, but surprisingly, the house itself appears relatively normal. The mobile printer used to print the home was not the same plastic 3D printer familiar to some. This one uses cement to print out the house in under 24 hours. For $4,000, a house featuring a bedroom, bathroom, and porch, was built.
The idea behind the initiative is to revolutionize homebuilding. Construction has seen revolutions in the past that altered the course of building (Industrial Revolution, Power Revolution, etc.), and maybe, printing is the change of the future. ICON has a goal of building 100 homes in El Salvador sometime this year. Perhaps in the future, if the company is able to maintain the affordability, customizability and sustainability it has now, these homes may be more readily available to all.
While treehouses may be “in” right now, this Atlanta home stands out among the others. This secluded home in the city is a relaxing yet unusual escape. Literally suspended in the trees, the wooden bungalow is comprised of three separate “rooms” joined by rope-bridges. Each room serves a different purpose: sitting, sleeping and lounging. This treehouse, although originally built as an ode to a childhood hide-out, is now more of a grown-up escape. The sophisticated space is not completely closed off, but the tin roofs make it so rain is no disturbance. With a stay in the treehouse, you are not roughing it. It’s equipped with a double bed and antique furniture that give the space a luxurious yet rustic vibe. Unfortunately, not featured in the treehouse are a kitchen and bathroom, so it is not yet a completely sustainable living arrangement.
Swiss Family Robinson lovers can rejoice because they can finally fulfill their dream of living in a treehouse. The luxurious yet unusual home is available for vacation rental on Airbnb for $375 per night. Just a warning, though: You may want to book your escape in advance because your bucket-list stay is shared by others. In fact, the rental was listed as Airbnb’s #1 “Most wished-for listing worldwide” this year! We’ve spotted the first availability in September, but it probably won’t stay for long!
Johnson City, TN
Driving down the street in Johnson City, TN, a full-blown castle is the last thing you would expect to see, but if you happen to spot Crantzdorf Castle, your eyes are not playing a trick on you. The home, housed on a 13-acre estate, is meant to resemble an 18th century Spanish Castle. Gothic domes and stone pillars are not sights you see everyday in the South. The grandeur of the exterior is matched by the interior. A foyer adorned with imported marble and hand-carved moldings usher you inside this unusual Southern home.
The 22-foot, custom-made Parisian doors could welcome you home. While the exterior may feel dated, the amenities are anything but. A heated pool with a great view, manicured lawns, great gardens, a boat ramp and a boat dock (equipped with boat slips and jet ski lifts) make it easy to take advantage of the natural offerings of Johnson City. Indoors, an imported English pub, a full-blown movie theater, a mini-race track and a garage fit to accommodate up to 14 cars take the house to the next level. For just $2,049,700, this luxurious accommodation can be yours!
This airplane placed on a lakeside property is no crash-landed jet. In Benoit, MS, hairdresser Joanne Ussery converted a Boeing 727 plane into a humble abode. Inspiration for the house actually came from her brother-in-law, who was an air traffic controller at the time she was looking for a mobile home. Up until this point, Joanne was not content with her housing options — either too expensive or too small. Today, if you drive by the lakeside plot, you’ll see the hull of the jet N88701. This ordinary plane makes for an unusual home. While the exterior stayed the same, upon entry into the 127-foot aircraft, a fully functional home exists.
The plane itself only cost Joanne $2,000, while the refurbishing and moving of the aircraft was quite a bit more. Upon completion, $29,000 converted the Boeing 727 into a home. Three bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and bathroom can be found inside. Other amenities include a jacuzzi bath for ultimate relaxation, and hot running water and electricity are added perks! The next time the housing market doesn’t appeal to your liking, perhaps you, too, can think outside the box for inspiration.
See more amazing Southern homes — of all sizes and styles — in our “Homes” section. Click HERE!