“Keep Austin Weird” is the slogan of the Lone Star State’s capital, intended to promote local businesses—however unique. Now in its fourth year, The Weird Homes Tour™ showcases the wackiest, most outlandish abodes that live up to its motto. “Strange. Kooky. Magical. Peculiar. Funky. Eccentric. Weird. Whatever you call it, it’s what we love to celebrate in Austin” reads the group’s website.
The tour consists of a self-paced, self-driven excursion across the city, with 10% of all proceeds donated to local nonprofits and their fight for affordable housing. This year’s designated charity was Foundation Communities, the Austin-based affordable housing developer, and the tour spread across the city as far west as the Capital of Texas Highway.
For privacy reasons, tour sponsors only provide specific addresses to ticket holders each year, but you can find details on general locations in this guide to the weirdest, most whimsical and wonderful homes of Austin.
The Shipping Container Home
Located in an industrial area of South Austin, The Shipping Container Home is the work of architect and designer Michael De Ovando, who has been repurposing shipping containers into living spaces for over 35 years. His company, Container Living Solutions, aims to create a superior product for modular living and work spaces that can be shipped anywhere around the globe.
Barbara’s Bird Cage
In an area of East Austin known as Upper Boggy Creek, you will find the home of artist and collector Barbara Irwin. Her home, “Barbara’s Bird Cage,” showcases castaway items transformed into unique works of art, from doll heads to bird cages and other quirky collectibles.
The Torres Temple
The exterior of Michael Torres’s Travis Heights house seems like any other modern home, but once you step inside, you will find a series of rooms incorporating Feng Shui, chakra colors, and shaman shrines. Each room projects a particular energy, with an element of mystery that inspires creativity.
Ebba Springs Wildlife Refuge
Austin’s rapid growth has had significant consequences for local wildlife, which local artist Barbara Attwell Ritter seeks to counterbalance in her Cuernavaca neighborhood home, called Ebba Springs. The house and grounds incorporate wildlife habitats that attract bats, squirrels, and multiple species of birds—including birds of prey—and the interior features several of Barbara’s animal paintings and ecologically themed sculptures.
The Art Dome
Consisting of not one, but five connected concrete domes, each illuminated by windows and skylight panels, Austin musicians constructed the Art Dome in the 1970s. Also in the Cuernavaca neighborhood, the home’s current owners attribute the cozy, comfortable vibe to the curved walls and handwritten notes left behind by the original, groovy tenants.
In far East Austin, the local painter and acro-yogini Randi Southard has transformed her home into a space that takes many shapes and forms. It’s part visual and performing arts studio; part collaborative creative space for aerial artists, costume designers, painters, and musicians; and part healing center for bodyworkers, holistic energy consultants, and other health-loving yogis.
Barton Hills Art Oasis
Metal sculptures adorn every room of this Barton Hills home, but a particular highlight is the metal portrait of famous Russian witch Baba Yaga, which guards the library. The interior is always evolving: between sky painted ceilings, cat doors, closet bookshelves and bookshelf closets, the home—like Austin—is ever-changing.
Riggins’ Cabinet of Curiosities
After its first life as the home of Tim Riggins in the hit series Friday Night Lights, this University Hills house resurfaced as the aptly named Cabinet of Curiosities. Located northeast of downtown near U.S. Highway 290, the eclectic collection ranges from antique gynecological devices, 1930s dental chairs, and a pink 1950s salon hair dryer. Check out this interactive, virtual tour of all the oddities.
Florence’s Comfort House
The main attraction in this home is the owner herself, Florence, who founded Florence’s Comfort House to fill her neighborhood with love and acceptance. She has owned this colorful Montopolis abode for 25 years, decorating its interior with art and showering her community with a life of service.
Under the Sea
Located in one of Austin’s weirdest zones, the 78704, this house lives up to its surroundings and then some. There are at least 23 different colors exhibited throughout the exterior and interior, including a bathroom lit with 109 dichroic glass tiles. The whole house is a work of art, including the garden’s mesmerizing underwater mural.