You're single and you own a house. How do you make it weird?
March 15, 2024 10:38 AM   Subscribe

Pop quiz, hotshot. You own a house. There's not really a yard to speak of. No one else has a veto. You can do anything you like with it. You don't care if the house is later listed on sites where people gawk at real estate listings and wonder what on earth the owner was thinking. In fact you want to make it weird, like that one video about the tiny house with fold-away furniture. What do you do?

Floor to ceiling bookcases with an attached rolling ladder? Cork floors because they're a joy to walk on? A stand-up urinal in the bathroom? An outside shower? A secret room? An indoor climbing wall? Just... some particular really nice window covering system? Is there any multi-use or single-purpose furniture that speaks to you? Murphy beds everywhere?

Looking for inspiration.
posted by Number Used Once to Home & Garden (64 answers total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
Make an entire room into an indoor greenhouse
posted by Tim Bucktooth at 10:49 AM on March 15 [5 favorites]

What if every room was a secret room? You walk in the front door, there are no obvious ways to any other rooms... Bonus points if the beds were all murphy beds behind false bookshelves.
posted by advicepig at 10:50 AM on March 15 [22 favorites]

I never close the bathroom door, I have a velociraptor in my (very small) front yard, and all of the TVs in my home are just hooked right up to logged in personal computers for my exclusive personal convenience.
posted by phunniemee at 10:51 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]

I had a built-in bookshelf system that has a murphy bed in the middle of it. I love it and it looks really cool.
posted by OrangeDisk at 10:58 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

I love driving by the Mushroom House!
posted by cooker girl at 11:00 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

You could add a pneumatic tube system for sending messages between rooms.

Green walls are pretty and improve indoor air quality.

A multi-room model train setup would be cool.

You could also do something with water infrastructure, for example indoor water gardens, or something that repurposes gray water.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 11:00 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]

Install a fire suppression sprinkler system.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:03 AM on March 15

Pick two dissimilar things you like to do and figure out how to optimize space for both of them at once. Greenhouse and dance studio. Art studio and zen meditation seating. Cat maze and dinner parties.
posted by clew at 11:06 AM on March 15 [3 favorites]

Everything is either built into the walls or wall-mounted (e.g. spare chairs) because the dream is never cleaning under or behind anything ever again. (#1 to the bookshelves and rolling ladder, naturally.)

Absolutely the lushest nest of a reading nook, whether that's a secret room or a massive window seat (like, "you could nap here" sized) behind draperies.

Elaborate inside hammock with an interesting canopy. If you like plants, vining plants would be fun to play with here.

For "weird in a US context" - separate bathroom and water closet. And then some trompe l'oeil silliness in the water closet, like a giant window looking over a nebula.
posted by EvaDestruction at 11:08 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]

Color. Color everywhere. All sorts of colors, with no particular emphasis on "tasteful" or the like. Not a white wall in the joint.

(I wish I could find this one Instagram account of a house in England that is my dream, but I seem to have lost it, dammit. But there are others on there if you start cruising around.)
posted by BlahLaLa at 11:14 AM on March 15 [11 favorites]

There are only about two reasons I'd ever want to get my own house: (a) have whatever pets I wanted, (b) so I could paint chalkboard paint all over at least one wall and have a doodle wall. So, I vote for DOODLE WALL!!!!!
(I think there's some kind of ... dry erase paint you can get too? It's been awhile since I looked at that sort of thing though.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:16 AM on March 15 [7 favorites]

Oh I also got a giant couch the size of the entire seating area of my living room because the only thing I want to do in this room is sit on my couch and I'm the only one that matters. Over 75 square feet of couch.
posted by phunniemee at 11:24 AM on March 15 [12 favorites]

We converted one of our closets into a reading nook with a vintage dresser on the bottom for drawers.
posted by Lucubrator at 11:26 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

I would build a network of ramps and shelves high up for my cats to run around and observe their kingdom, with little cat doorways so they could go from room to room without having to jump down.

I'd also put in a catio, so they could enjoy time outside, without my having to worry about their getting run over by a car or getting injured by another animal.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 11:27 AM on March 15 [21 favorites]

We have a fort with a swing and crash pads in what's nominally an 8x9' bedroom. It's nice as-is but would be extra awesome larger and in the main living space, especially with high ceilings.
posted by teremala at 11:29 AM on March 15 [1 favorite]

You don't have to be living alone to be weird; in fact, having kids is very compatible. For instance, a hammock chair hanging from the ceiling or planting your whole yard with sunflowers.
posted by slidell at 11:36 AM on March 15 [2 favorites]

You may find some inspiration in the very charming children's picture book The Big Orange Splot. In which the homeowner, Mr. Plumbean, confronted by his annoyed and skeptical neighbors, repeats the refrain, "My house is me, and I am it. My house is where I like to be, and it looks like all my dreams." Highlights include a frangipani tree and an alligator in the front yard. Highly recommend. (The book, not necessarily the alligator).
posted by hovey at 11:44 AM on March 15 [9 favorites]

Dance/yoga studio room with floor-to-ceiling mirrors! ~Soundproofed room for listening to or making music! Theater room with curtains, swank seats, a big screen, surround sound! A library room with hodgepodge bookcases growing out of the walls and floor like a coral reef - I’ve always dreamed of built-ins and a rolling ladder, too, but your question makes me think about how you could make a warren of bookcases with cozy, hidden nooks for comfy chairs. A room with a beautiful window and hooks in the ceiling beams for a swing/hammock! MOAR WINDOWS

One of my mother’s dear friends installed a river-stone walk in the middle of her living room.
posted by rrrrrrrrrt at 12:03 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

No one else has a veto.

Then I would be building up, replacing the roof with upper levels, cantilevering out.
posted by Rash at 12:04 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]

This is probably highly climate-dependent, but I'd do whatever needed to be done in order to have at least 1000 square feet of the home be outdoor deck/porch living space. Knock out windows and make them sliding doors. Knock out entire walls and replace them with screens. Hammocks instead of couches?! I crave the illusion of living in a treehouse in the forest.

Also, I'd go crazy with toilets. Composting (which really can smell lovely--not just okay--when done well), incinerating, this one that looks like a black egg, any of the Toto $$$$ ones.

Oh and a bathroom that exists into a greenhouse. The bathroom would be part of the indoor/outdoor space and that would include an access point to the giant greenhouse that would be attached, and ideally I'd be able to take a bath in or near the greenhouse. Or maybe what I'm thinking of is more like a conservatory. Either way, bathing surrounded by flowers.
posted by knotty knots at 12:13 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]

I have always wanted a house that makes much more creative use of 3-dimensional space than most human architecture. If you think of the kinds of climbing that most kids are used to doing, on playground climbing structures but also on interior spaces for children --- why don't adults get to live in 3-D like that, with platforms and sunken areas and netting and overlooks and nooks? So that's what I'd build.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 12:31 PM on March 15 [6 favorites]

Fake fossils. Murals, paintings in kitchen instead of upper cabinetry. Aftermarket dumbwaiter. Indoor trees. Sliding bookcases/secret door nonsense. An excess of reading nooks, stained glass, clocks, and lamps. Dining room/dining area as library or project area. Non-neutral ceiling paints. Pajamas, robes, and lounge-type clothes in coat closet, to "slip into something more comfortable" a.s.a.p.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:49 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]

Don’t get a cork floor because the veneer surface will wear away and it’ll end up looking like worn particle board.

Get yourself a proper cedar lined SAUNA! It doesn’t require any special plumbing - you just need en electrician to install the stove. If I miss anything about having a house, it's the sauna. The greatest mental health aid in human history.
posted by brachiopod at 12:50 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]

Net loft area
An amazing, fill-to-the-ceiling library.
Green plants.
An indoor lap pool.
Wall maze for the cats.
All sorts of secret indoor areas and passages.
Colors that I like... and no rental unit white anywhere.
posted by stormyteal at 12:51 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]

My bathroom would be as pink and as 50s as possible.
posted by vunder at 12:54 PM on March 15 [5 favorites]

I've been in a house with a Net Loft like the one linked by stormyteal, and it was great. Kids loved hanging out on it and doing somersaults and stuff. My favorite moment was when I was in the room below and Cheerios started raining down from above. Someone had violated the "no food on the net" rule. Luckily, no milk was involved.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 1:21 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

encrust the exterior with gargoyles!!! I have yet to do this but hope to someday. My favourite house addition, however, is a roof over the back deck and outdoor couches, so in nice weather it's like an outdoor living room.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:24 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

This is a little boring relative to some of the other suggestions but if i had my druthers all of my kitchen tools would be hung on the wall on a pegboard (or Wall Control slotted panels, more specifically), no need to open any drawers. I credit Julia Child for the inspiration.
posted by supercres at 1:36 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

Paint the exterior black. Black houses look neat. And rig up an outdoor shower.
posted by Vatnesine at 1:55 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

I’m hoping to build a small rustic cabin next to the lilac bush out in my tiny backyard, something just big enough for a cot and a chair. There is also talk of giant flower murals.
posted by mochapickle at 2:03 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]

I'd probably have to build it but my ideal just me house

- fairly small. 2 bedrooms, mine and a guest both with ensuite
- an office/library
- living room
- kitchen

So far boring. BUT
- every room would have corner windows. With windows that open many ways.
- my bathroom would have a window in the shower. So I can have a hot shower, on a cold winter day, with the window open
- A sun room for me and my plants.
- On the non sunny side of the house, a deep porch with screens that are easy to open/close, so I will be screened or not depending on the bug situation
- A swim spa in that room as well.
- A white gallery room with all the art I love.
- many dogs
- No couches. Just lots of comfy chairs.
- No LED lights anywhere. Bah.
- Window coverings on a switch so I could just open and close without having to go there.
- ANd the best of all, all my things would remain where I left them!
posted by Ftsqg at 2:13 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]

Even a tiny yard can be home to wild and crazy (and useful!) plants! Low maintenance too if you pick the right stuff native to your area. If you tell us where in the world you are, I can suggest a list of fun weirdo plants.
posted by SaltySalticid at 2:24 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

My own daydream along the same lines is to coat a room in mirrors: not just the walls, but also the ceiling, door, and floor. Then add two or three moveable room dividers, likewise covered in mirrors and positioned at non-right angles.
posted by foursentences at 2:53 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]

I just read an article in the NYT about a woman who designed her bungalow style house into a mini-Versailles. Expensive but I love the idea of leaning fully into a design style that doesn't "fit" with the neighbors... the time period... not sure the article is publicly available but the title is "From an Unassuming Bungalow, She Created a 'Micro Versailles' " and it's dated March 8, 2024.
posted by sm1tten at 2:56 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

Giant cat tree with human-sized perches.

Garden room/conservatory with water feature.

At least one room entirely themed around your favorite historical period or fantasy or science-fiction setting. Or just go all out and do the whole house!
posted by velvet_n_purrs at 3:13 PM on March 15 [1 favorite]

my apartment came with an oddly enormous medicine cabinet - far more space than I need for my necessities - so I turned it into a secret art gallery with framed prints, little paintings, cool fossil rocks, etc. - it always makes me so happy when I open it up to get my toothbrush and see all the lovely things hidden inside!
posted by boomdelala at 3:43 PM on March 15 [11 favorites]

The answer you are looking for is Design Toscano.
posted by Rora at 6:26 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

I painted my kitchen pink, put up dinosaur wallpaper in the bathroom (that has original 50s pink tile), a T.rex in the backyard that stands guard over the pool next to the garage that I painted in a rainbow and gnomes and armadillos in the front yard.

Next goal is trying to figure out a way to get mini golf in the backyard and a catio.
posted by magnetsphere at 6:43 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

I am actually IN this situation right now and so far i have strung fairly lights down the spiral staircase and decorated it with scarves, painted the bathroom myself in soft shaded ombre, hung my tacky AI art prints everywhere, all my furniture is funky mismatched banged up stuff from Habitat for Humanity, and plan I to turn the yard into a riot of wildflowers and weeds to the fury of my neighbors, but there's no HOA so hahahahah.
posted by The otter lady at 7:21 PM on March 15 [7 favorites]

Add light tunnels from roof to lowest level. No furniture, only benches at different levels with cushions. Pillow fort. Padded floor and soft furniture like living in a giant fluffy bed. A safe hidden behind a painting in the wall. Drawers in all of your stair risers. Floor to ceiling wall of art. Hand painted murals throughout the house. Disco ball. Wall of test tubes to hold and propagate plant cuttings. Presence sensors in all rooms with lights and music programmed to follow you around. Shoe room. Skylights above shower. Orangerie. Build a greenhouse/potting shed. Sunken conversation pit. All rooms themed by color. All of your furniture is hanging (hammock, swings, clear ball chair). Program your bedroom lights to gently wake you up with a sunrise palette while your blackout shade rolls up at your alarm and your favorite song plays.
posted by Bunglegirl at 7:24 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]

Lots of rhinestones and disco tiles everywhere.

There’s a sweet woman on TikTok who shows off all the little inventions her husband has made for her to make her life easier. Obviously they are partnered, but stuff like “here’s a clip on the wall for my gloves because I hated getting the out of the cabinet” or here’s this cantilevered thing to keep the doors open while I come inside” type stuff. Stuff that truly fits the functions of YOUR needs. Whether that’s a specific hat hook or a reading nook. Or a miniature matching dog couch. Or huge photos of you and your friends. A (not) tasteful nude pic that makes you feel sexy as hell. A brick in the shower so you can easily shave your legs. Whatever!
posted by raccoon409 at 7:53 PM on March 15 [4 favorites]

Painted floors, wool rugs. Color. Prisms in windows. Fairy lights in every room at windows and in place of nightlights.

I love distinctive door colors, even colors I don't like.

I friend makes wire shapes, then adds iridescent wrap to make light covers. Another friend makes wire shapes and covers them with translucent fabric for light covers.

I got a pine cabinet with glass doors and ended up filling it, mostly, with jars of collections. dice, action figures, small rubber ducks, little dinosaurs, colored pulltabs, fortunes from cookies. Basically, stuff a crow might collect, esp. a literate crow. I have lots of books and bookshelves, sadly no rolling ladder, and there are figurines, windup toys and other doodads on the shelves because I like them and I'm 10.

I have a big elevated front deck, once it's warm, I rarely close that door, just the screen. Outdoors space is wonderful. This year I need to make a mosquito net area.
posted by theora55 at 8:19 PM on March 15 [3 favorites]

Go all in on obsolete tech. Dumbwaiters, a pneumatic tube system, and old fashioned intercom system.
posted by brookeb at 10:04 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

Also do an indoor pool like the one in Brainstorms.
posted by brookeb at 10:06 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

I always said if I were rich, I would have all my bedrooms/guest quarters be wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling monochrome. There would be the red room, the green room, the yellow room, the blue room, etc. and everything inside each room would be different hues/values of that same color.

Less ambitious:I always thought it would be funny to have a super creepy guest room. Like unsettling old portraits, weird dolls and masks, warped mirrors, etc. Would be a great excuse to snatch up every cool, cursed item from the thrift/antique stores.
posted by a.steele at 11:26 PM on March 15 [2 favorites]

I saw an amazing house on Reddit that definitely fits this brief. Not my own style, but definitely the style of the person who decorated it and they really committed.
posted by Eyelash at 3:39 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

Hey, that's me. I've been making the yard weird first (paths! garden beds! die lawn die!), because yardwork is unavoidable, and cheap compared to furniture and renovations. I'm considering a labyrinth path.

I like the quirky coffee-shop vibe, and am working towards that in the 'public' rooms. Interesting things on the walls and bookshelves (art, craft, weird finds), comfy chairs to curl up in. I have a bean-bag chair and now a chaise lounge. Many throw blankets. I like light to happen on its own, and have lamps on timers and motion sensors in closets. Catio/screened porch is on my list. Color: paint, murals, stained glass, prisms. (Murals for peak gawking.)

If I were brave, I'd do this with the bathroom. Spray paint!
posted by mersen at 5:19 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

I have a cave. My bedroom is painted a delightful dark dark teal and is set up to block as much light as possible. It's the best. My only regret is that I left the ceiling white, and haven't gotten around to painting it dark as well. One day I'll get to it.

I also paid a friend with an eye for interior design to set up the layout of my apartment perfectly for ME after struggling with it for 2 years, sometimes owning your own stuff means you can pay someone else to figure it out for you. (Some friends thought this was frivolous, I still think it was money really well spent)
posted by larthegreat at 5:25 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

One day I will convince my husband that we need a flag pole (for a pirate flag, of course).

An Observatory.
posted by freethefeet at 6:18 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

Oh god, the possibilities…

I’d put one of these in whatever yard space I had, front or back.

One room could be a decked out home theater with a projector, giant screen, big comfy seating and hi fi sound system. Add some heavy velvet curtains for ambiance.

What are your hobbies? A creative space is lovely. Recording studio. Craft room. Maker space with CNC/3D printer. A big sink and rack for dyeing projects.

A mural wall that hides built in cabinets/closets/dressers.

A mini pub with bar, dartboard, and/or pool table.

I love the idea of Murphy Beds everywhere but why stop there? Transform the whole room.

Someone buy me a house.
posted by Eikonaut at 8:13 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]

I knew a guy who lived alone and when he moved into a new place he'd remove the bathroom doors, as he felt they got in his way. That's a whole 'nother level of weird, though.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:40 AM on March 16 [1 favorite]

A Tiki Room: split bamboo on the walls, carved tikis, fishing nets with glass floats, velvet paintings, Hawaiian grass skirts, lava lamps, colored lights, primitive masks, coconut wood carvings, beaded curtains, conch shells, wicker and bamboo furniture, aloha shirts, silk flower leis, little paper drinks parasols…
posted by TWinbrook8 at 8:43 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]

This is not that crazy, but my favorite house is one where the living room is a game room with a pool table and the dining room is lined with board games. There is seating, but the premise is that guests will primarily play rather than sit around and talk.
posted by redlines at 8:56 AM on March 16 [2 favorites]

- Transform the room with the best window light into a creative space i.e., a photography studio.
- Make your bedroom sound-proof with blackout window shades.
- Plant fast growing vines such as wisteria to cover the roof, driveway, and patio
posted by conrad53 at 12:00 PM on March 16 [2 favorites]

One of the highlights(!) of the 2010-2016 remodel was working on a no-utilities house for our college-age daughter. We did not have "order of occupancy" so we could not stay overnight.
One evening we put away the tools and supplies, turned off the battery-powered lights... and realized that the bathroom ceiling was covered in glow-in-the-dark paint!
In fact, we had noticed some high-gloss transparent stencils on the flat white painted ceilings throughout the house, but dismissed that as something added by bored coeds.
By this time we had replaced or repainted the other ceilings, so this was our final chance to admire the postmodern esthetic.

FYI I have used Glow Nation long-lasting glow paint. I can't find it online anymore, but there are other versions of liquid and powder medium online that glow for up to ten hours (green, aqua and blue). Red is the weak paint at less than 30 minutes.
TechnoGlow website looks very similar to what I have purchased, but I can't confirm this. LIT is another recommended brand.
Do not bother with products from hobby stores or box stores. The genuine article is a specialty liquid or powder and expensive.
posted by TrishaU at 5:08 PM on March 16 [3 favorites]

We installed a roof window right above our (attic room) bed and can star and weather gaze at will. If light pollution is not an issue I highly recommend it.

Are you especially tall or short? Counter heights designed to suit just you.

Doors which can only be opened after solving a puzzle.
posted by pipstar at 5:21 AM on March 17 [2 favorites]

paint chalkboard paint all over at least one wall and have a doodle wall.

Seconding this, if you or your friends have any artistic bent at all. For a while I lived in a house where one wall had the chalkboard paint treatment (I think a previous tenant was running a small daycare/school there?); when I moved in I bought a set of colored chalk and we ended up having a lot of fun with it!
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:14 AM on March 17 [1 favorite]

If you and your friends have or would like to develop artistic bents, look up the Bloomsbury Group houses and paint everything.

Or stencil everything, as in a previously.

Both have bad reputations because it’s hard to do only a little of them and have it look good, but they tip over into delight if you do a lot. IMO!
posted by clew at 11:56 AM on March 17 [3 favorites]

If you have Instagram, I recommend joshandmattdesign account - a couple in a Melbourne rental who do the funnest shit to their house. Their current project is making a conversation pit on one level with an array of bizarre things they find in thrift stores. Their garage is a riot of amazing things and they have such a sweet attitude towards making their posts and showing how they do things without being total influencer sucks.
posted by honey-barbara at 2:44 AM on March 19

I put up floor to ceiling, wall to wall black pinboards in my guest room. It started with a small collection of post cards, art etc that I have put up with small Velcro dots, when it started I wanted it to look not too lonely and odd, so I had everything pretty straight in one swathe around the room, but now the entire room is covered in ephemera - matchboxes, business cards, art, money, cards etc with a bed in the middle of the room.
Everyone loves staying that room and I love walking in there and being reminded of so many cool adventures and people from over forty years of collecting.
posted by honey-barbara at 3:31 AM on March 19 [1 favorite]

a superblack void room (for the screaming into)
posted by lalochezia at 7:50 AM on March 20

Mod note: It can't be considered weird that this post has been added to the sidebar and Best Of Blog!
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 5:51 AM on March 21 [4 favorites]

I've often thought of how cool it would be to build 'The Outside of the Asylum', Wonko the Sane's house from Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's basically a house built inside out, so as to contain the rest of the world in 'the asylum' and live outside it. Decorate the inside as if it was the outside of the house, with grass on the floor, gardens and outdoor furniture and, if it won't mire you in endless lawsuits from neighbours, decorate the outside as if it were the inside - paintings on the walls, a couch in the front yard etc.
posted by dg at 6:35 PM on March 24

Doors which can only be opened after solving a puzzle.

Don’t want to be a killjoy but any kind of “trick” door could be a problem in the event of a fire - for yourself or firefighters.
posted by brachiopod at 11:47 AM on March 30 [2 favorites]

« Older Help me sell a literal ton of turqouise.   |   Managed WordPress hosting for a small association Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments