Thursday, January 18, 2007

Touring the Dome Home

I love love love my parent's dome home in Minnesta! The geodesic dome home was originally designed by Buckminster Fuller and is rather ubiquitous with the 50's and 60's hippiedom. This particular dome home resides a few miles outside of Northfield, Minnesota, in the middle of corn and bean fields. It's tucked into a little horseshoe-shaped hollow of land left by the last glacier, and the sandy, rocky soil on this postage-stamp of land made it less ideal for farming than the surrounding land. My parents bought the house from the original owner in 2001 and quickly got to work ripping out the fine and impressive aqua, orange, and brown patterned carpet in the kitchen and punching more windows into the walls. It was a diamond in the rough, to say the least. There was an article about the resurgence of dome homes in the NY Times recently; if you'd like to read the article, click HERE.

Unfortunately, moving into this house happened just as I left for college, so I've never actually 'lived' here. Even so, it feels more like my home than about anywhere else I've lived in my life, and going home to it always feels like getting away to a special haven. My parents have done such an incredible job on the inside--the entire space is cozy and warm and inviting. They found a really nice balance between beautifully designed spaces (like the banister going up to the second floor) and technical utility (like the organization of cabinets and the island in the kitchen).

Many of you have expressed varying degrees
of wonder, mystification, and suspicion when I mention that my parents live in a dome home, so I thought I'd share some Dome Home Pix that I took on my last trip home (click on any of the photos to see them full-sized):
These are some outdoor shots I took after the one big snowstorm we had while I was home. It snowed for almost twenty-four hours and I woke up the next morning to see all the trees rimmed with snow and the bluest sky you could imagine. It was like a fairy land. The top picture shows the driveway in the foreground. The hill in the background is in the west, and in the summer we like to climb up this hill to watch the sunset (if you can stand the mosquitoes or bring enough industrial strength insect repellent, that is). The second picture is toward the 'front yard' and runs up against the dirt road that goes to my parent's house. Most of the property is forested, but my parents are gradually restoring this front space to natural prairie.And these are some indoor shots looking outdoors at the rapidly melting snow. The first is of the big rose window at the front of the house. It looks out over the front yard area. The second picture is looking out the kitchen windows at the back yard. My parents built a gazebo and wrap-around deck there a few summers ago--you can see those most clearly in the first image at the beginning of the post.
And here's the kitchen itself. When we first moved in, this was a little closet of a room. There was just one window, I think, and it was entirely enclosed with only a little doorway leading to the dining room where the stove is now. The original owners had hung dark wood cabinets and laid down that infamous aqua, orange, and brown carpet. My parents pretty much ripped everything out, pushed the walls back, redid the lighting, and turned the space into somewhere you actually want to spend time. On the other side of the wall to the right of the picture is a little dining area sandwiched between the kitchen and the fireplace.
This is the living room and is almost a mirror opposite of the kitchen.
Here is the main room of the dome. If you picture the dome like a pie, the kitchen and living room are each a quarter of the pie and this area is the other half. It is open all the way up to the roof and is lined with pine wood. Aerial shots are below!
My cutie-pie mother modeling in front of the new staircase. My mombo is an artist and worked with the carpenters to make the design. You can't see it in these pictures, but between some of the slats in the railing are empty squares; for Christmas, my mom hung ornaments in the squares--so cool. That beam in the center is a support beam at the center of the house, by the way.

To orient you, 'behind' me is the main open living space. To the right is the dining room and you can just see the kitchen beyond that. Using our x-ray vision to see through the wall behind Mom, there's the ground floor bathroom and the living room. On the second floor, to the right is my parent's bedroom. To the left is one bedroom with stairs leading to the cupola. Directly ahead is both the second floor bathroom and a second bedroom.
An aerial shot of the big living area from the second floor landing.
This is inside my parents room. Again, thinking of the house as a pie, the open living area still takes up half. My parents' room is another quarter (above the kitchen), and the two bedrooms are each a fourth of the last quarter. Roughly. The bathrooms for both the ground floor and this second floor are right in the center of the pie.

Originally, all these bedrooms just had boring, ugly particle board. I think they were supposed to be lined with pine like the main living area, but the owner ran out of money or wood or energy. The particle board has always been kind of an eyesore, so this summer, my mom painted over the particle board and the trim between the triangles with different contrasting colors. In my parent's room, the colors are white, red, and coral.

In this photo, behind me is the bed and the door leading out to the landing and the closet space is to the left. Right ahead, the bookshelf divides the room a bit; behind the bookshelf is more shelf space for clothes and my parent's bathroom. See that painted fireplace screen in the mid-ground directly below the windows? Yup, that's a 'privacy screen' for the cat's litter box. Goodness me.
My mom might kill me for including this picture, but I had to! This is the bathroom in my parent's room and I just love the way they put in the cabinet space! Look how perfectly fitted into every nook and cranny all the cabinets are! Amazing! The attention to detail! Astounding!This is the bedroom directly ahead of you if you're looking at the picture of the staircase above. My dad works half of the week in Iowa and half from home, so this room doubles as his office when vacationing daughters aren't loafing about sleeping until noon. I love how you can see the slope of the roof in this shot. One of my favorite things is falling asleep in one of these bedrooms during a rainstorm. It's so cozy and snug, kind of like sleeping in a tent. The colors in this room are three different shades of green. The bed is directly behind me and the doorway to the hall is to the right.And now my favorite room in the house--the hobbit hole. This room is just big enough for a twin-size bed and a bookshelf. Actually, this bookshelf was my first Big Girl bookshelf that I got when I was about five years old. You can barely see it in the shot, but to the left of the picture is a tiny little built in desk. I spent many happy hours at this desk organizing and re-organizing my office. Behind me in this picture, there was originally a wall-length closet. But that got torn out to make room for...
...The staircase up to the cupola! Oh, man, if I lived in this house, you'd never get me away from here. Prior to this, the cupola was more of an attic that could only be accessed by one of those pull-down ladders set into the ceiling. Building an actual staircase up there was something we dreamed about, but I never actually thought it would happen. Oh, and see that funny-face picture on the wall? Yup, that's a picture of Ernie and the Tweedle Bugs from Sesame Street that I drew oh so many years ago.
Here are the stairs.
And here's the little cupola! I'm 5'2, and I can barely stand up in here. It's literally the crown of the dome, and there are little eye-level windows set along the top. The bed and bookshelves are built in. The rug is a Kaffe Fasset design and goes perfectly with all the little design elements my mom has decorated the space with--red vases with paper flowers, painted barrels filled with warm blankets, little tin ornaments. Almost every night during my vacation, my mom and I brought tea and toast up here after everyone else had gone to sleep and read until we couldn't keep our eyes open anymore.
And the crowning picture--this is the aerial view of the main room as seen from the cupola at the top of the house. I've suggested installing a slide from the cupola down to the main floor, but I think my parent's thought I was joking. Seriously. A slide. It would totally tie everything together. Think about it.

Oh, it's so hard to leave Minnesota! I love this house, and I also love spending time with my family. Mom and I almost completed several sewing projects (some last-minute snafus got us off schedule), we watched lots of reruns while knitting (the Engineer's sweater is so almost done, it's killing me), Dad and I baked bread,
we ate good food, we all lounged in front of the fireplace and put together puzzles. *sigh* All in all, a most excellent vacation.


Scooter said...

Sweet pictures! Almost as good as being there myself. Do the cats not pose for pictures?

Russell said...

I am also interested in living in such a dome.

Darci said...

I love the ode to your parent's dome. It was very worthy of a blog. Oh, how I love the dome home. It was great meeting you over New Years. I'm sure I'll be seeing you again. Tell the Engineer hello from me. ;)

Angelina said...

Philip has always wanted to live in a dome home and I always said "NO WAY" but now I might be changing my mind.

That was a great post!

Emma C said...

Dome homes are definitely becoming cooler as aging hippies shed their love of aqua-brown parings and embrace their retirement funds. ;) A dome home done right is a beautiful thing. A dome home done wrong is like an oversized yurt. I really wish I had before and after pictures to show you. *shudder*

Dominique said...

I have wanted to this this house for years! So Awesome, Awe-some!

I love aqua and brown (chocolate) together! What gives!