This not actually my house, it's just a reasonable facsimile.
My landlord is theoretically a contractor, and has experience building and remodeling homes throughout Northern California. He also has a really bad eye for design, an attraction for whimsical fuckery or quite possibly a drug problem his family hasn’t discovered yet. The house I live in is floor to ceiling with half-finished, half-baked and completely nonsensical building projects. The landlord reassured us that these would all be corrected by the time we moved in. That was about two years ago. In the mean time I’ve had the joy of living with live wires coming out of the floor, an unsanded/unfinished banister filling my hands with splinters every time I use it, bloodstains on the cabinetry from where the handyman almost cut his finger off, improperly sealed windows that leak enough water to puddle on the floor whenever it rains and a toxic waste heap conveniently located where the driveway should have been.
Then there are the finished projects, like this:
Window in the wall of my bathroom. I'm sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.
This is the window in my bathroom. Let me say this again. This is a window. In my bathroom. In the bathroom. A window. Not a window to the outside, which would make perfect sense considering the typical activities taking place in the bathroom. It is a window that offers you a shit with a view of the hallway.
Now, the glass is frosted, but since the window offers a prime view of the toilet, there’s no guessing what everyone is up to when you’re passing by. My landlord decided the best way to spare the innocent bystanders from seeing the blurry sideshow that is your hairy ass was to add a blind to the window.
Look! I can adjust the shade without ever leaving the comfort of my padded toilet seat.
I asked why there was a need to put a window in the wall of the bathroom. His response was, “I felt the room needed a little more light, and the window was the perfect solution.”
As opposed to, say, putting in a fucking ceiling light or vanity light or something else that might make a bit of sense.
I can’t complain. (Well, yes, I can. I do quite frequently.) I say I can’t complain, because apparently my landlord is not the only contractor who is architecturally challenged. Every day I come home, I’m supremely grateful my house doesn’t look like this:
Hello, Kitty. Goodbye sanity.
Or possibly this:
Flying saucer house. Hey, if the house can fly, why do these people need a car?
Now, you can indulge in some types of whimsy and achieve an overall pleasant effect. Take a look at Montclair, Oakland’s fire house:
Actual functioning firehouse in Montclair District, Oakland, California.
The gingerbread men who come to fight the fires in Oakland are particularly delicious when lightly toasted. They have a high job turnover rate; the heat from a fire tends to melt the icing and gumdrops.
There’s also a little-known architect wannabe named “Mad Ludwig” who had a few drinks, got a bug up his ass and decided to build a house that absolutely pissed off the neighbors at the time. Seriously, the locals greeted this grubby little hovel with the same amount of joy and enthusiasm as they would a 1967 airstream trailer with black smoke eeking out of the exhaust system and a leaky porta potty.
Schloss Neuschwanstein, Bavaria, Germany. It's just as gorgeous inside.
Look familiar? It should, it is the inspiration for the castle appearing on the Disney logo and Sleeping Beauty’s Castle in Disneyland. Trust me, though, when Ludwig II built this, the neighbors wanted to throw him off that cliff. All’s well that ends well.
Unfortunately, more often than not a design that starts off as someone’s “vision” (usually through the bottom of a double scotch) goes terribly, horribly wrong. Take this futuristic vision of what life will be like when we are all pod people:
San Zhi ghost town resort, repelling construction workers and visitors since 1982.
Looks pretty cool, huh? Other than the fact that it’s completely abandoned and a scene of semi-urban decay. This is the exclusive San Zhi Resort in Taiwan, so modern and exclusive in fact that the locals won’t even go near it. It began in the 1980’s as an attempt to create a high-scale retreat from city life in Taipei. Things went really, really, REALLY wrong, and after a number of fatal accidents during construction, they just gave up and left. Nobody ever talks about what happened there, but I’ve seen Ringu, and I have my theories. I wonder if my landlord ever considered walking away from this house. Oh wait, I think he already did.
Then there’s this:
That's okay, well just move the door to the garage to the attic.
I don’t know what the hell happened here. Apparently somebody must have put all the furniture and a small freight car in one of the upper floor bedrooms against the advice of the builder. On the bright side, this is the ideal house to “flip.” Ha, ha, ha, ha, heh….okay that was lame.
Then there is the granddaddy of all WTF architecture, the Winchester Mansion in San Jose, California. Sarah Winchester designed this house while in a trance during a séance, and it shows. There are stairways to nowhere, windows in the floor, doors that open into walls, Rooms with several entrances but only one exit, and every detail features the number 13. There are about 160 rooms, including 40 bedrooms and two ballrooms, one completed and one under construction. The house also has 47 fireplaces, 10,000 window panes, 17 chimneys (with evidence of two others), two basements and three elevators. (Thank you, San Jose Chamber of Commerce, I’ll take it from here.) I’ve been there, it’s goddamn impressive, but you can tell that Sarah was just a smidge off her mental game near the end.
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose, California.
Stairway to nowhere, Winchester Mansion.
"Door to Nowhere" at Winchester House. This door in Sarah Winchester's office leads to a 120 ft. drop to the garden below. Looks like we may have found Mr. Burns' (The Simpsons) long, lost ancestor.
I need a place to let in more natural light...oh, wait, let's put a glass doorway in the floor! Perfect.
Of course, once your dream shack has been built, there’s always the problem with burglars, thugs and sucky neighbors. It’s important to have the newest, most state-of-the-art security system. I have just the thing for you:
Who needs ADT anyway?
Ahhh, home crap home. How sweet it is.