Trading our Home for a Dome

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Last week a local blog posted a real estate listing for an unusual dome house not far from where we live. There’s a few of these 70s-80s relics in the LA area. This one is worth about as much as our house. I pondered, for about ten minutes, the thought of trading out our stodgy 1920s bungalow for a geodesic fantasy.

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Geodesic domes are an example of Plato’s realm of ideal forms attempting to materialize in our messy world. While conceptually appealing, they have serious drawbacks when translated from paper to “meat space.” They have awkward corners, weird acoustics, are wasteful of materials (most building materials come in 4 x 8 foot increments in the US) and leak like crazy. Lloyd Kahn, who wrote a bestselling how-to book on building domes in the 1960s, became so disenchanted with them that he pulled his own bestselling book from print.

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That said, they have an otherworldly and transcendent vibe that, in the case of the pictures that accompany the real estate listing, seem to have inspired the seller to paint some trippy outsider art.

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The kitchen, on the other hand, looks like a ten minute visit to the Ikea as-is bin. Maybe this is a spare kitchen?

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The seller seems to have also gone bold with the colors. I think I would too if I lived in a dome.

Perhaps the best use for domes is for ceremonial or public spaces. There’s a really nice one that serves as a greenhouse at the Ecology Center in San Juan Capistrano.

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The triangular window in the dome house listing is magical. It’s just needs a photo of LA’s famous hippie guru and restaurant entrepreneur, Father Yod, above the sliding door:

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The bedroom looks like another penny pinching day at Ikea. I think it needs a circular bed:

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This is the photo that convinced me to keep our stodgy 1920s house. I really don’t like sliding doors. They kill birds and clumsy people and have no architectural interest. They’re just a hole punched in a wall, like a USB jack on the back of a computer.

If, on the other hand, we were shopping for a house I’d seriously consider this crazy dome. You only live once. Why not have some fun?

Should you want to put a bid on this geodesic gem, check out the listing here. If you’ve got another 100K to burn there’s another, more upscale, geodesic dome house for sale. If you buy either of them you have to invite us over for the hot tub party/house warming.

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19 Comments

    • Bob–I love your house–beautiful garden. And–interesting experience as in good?

    • I would love for you to write a guest post detailing the good and bad of living in a dome…

    • Mostly good, yes – I do love the big, open living area and the yard, gardens & ponds have been wonderful! On the negative side, we’ve done a lot of remodeling projects and have found these do tend to take more time / material than a comparable project in a conventional home.

    • I will definitely consider writing a post – if and when I get some spare time! Thanks for the suggestion.

  1. Don’t geodesic domes made from traditional construction materials like wood have a lot of leaking problems at the seams? I know Fuller’s original plans called for precision milled aluminum from airplane factories. He wanted to mass produce them.

  2. I was just talking about these houses this morning. I have a friend who has one and I really don’t like the style.Too open for me,I don’t even like the open concept kitchens.They are harder to heat and keep warm…of course I live in a cold winter climate and I like toasty little rooms that keep me nice and warm

    • Hey Kurt–that dome is amazing. You had a bad link in there so I took a guess as to what photo you were referencing.

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