- 1.Unique Places to Call Home: A Big Yellow School Bus
- 2.Unique Places to Call Home: A Floating Hospital Off the Coast of Africa
- 3.Unique Places to Call Home: A Shipping Container on a Texas Farm
- 4.Unique Places to Call Home: A Solid Stone House
When I think of unique living spaces, fantastical ideas come to mind: a young man living in a giant peach, a Hobbit living in a hole, “the Boy Who Lived” sleeping in a cupboard under the stairs – now those are some unique living spaces!
While this story might not be as absurd and unbelievable as the ones above, it’s definitely unique, and we have the inside look at those who took the road less traveled to find their home, sweet home.
Beverly and Pablo Solomon live in a unique home in the Texas Hill Country, just northwest of Austin, Texas. Built in 1856 by famous Texas Ranger Moses Hughes, the historic home is two stories of solid stone almost 2 feet thick.
The Solomons took on the task of restoring the property. As they are both interior designers, they drew from personal knowledge gleaned from years of experience. Beverly is currently the creative director of her own company, Beverly Solomon Design.
The duo purchased the home in 1988, a time, Beverly revealed, when there were fewer big-box home improvement stores. Instead, the couple collected their tools and utilities from privately owned hardware stores and even salvaged some materials from junkyards.
Beverly mentioned that the hardest task was updating the plumbing installation. The house was built in the mid-1800s, with no electricity or plumbing and with the most recent update in the mid-1950s. Because of this, along with the solid rock structure, the installation alone was challenging. However, Beverly asserted that “it’s been fun despite the challenges. We plan on staying here for life.”
When asked why she made the choice to live in a unique, nontraditional home, Beverly explained, “For the ambiance and the fantastic location. Everyone who visits our property and home describes the setting as utopian, idealistic and an oasis.”
Around five years ago, the Solomons discovered a dying pecan tree on their property. Deciding to cut it down and dig it out, the two unearthed a stone foundation, hidden underneath the earth – the same stone as their home.
They dug deeper to reveal a sort of cellar or storage space, made of stone and fashioned almost like a cave. The two came to the conclusion that it was built by the Texas Ranger as a means for storage or as a storm shelter.
They decided to give this newfound treasure a new life, restoring the foundation and steps and turning it into a luxurious spa. They added a manmade waterfall that trickles from overhead, down to the stone base of the former shelter, comfortable seating, and an open-air ambiance that allows you to experience the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors.
Word to the Wise
The Solomons completed most of the renovation of the historic home on their own.
The good news is that Beverly’s husband, Pablo, had previous experience, having gleaned knowledge from his father, who performed home restoration on the side, and was “not afraid to get dirty” and fix the house DIY-style.
Beverly said this was a much better alternative than using hired help, as they’re usually paid by the hour and typically take an hour to learn the unique layout and construction of their house.
“Do not do everything at once,” she advised. “Get a feel for your home and property over a year or so in order to understand how best to use or deal with the various changes due to the seasons.”
As for decoration, Beverly also suggested deciding on how you want to use your space and, when possible, tying in the indoor décor with the outdoor, creating a harmonious flow.
“Do not be afraid to be eclectic,” she added. “Even though our home is over 160 years old, we have mixed period antiques with modern art.”
Finally, Beverly suggested making the home unique to your personality.
A Note of Caution
Just as there are pros to living in a unique home, there can also be a few cons that should be considered before moving in.
For example, Beverly discussed the challenges that come with a non-traditional home built of stone.
The Solomons’ house was constructed with stone quarried on the property and hand-hewed beams from the local trees. Additionally, each window and door opening is slightly different in size, meaning they had to purchase custom-made or modified windows and doors.
As the house is built on solid rock, with both exterior and interior stonewalls, installation of and repairs to plumbing and electricity can be a challenge. Heating and cooling can also become difficult as the thick stonewalls begin to heat or cool.
“Because our home is so well known in our area for its history,” she added, “having people just pop up unannounced wanting tours can get old.”
Hopefully this story gave you some inspiration for when you go to buy your first home. Whether you choose a traditional single-family home or a historic stone home, remember: “Home is where the heart is.”
Do you live in a unique home and want to share your personal story? Let us know in the comments below!
If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.