There’s a sleeping giant in the trees of Santa Barbara, California. Some call it “the Whale House”; others the “the Snail House” thanks to its hypnotic curves, which camouflage so well into the trees that they’re easily missed. The mansion is like a portal into a 1970s SoCal fairytale for locals, and the occasional tourist, of the quiet seaside town. Oh, and did we mention you can rent it? But more on that later. First, let’s poke around a bit…
The house was dreamt up by architect Michael Carmichael and completed in 1978. His goal was to build a 2,600 square foot house that would blend into its natural surroundings with whimsy. “[It’s] easily one of the most unusual [building] anywhere,” wrote the LA Times in 1994, “a work of art that took Carmichael and a crew of 20 workers three years to build.”
It can sleep 9, has 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths. Oh, and a sleek swimming pool that doubles as an entrance inside. It’s covered in so many shingles and stones, that it looks like it was sprang up from the earth itself.
“There are no straight lines, no flat walls and a highly unconventional floor plan,” explained local real estate agents from Hamilton Co., “The result is one of the most inspiring residential artistic creations on the west coast.”
It might just be California’s most wonderful (and weird) Art Nouveau masterpiece. Like Guadi, but if Guadi were a tie-die clad Grateful Dead fan. In fact, He was heavily “inspired by Antoni Gaudi,” explained Hailton, “whose nature-based organic style started the famous Catalan Modernista movement in Barcelona.
“Much like Gaudi, the only way Carmichael’s initial concept could materialize was to free-form nearly every aspect of the home with it’s natural surroundings.” That’s a euphemism for saying that the floor-plan is stunning, but not always functional. The kitchen’s counters curves beautifully, but into a smaller and smaller workspace; the bedrooms have poles jutting out beside the bed.
But there’s something so charming about peering out of portholes and into the oak forest’s treetops…
The house has often been the hot potato of Santa Barbara’s real estate market (and usually at an asking price of over $1 million), but thanks to the home exchange/Air BnB revolution of the past five years, it’s been able to slip comfortably into its role as a dreamy rental property.
Yes, the Whale House is a place that throws practicality and logic to the wayside. But isn’t that the case with the best of romances? It’s charm is irresistible, and personally we’re ready for a little fairytale fling this Summer — unless you beat us to it, of course. You can learn more about renting the home here.