Founders Chelle and David J. Neff were inspired to create the tour in 2014 after spotting a house that looked like the Alamo on a walk through the Crestview area in Austin. “We thought, who lives there? Why did they build or buy that house? What’s the connection to Texas? She and I had always been a fan of outsider artists and unique architecture and design,” David J. Neff tells Lonely Planet. “This startup combines all of those things.” Besides Austin, the tours are offered in Houston and New Orleans, and 10% of the profits made go to affordable housing nonprofits in the respective cities.
The tour highlights the homes of artists and collectors of oddities and art, some decorated with bold murals, sprawling collages, and in at least one case, a display of doll heads and birdcages. One home this year was used to film the TV show Friday Night Lights, but instead of housing Tim Riggins’ football gear, the space has a new life as a “cabinet of curiosities” with a vintage surgical table from WWI, lamps made from X-rays, and a police car hood with a working siren that blares when guests enter the house. In order to choose the places featured on the tour, the Neffs consider both the homes and home owners. Do they have a unique but brilliant eye for design, and would the folks in Austin, Houston and New Orleans want to meet and talk to these folks, and learn from them? If yes, the home gets a spot on the popular tour.
While the Neffs are drawn to each one of the homes, a few of the most memorable over the years include Austin’s Casa Neverlandia, built by owner James Talbot, with its colorful facade and hidden nooks and passageways, and the Wehnert home, a Victorian farmhouse that dates back to 1897. “It’s really an amazing collection of collections.” he says. “Art from all over the world that spills out into a gorgeous backyard.”
This year’s Austin Weird Homes Tour features ten homes and is set for 22 April, with tickets starting at $30/£24.
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