Like many people obsessed with other people’s homes, Austinites Chelle and David J. Neff not so long ago found that their interests were particularly piqued by some of the city’s odder habitats. About five years ago, the two decided that other people were probably already interested in looking inside some of the eccentrically, artistically, and unusually designed and decorated homes they wondered about and in meeting the people who live there.
That is the origin story of the Austin Weird Homes Tour, which for almost five years has been offering a peek inside some of the city’s most unique homes and a chance to meet the residents who created them via a self-guided driving tour to some of its most offbeat places.
In addition to wanting to satisfy their intense curiosity, the couple wanted “to show that design really has no boundaries,” according to press materials, “And that we would rather neighbors be strange than be strangers.”
The longtime Austinites (he is an author and digital strategy consultant and she owns and operates Urban Betty Salon) kicked off their first tour in Austin and, after it proved successful, expanded to produce tours in Houston and New Orleans as well.
Now the two have brought the project back around its roots with a just-published book that showcases the unique Austin homes on the tour and the people who opened their doors so we could see what’s inside—and find out more about them. It’s called Weird Homes: The People and Places That Keep Austin Strangely Wonderful, and it hit the streets a couple of days ago (there will also be a Book People signing on Feb. 25).
Thanin Viriyaki’s photographs of the homes are beautiful and fascinating, as are his portraits of some of the makers. Together, they’re likely to inspire the creation of more gorgeously oddball living environments—or at least get more people out for the tour coming up in April.