5 Unique Home Design Elements of the Tennessee Spaceship House

September 20, 2022

When you design and build a custom home, you get the chance to choose every detail of your new home. Although you may need to work within building codes and local regulations, you can still get creative. There are certainly some custom builds out there that take creativity to the max. The Tennessee Spaceship House is one of them. Here’s what you need to know and some unique home design elements of the Tennessee Spaceship House:

What is the Tennessee Spaceship House?

The Tennessee Spaceship House, also called the Spaceship House of Tennessee, Space House, or Flying Saucer House is a custom build located in Signal Mountain, Tennessee. It is not the only saucer-shaped house in the United States or the first, but it is certainly a famous landmark that draws a lot of attention.

In 1973, a building contractor named Curtis W. King spent a quarter-million dollars to build the Space House. It was meant to be a bachelor pad of sorts for his sons and also an example of future-oriented homes; a “home of the 21st century”. King, his three sons, and his son-in-law did most of the work.

With a small crew and seemingly constant interruptions from passersby, construction of the Space House took three years. Once finished, the home was a steel frame covered in concrete and sheathed in fiberglass. It was 52 feet in diameter, had 1,960 square feet (some sources round this up to 2,000), and featured three bedrooms and two full baths along with plenty of unique home design elements.

After passing through a few owners over the years, the Space House was sold at auction in 2009. James Faris, a local developer, bought it for $119,000 with the goal of refurbishing it and using it as a rental property. During remodeling, he added some unique design elements, like new floors made from recycled tires, but most of the interior was gutted and 1970s decor replaced. It’s possible he also added a bathroom as many listings now show the home to have three bathrooms instead of two.

The Spaceship House was available to rent for several years; it is unclear whether it is currently available to rent. Although the Space House is still a popular roadside attraction, it is privately owned and not open for tours. It’s also located along a hairpin turn, which makes it a dangerous place to stop.

5 Unique Home Design Elements of the Tennessee Spaceship House

Outside of the saucer-shaped exterior, the most unique home design elements of the Tennessee Spaceship House were built during the original construction. Some of them were removed by later owners and remodels, but they are still worth mentioning. Here are some of the most unique home design elements of the Space House of Signal Mountain, Tennessee:

1. Spaceship-Style Staircase

The Space House is elevated and supported by six columnar legs. These were constructed to be able to support 175 tons each, which is helpful for supporting the 55-60-ton saucer-shaped house. All plumbing and electrical lines are also run through these legs. King decided to elevate the bottom of the residence at least six feet above the ground to allow for cars to park underneath.

This makes a staircase necessary for reaching the single entrance to the Space House. This staircase was designed to look like the airstairs of a jet and was originally electrically retractable. They are no longer retractable and sit permanently in the down position; at least for now. Retractable staircases may not be necessary for your custom home, but you can get creative with stair railing design ideas to make your home’s staircase stand out.

2. Square Amber Windows

To complete the flying saucer look classic to science fiction at the time, windows were custom manufactured for the Spaceship House. Square windows made of amber-colored acrylic panels were placed at one-foot intervals in a ring completely around the structure to give the appearance of an active flying saucer.

Over the years, many of these windows have been blocked. Although there are still some windows, they are no longer in a consistent ring all the way around the structure.

3. Built-in Home Bar

In the original home design, there was a built-in home bar at the top of the entrance stairs. This vestibule featured a bar with mirrored walls. The flooring was a red and black shag carpet. Home bars are still popular design features and interesting details, like a mirrored wall, and the right lighting are some home bar design ideas that can help you create a functional space that also looks good.

4. Concrete Bathtub

Another one of the unique home design elements that could also be considered ahead of its time was the “Roman” bathtub made of concrete and covered in a veneer of handmade Japanese tiles.

This was constructed in the master bath and has survived multiple overhauls and remodels. In modern home design, a bathtub is just one of the ways to incorporate concrete into your custom home design. Now, concrete is an option for walls, floors, and more.

5. Home Security

With the constant interruptions during construction and the attention this house attracted, it was necessary to consider some sort of home security. Although home security systems may not necessarily be a unique home design element now, it was relatively rare for residential applications during the time of construction.

King included a closed-circuit television in the kitchen to allow residents to monitor approaching visitors. Not only was this helpful for home security, but it was also in line with King’s futuristic design goals for the home.

These are just some of the unique home design elements of the Tennessee Spaceship House. Although they may not be the best fit for your custom home, they can certainly get you thinking creatively about design and decor and could inspire you. If you’re ready to get started on your own custom home, contact Custom Home Group at 717-284-4090!