West Austin ‘Weird Home’ preserved, restored as short-term rental

The Bloomhouse—an 1,100-square-foot home in the hills of West Austin—was built in the 1970s by University of Texas architecture students for fellow student Dalton Bloom.
(Photos by Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Bloomhouse—an 1,100-square-foot home in the hills of West Austin—was built in the 1970s by University of Texas architecture students for fellow student Dalton Bloom. (Photos by Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Bloomhouse—an 1,100-square-foot home in the hills of West Austin—was built in the 1970s by University of Texas architecture students for fellow student Dalton Bloom. (Photos by Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)

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Dave Claunch, who owns Bloomhouse with his wife, Susan, served as the mayor of West Lake Hills from 2008-15.
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The winding staircase features cherry wood accents.
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The second-floor loft, which resembles a dragon's head, houses a day bed and oval windows.
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The walkway to the front door is flanked by conical nightlights.
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The bathroom vanity, with cherry wood accents, resembles a butterfly.
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The living room of Bloomhouse is pictured.
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The daybed in the loft overlooks a ravine.
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The bedroom has a curvy ceiling.
Bloomhouse owner Dave Claunch remembers when hippies roamed the hills and hollows of West Austin decades ago.

In 2010, Dave Claunch, then the mayor of West Lake Hills, was researching Earthhouse—one of two curvilinear homes built in West Austin by a group of University of Texas architecture students in the 1970s—that he planned to write for the city’s quarterly newsletter.

That is when he learned the location of the Bloomhouse, which was built in the same style.

Earthhouse was razed more than a decade ago, according to Claunch. Its former location, near the southeast corner of Bee Caves Road and Capital of Texas Hwy., is now occupied by a shopping center with an HEB and other retail.

Yet the Bloomhouse—built over several years in the 1970s for fellow UT student Dalton Bloom, who wanted a home immersed in nature—was still perched on a steep hillside near the headwater of a ravine.

“So fast-forward to 2017,” Claunch said, reclining in a kitchen booth in the Bloomhouse. “My wife and I are on the short-term rental market are trying to find something. I’m sitting at my desk in my office, and I get the Austin Business Journal, and there’s a glossy real estate insert for this place that just falls out.”

So Claunch and his wife, Susan, visted the Bloomhouse, which had changed ownership several times after the original owner and house’s namesake sold the dwelling in the 1990s.

“It was in terrible disrepair,” Claunch said. “There were a lot of people that were interested in it because they wanted to tear it down and build something here. I wanted to rescue it and save it and, and fix it up and turn [it] into a vacation rental.”

Claunch and his wife—who was skeptical about restoring the Bloomhouse—bought the property and began a nearly two-year renovation. If it became too challenging, Claunch told his wife, they could simply raze the house and either build a new home or sell the 2.5-acre parcel.

In 2019, the nearly two-year restoration was complete. Except for rails on the winding stairs—one reason why children under the age of 5 are not allowed to stay—the interior was restored to its original design. Claunch also added an outdoor shower.

The walk down the curving path to the Bloomhouse is a journey into the fantastic—exactly how Bloom wanted it. The white, ever-curving exterior gives off an otherworldly appearance, or as Claunch’s website puts it, resembling “a giant seashell unicorn.”

The Bloomhouse’s curvilinear form of architecture models itself after the natural world, where curves, not straight lines, dominate, according to Claunch.

“The only straight lines here are on the sliding glass doors,” Claunch said.

Since being completed in the late 1970s, the unique 1,100-square-foot, one-bedroom home has been featured in television, print and online. On Sept. 15, it was featured during the annual Weird Homes Tour which was held virtually.

Now a short-term rental, Claunch’s restored gem has been gaining popularity. To avoid sightseers from disturbing short-term renters, Claunch does not advertise the home’s address.

“It represents a time in Austin when artists’ whims prevailed over economic realities,” he said, smiling. “I didn’t want to be the [jerk] that tore it down. Instead, I was the idiot that remodeled it.”
By Brian Perdue
Brian Perdue is the editor of the Lake Travis-Westlake and Northwest Austin editions of Community Impact Newspaper. A native of Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, he has been a journalist since 1992, living and working in Virginia, Washington D.C., Hawaii's Big Island, Southern California and Florida before moving to Austin in 2019.


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