Are you ready for the real estate equivalent that’s the opposite of Coco Chanel’s famous fashion advice — “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off”? This 29,500 square foot mansion in Indiana is a cautionary tale of mixing styles gone overboard. It seems as though no designer or contractor ever removed or renovated a thing in the home’s 60-plus year history, simply adding and adding and adding… and adding.
Though a 29,500 square foot mansion is just a fantasy for many, this 11-bedroom, 8-bathroom compound in Indianapolis is a shining example of when actual fantasy aesthetics can get a house into trouble. It’s like Jim Henson’s idea of an 1980s avant garde Fallingwater, but set on Dragonstone. Or if the Observatory in Frank Oz’s Dark Crystal met Tom Selleck’s quirky penthouse in Three Men and a Baby.
We had to tour the head-scratching $1.79 million estate for ourselves after the Onion A/V Club pretty much skewered it earlier this week, calling the Indianapolis home an “architecturally baffling…[and] truly bizarre monstrosity” through a point-by-point Twitter takedown by professor and writer Gabriel Rosenberg.
And in trying to reverse engineer the design decisions for ourselves, we came up with a partial list of potential fantasy, science fiction, and steampunk inspirations from television and film — appearing in the pop culture consciousness in the years since the home at 4923 Kessler Boulevard East Drive was first built in 1953 — that may have steered its owners wrong, aesthetically speaking.
(Image credit: Twentieth Century FOX)
1. Planet of the Apes (1958)
(Image credit: Disney Pictures/Walden Media)
2. The Chronicles of Narnia (1988/2005)
Without a fan of C.S. Lewis residing inside, that carved wooden front door complete with stately lion just looks out of place. The Witch and the Wardrobe must be in the interior rooms.
(Image credit: Interscope/Touchstone Pictures)
3. Three Men and a Baby (1987)
All that pastel and glass block cube in the entryway is evocative of the penthouse entrance to Tom Selleck’s apartment, which can only be described as an early-80s avant garde fantasy in its own right. Hopefully, this pad isn’t haunted.
(Image credit: Henson Associates/Universal)
4. The Dark Crystal (1982)
The introduction of copper and soaring ceilings to all that glass could only have been inspired by Aughra’s Observatory and gelfling Jen’s crystal hero journey, or a lifelong love affair with the Frank Oz/Jim Henson years of collaboration.
5. Game of Thrones (2011-Now)
The fireplace sitting room would be right at home on Dragonstone, perhaps just off camera and adjacent to the throne, with all that dark yet iridescent slate and those severe angles — and the stone fireplace in the bedroom could easily be swapped out for a map of Westeros, while several of the brick-columned additional bedrooms feel like Winterfell in summer. Although you could actually have some fun with that Wildling cave-style jacuzzi tub…
6. James Bond: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
One of the ways the home actually gets it right is in channeling mid-century James Bond films with fantastical locations, like taking cues from the famous Elrod House by John Lautner, who was an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright.
(Image credit: Warner Bros)
7. The Neverending Story (1984)
The whitewashed stone interior elements seem to be giving a serious nod to the Ivory Towers, and are still standing even after several seemingly more recent additions to the home.
(Image credit: United Artists/Eon)
8. James Bond: Dr. No (1962)
The “Crab Key” lair of Bond’s titular nemesis —the real-life Jamaica home of reclusive Bond fan Minnie Simpson — could certainly have played a part in the stylistic choices for some more of that stonework, and the fountain out front.
(Image credit: New Line Cinema/MGM)
9. The Hobbit (2012)
The round windows make things feel so light and cozy and cuddly it’s making us long for the Shire. Maybe Peter Jackson is looking for a pied-a-terre or scouting locations in the Midwest.
(Image credit: NBC Universal)
10. Battlestar Galactica (1978/79, 2004-2009)
You just know Gaius Baltar would’ve been all over this house, or at least the sections of it with wood-trimmed walls of windows and modern cabled railings.
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)
11. Supergirl (2016)
The Kryptonian bedroom of a young Kara Zor-El certainly feels like a possible Pinspiration for some of the more private living spaces, and anything Superman might make all the 1980s black and brown marble and trim actually make sense.
(Image credit: Stanley Kubrick Productions/MGM)
12. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
There’s no other explanation for the sudden switch to neo-classicism in the kitchens and outdoor spaces, specifically around the pool, than the hotel monolith scene in Stanley Kubrick’s Sci-Fi opus.
Did we miss any? Share your thoughts on this place in the comments.