Living in a mushroom house

Living in a mushroom house

Recently in Bethesda near Washington, D C a house went on sale for $ 1.2 million. There is nothing special about that price, but there is something special about the house; it’s a mushroom house!

The owners of the house are Edward and Frances Garfinkle and they have lived there for 47 years. Originally, it was an ordinary house like its neighbours. The Garfinkles responded to the needs of their growing family and decided to expand. They wanted something unique – something absolutely one-of-a-kind.

So, they doubled the size of their home and covered it in free-flowing, polyurethane foam. The process, the Garfinklesexplained, was much like an artist forming a sculpture out of clay. Each day, they’d stand back and tell the builders to bring it in here or stretch it a little more there. 

The two-storey structure ended up bearing a striking resemblance to a group of mushrooms sprouting up from the ground in Bethesda, Maryland. The Garfinkles never intended for it to look like a mushroom but over time, the name stuck.

Bethesda’s Mushroom House has always been the talk of the town. The building material is used widely for insulation and roofs because of its flexibility and thermal quality. The Garfinkles call the house their “giant thermos bottle” because even with a 30-foot (about 9 metres) high ceiling, the house stays well insulated.

The unconventional shape also allows for creativity with how the interior space is used. Measuring 3,700 square feet, the inside is open yet filled with nooks and crannies. There’s a vast great room but also a lounging cave with a fireplace and a cosy cut-out in one of the bedroom walls.

The polyurethane foam technique was seen as innovative – more eco-friendly, more energy-efficient and supposedly less expensive than traditional building materials.

In retrospect the Garfinkles say, “We were kind of misled into thinking it was an inexpensive way to build. It didn’t turn out that way. We did this when we were young. Looking back on it, it was probably kind of dumb.”Now that their kids are grown up the Garfinkles decided to sell the Mushroom House .

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