This Bonkers ‘Whale House’ in California, Inspired by Antoni Gaudí’s Architectural Whimsy, Comes to the Surface for $3.3 Million

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Called the Whale House, a fanciful Southern California property shaped like the oblong sea mammal has just surfaced on the market. The cetacean creation is listed with Sotheby’s International Realty for $3.25 million.

The kitchen, with its unexpected contours and lack of straight lines. Photo: Scott Gibson. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

The kitchen, with its unexpected contours and lack of straight lines. Photo: Scott Gibson. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Built in 1978 after three years of construction, the playful residence—three bedrooms and three bathrooms, plus a guest house—is the handiwork of Michael Carmichael. The engineer and designer was inspired by Antoni Gaudí, the Spanish architect whose nature-based organic style helped launch Catalan Modernism in Barcelona. 

The third-floor bedroom of Whale House. Photo: Scott Gibson. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

The third-floor bedroom of Whale House. Photo: Scott Gibson. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

Much like Gaudí’s monuments to idiosyncrasy, Carmichael’s concept has no straight lines or flat walls, and it used no architectural renderings. But unlike Gaudí’s most famous structure, the Sagrada Família basilica in Barcelona (the most visited site in Spain), the Whale House is a completed project. It sits on half an acre of land with an exterior of undulating cedar shingles intended to blend into the surrounding woods. That’s right, the 2,600-square-foot residence isn’t actually near the ocean, though it’s only a splash away, nestled in the forests of Santa Barbara.

The back of Whale House opens onto a bamboo courtyard. Photo: Scott Gibson. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

The back of Whale House opens onto a bamboo courtyard. Photo: Scott Gibson. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

The front door of the residence is, of course, the whale’s mouth. Inside, features include a spiral staircase, a rock-covered elevator shaft, and rippling walls clad in white Venetian plaster. The unexpected details continue with 270 stained-glass windows—how very Gaudí. The ground floor houses the living room, dining room, and a chef’s kitchen where the range is carved into a curved stone wall. The spacious main bedroom can be found upstairs, with an additional bedroom on the third level.

The house's secret grotto, which extends to the guest house inside the house's tail. Photo: Scott Gibson. Courtesy of Sotheby's International Realty.

The house’s secret grotto, which extends to the guest house inside the house’s tail. Photo: Scott Gibson. Courtesy of Sotheby’s International Realty.

The belly of the Whale House, an interior courtyard, is ideal for entertaining with a 75-foot-long rock-lined lap pool, which extends through a tunnel and into a secret grotto, where—inside the tail—the guest house awaits. 

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