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NARRATOR: There are extreme homes all over the world,
and we're taking you inside some of them
for a personal tour.
The word "extreme" means different things
to different people,
but to these homeowners,
it means dreaming, daring, and innovating.
From construction to completion,
we're taking a close look at these spectacular homes
to find out just what makes each of them so extreme.
This home is made from smashed beer bottles,
and this one is a tower block in the woods.
We'll show you a home that lives the life of a circus
and another that blows glass bubbles.
From their shapes to their sizes and their locations,
we're checking out some of the coolest residences around.
-- Captions by VITAC --
Closed Captions provided by Scripps Networks, LLC.
Our first home is in Florida,
and what you see is not what you get.
It looks like a small village on the outside,
but it's really just one residence on Hutchinson Island.
This place keeps fooling you,
with chimneys that are really made of glass,
a pool that looks like it's in the sea,
and other details that aren't what they seem.
The home's magician/architect is Simon Jacobsen.
He made the house for a sculptor
who wanted a design that played tricks on you.
All these small houses with gable roofs
are actually different rooms connected by a corridor.
JACOBSEN: This house is unique
because it's a collection of these pavilions
that have been gathered together,
and you have a sense of that,
this is not a hodgepodge of buildings gathered,
but, actually, a very contrived set of buildings
that have been put together.
NARRATOR: And that's just the start
of the tricks this house likes to play.
Glass skylights that look like chimneys
sit along the traditional gabled roof line.
You might think, with all the peaked roofs,
that there are rooms under the eaves
and lots of attic space.
You'd be wrong.
Inside, most of the gables are open to the peak,
making for high ceilings and a feeling of space.
The only rooms in the top of the house
are a bookshelf-lined corridor and an office.
But not every home office
has such a beautiful and distracting view,
and it's right on the water.
But that could be a problem.
The Florida hurricane season, from June to November,
is famous for raising the roof
and everything else all over the coast.
This place has 3,000 square feet of vertical glass
just asking for trouble... or is it?
This is just another illusion.
These windows are tougher than they look.
JACOBSEN: We were asked to build a glass building in Florida
in Hurricane Alley.
They're immensely heavy.
They're rated for 150-mile-an-hour impact
NARRATOR: The entrance lies through a grove of palm trees.
You walk into a bright hallway
that looks like a sculpture gallery...
because it is.
The owner is sculptor Don Wilks,
and these are some of his works.
Off to one side are four bedrooms with private bathrooms.
The views are no illusion.
This is the idyllic seascape you wake up to.
On the other side of the hallway is a sleek, white kitchen...
living room... and dining for eight.
JACOBSEN: The design process isn't so much about
the exterior of the building as it is the interior,
such as this dining room table for example.
It's our design.
We design light fixtures, as well.
NARRATOR: As if the house and its interior wasn't enough,
the architect added a gazebo at the end of a glass corridor.
The light, the sea, and sky -- It's all pretty dreamy.
Just be careful not to walk into the windows.
The separation between inside and out
creates another illusion.
The glass runs to the floor,
and the tiles inside continue to the outside,
so you might think the space is all open.
But the coolest illusion may be outside.
From the right angle,
this pool looks like it connects with the bay,
but it's just a very convincing infinity pool.
JACOBSEN: What we achieved with the two types of water
that we have here --
Because one is an ocean, and one is a guarded pool.
And so, at times, you can have one that's almost violent,
and the other is placid,
and the dichotomy of the two is fascinating to see.
NARRATOR: It's not the only dichotomy in the design of the building.
At a glance, it may seem like modern architecture
with its shiny, bright exterior,
but the building itself contains echoes of Florida's past,
going back to the 19th and early 20th century.
JACOBSEN: The building refers back to Florida's history
by its materials and its pure shape.
The shape is a simple pavilion-style, 45-degree roofs,
stucco, standing-seam roof.
This is the true essence of American Florida architecture,
not so much the palatial red terra cotta roofs that we see.
From an American standpoint, this is what we started with.
NARRATOR: There's a little more recent history in the materials.
The deck is made of recycled bleach bottles
and will be forever white.
And that's no illusion.
Just about the only thing that isn't
in this truly magical Florida home.
When an Italian businessman and his wife
decided to move their family to Morocco,
they found a small house, a dar,
in a market alleyway in Marrakech
and set out to modernize it.
Two and a half years later,
they had bought 20 neighboring houses,
and what began as a single dar
has blossomed into a 29,000-square-foot riad --
This great secret lies behind a modest door in the market.
Suddenly, you're in a tropical oasis
of fish ponds, bamboo, and banana trees.
As you approach the house,
all the silver and glass looms over you.
It doesn't feel Moroccan...
but then go inside.
The interior is both traditional
and contemporary at the same time
and very Moroccan.
At its center is this 25-foot atrium pool.
In a traditional riad,
there would be an open courtyard in this space,
but here, there's a pool with a glass roof.
So, it's a combination of something old and something new,
which is what this house is all about.
Around the pool, there's a room for every mood in your day.
In the morning, you can pull out a book in the library
or admire the elaborate handiwork of local craftsmen.
In the heat of the day,
you might stroll into the reading room.
The parquet floor is made of lemon, bubinga,
and cedar woods from the nearby Atlas Mountains.
Overhead, there's a modern interpretation
of a very traditional Moroccan dome made in Marrakech.
Later on, you could take a Turkish bath
in a fully equipped hamam.
Having an elaborate bath is traditional.
This one is opulent with elegant tiles
and ceramic mosaics set in plaster.
There are a variety of these
in other rooms throughout the house.
Dinner is in the formal dining room.
The walls are tadelakt plaster, which is made from local lime.
It's good for imprinting
and decorated with local designs in relief.
Much of the house was built by traditional local craftsmen.
It took 100 of them nearly 3 years
hauling everything in through the market by donkey.
25,000 poor donkey-loads in all.
These inlays on the main stairs are mother-of-pearl...
or you could take the elevator with its unique design.
Step off upstairs,
and you're on a wide and airy gallery above the pool.
The master suite includes a bedroom
and a sitting room with two comfortable daybeds
and a balcony overlooking a courtyard garden.
Each of the other 8 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms
is unique in style and decor,
and they're scattered through the passages of the house.
Climb to the top of the house, and there's one last secret --
a roof terrace.
It has both a dining and sitting area.
The roof garden is full of exotic plants,
like cacti from Bolivia and Chile.
At the end of the day, you can sit out here
and watch the sun go down along the Marrakech skyline.
The owners call their house "the Secret."
Go walking through the maze of this house,
and you never know what you'll uncover.
Our next home, in Australia,
shows that science fiction can become architectural fact.
NARRATOR: We're back with more "Extreme Homes."
If you thought a spaceship had landed
in this forest of tea trees in Australia,
you wouldn't be the only one.
Paul Morgan designed the house near Melbourne
as a getaway for himself and his sister
and admits he was heavily influenced
by his passion for sci-fi films.
My brother is an architect,
and one of his favorite movies
is Kubrick's "A Space Odyssey, 2001."
I suppose that's really
where a lot of the inspiration came from.
NARRATOR: Anna wanted more of a nightclub theme,
but, in the end, she succumbed to the dramatic power
of what her brother calls "cinematic architecture."
We don't have a mailbox with our house number on it.
So, when people are looking for our house,
I tell them to look out for the spaceship.
NARRATOR: Paul and Anna did agree that the house should have
an intimate connection to its environment.
It stands on a peninsula,
and the sea is just out of sight beyond the trees.
And where there's sea, there's weather.
We're very exposed to the wind and the rain and the sun,
sort of getting all forms of weather
hitting us from all the different angles,
and my brother was particularly interested in
how the wind moved through the peninsula,
so he did a lot of wind-tunnel studies,
and he actually built a model of the house
where he used pins and a piece of cotton
and angle it at different sort of degrees with a fan
to see the impact it would have
of the wind moving through the house.
NARRATOR: Being cool was just as important.
In the summer, temperatures can reach 110 degrees.
Paul came up with two ingenious solutions.
This giant, white bulb in the center of the house
is actually a cistern
filled with all the rainwater from the roof.
It cools the surrounding air
and provides a backup water supply
for the house and the garden.
Visitors have described it as a teardrop...
and a bowling pin.
But the inspiration was something else.
It might be a coincidence,
but when my brother was designing this,
his partner was pregnant,
and there's certainly something very maternal about this,
and a lot of people come into the house,
and sort of just want to sort of hold it.
It's got something that's quite tactile to it.
NARRATOR: The cistern hangs right in the middle
of the open living area,
which includes the kitchen. a dining table,
a study area and plenty of room to relax.
The line of windows running around the room
could be on the Starship Enterprise,
but in this case, it lets sunlight
into the elegant, modern interior.
Since brother and sister co-own the house,
there is no master bedroom.
There are three bedrooms, all the same size,
all off the central area, and two bathrooms.
the bedrooms are on the darker end of the spaceship.
PEARCE: The dark, closed-off side of the house
is really protected from the southerly winds,
and then you have the canopy of tea trees in the back
that offer a lot of shade, as well.
NARRATOR: These ingenious shutters,
which cover the bedroom windows,
provide even more protection.
It's an innovative solution
for a thoroughly futuristic house,
yet one firmly grounded on planet Earth.
PEARCE: I see this house as a window to the landscape.
I especially love the property at night
with all the shadows,
and when you've got the bulb there in the middle,
when you can't see much
apart from the reflection of the tea trees in the bulb,
it's almost sort of it's come out of the earth in some ways.
It's really special at night.
NARRATOR: In the Netherlands,
this family blew glass bubbles to create a fun house.
NARRATOR: We've seen a home made to deceive you,
a home that is one palatial secret,
and one made to look like it's from another planet.
Our next home is in Mechelen, Belgium.
It's truly a family home, and this one's full of fun.
It looks like a giant tepee.
The three-pointed triangular structure
reflects the three generations of family who've all lived here,
and this family's life is anything but dull.
Go inside, and the home is just full of color,
like a giant lava lamp.
It even has bubbles.
Originally designed in the 1980s by Jan Vanderberry,
the pyramidal structure was built
on a wood, aluminum, and cement framework.
Jan's daughter Els grew up in the house
but moved out as a young adult.
While pregnant with her first child,
she began looking for a new place.
Dad moved out so daughter could move back in.
She left the exterior alone,
but inside, she made her own mark.
Her design opened up the house in an interesting way.
She put glass bubbles into the floor,
and the kids love them.
You can see very well the difference to the old house
and the new things that we put into it
because here you see the white ceiling,
the holes with the lights.
NARRATOR: They're like the holes in Swiss cheese.
The circles and semicircles of glass
are an inch and a half thick and strong enough to walk on,
but not everyone is willing to try it.
VAN DEN BERGHEN: It's safe to walk on it,
but when friends of my little boy come here to play,
they're all walking around
because they're a little bit scared of the glass.
NARRATOR: All the glass portholes around the house
help Els keep track of the kids while she's working.
She runs a business out of the house making handbags.
All the glass means the children can play in their space,
and she can work in hers and keep an eye on them.
VAN DEN BERGHEN: When the children are at home, they play in their playroom,
and I still can see them, and I'm with them,
so it's -- I love living here.
NARRATOR: The staircase looks like it's made for a party.
There used to be concrete steps.
Now they're fire-engine red and set inside a glass cylinder.
It's safe for kids, and adults, climbing up to the kitchen.
The kitchen is both cool and calming.
The white and wood and the stylish furniture
are easy on the eyes.
Els' new interior floor plan left the space open
with lots of natural light,
and you can close off the kitchen
if you don't feel like washing the dishes.
The master bedroom is up another floor, opposite a gym,
so they can stay fit and keep up with their young kids.
The children sleep on the next floor up.
And, finally, at the very top,
the red ropes that run up the stairway
from the ground floor connect to the ceiling.
We have got these ropes to protect --
Because the hole in the middle, it goes right downstairs,
and we don't want the little children to fall down.
NARRATOR: The stairs aren't the only colorful thing about the house.
Some lights allow you to change the shade of an entire room
to suit your mood --
One very cool and fitting feature
in this family fun house.
Our next home in Portland, Oregon,
was designed deliberately to stand out...
in the woods.
The middle floor of the house is sided with red cedar,
and the façade is layered.
The siding, large windows, and a wooden deck
are offset from one another.
This house makes you one with nature,
and you feel a part of the surrounding environment.
It's all thanks to the cantilevered end of the house,
which hangs out over the forest slope.
There's a sturdy steel frame covered with concrete and wood
that supports this section of the house,
no pillars needed.
This smart construction means the base has a small footprint,
and the house can still stick its neck out.
If it looks familiar,
it's because this stand-out home was the residence
for Robert Pattinson's vampire family
in the "Twilight" movies.
It may be hidden away in the woods,
but it's so well-known among its teenage fans
that the home even gets its own fan mail.
And this supernatural star house is superbly natural.
Exposed boulders in the garden and timber Ipe decking
give it a polished, rustic look.
However, living in the wild
doesn't mean you have to forgo sophistication.
From the den at the back
through to the living room and dining room,
the furniture has been carefully selected by the owner
over a 20-year period.
The kitchen is food for the soul.
Imagine having breakfast
while you hang out in the forest, literally,
with the sights and sounds of nature all around you.
And if you get tired, head up to the top floor,
lie down, and contemplate the forest
as you drop off to sleep.
The wild forest outside
contrasts with the precision of the interior design,
like the study desk matching the shape of the skylight.
And when you take a shower,
it feels like you're literally standing in the rain,
And after you've dried off,
there's your very own dressing room
and walk-in closet.
Across the landing,
the children's bedrooms have their own views of the forest.
The picture windows all around the house
not only frame nature's beauty,
they also give the house a bright, modern feel
and carefully control light in all the rooms.
There is even a slick-looking see-through fireplace
for those cold nights deep in the forest,
in a fox-colored home, made famous by a vampire.
Up next, a London home that put the Victorians
and the post-war 1950s in a giant glass box.
NARRATOR: We're back on our tour
of the world's most extreme homes.
London is well-known for its colorful history,
but our next home
doesn't look like it has much of a history at all.
However, the sleek glass exterior and glossy interiors
hide the fact that this house has a past
that dates back to the 1950s,
and before that, to the 19th-century Victorians.
The house is in the high-end suburb of Highgate.
There was a large Victorian home on this site,
but it was torn down in the 1950s
to make way for a new house built on the same foundation.
And now, this 1950s building has had a complete makeover.
So it's the third house on the old Victorian plot.
Architect Nick Eldridge decided against
tearing down the 1950s house and starting over.
Instead, he designed the new house
to build on the strengths of the old one.
The '50s home was stripped down to the basic frame,
and an extra floor was added on top for the view.
There's now a grand entrance
and two new extensions on the ends of the house,
doubling its size.
Many people think this is a new house,
but, in fact, this wall here
is the front wall of the original 1950s house.
There were certain features of the '50s house
that we thought were rigorous and geometric
and could work with the new design.
NARRATOR: The new building kept the original five bays of windows
but removed the old frames and installed large panes
of strong, load-supporting glass, instead.
It added a high glass atrium at the front
and changed the way the downstairs rooms can be used.
For family life,
there's a kitchen with nice stone floors...
a dining room with a garden view...
a living room with a modern fireplace...
and an open-light conservatory with artworks.
But all of this can be turned into one large space
big enough to accommodate a sit-down dinner for 60.
ELDRIDGE: The ground floor is very much an entertainment space
with four spaces which create this long entertaining room,
which looks out onto the garden,
but at the same time, it can be divided
into four small, more intimate spaces for family living.
NARRATOR: Walk past the TV room by the entrance,
head upstairs, and everything gets brighter and whiter.
The furniture in the main bedroom,
as well as much of the rest of the house,
was designed by the architects and custom-made to match.
There are two other bedrooms upstairs,
and all three have private bathrooms
with marble floors.
There's more than bedrooms upstairs,
like a meeting room and a work area, too.
All that glass lets in plenty of light,
and there's a terrace with a view of London...
on a clear day.
White is the color of choice, even for works of art.
In fact, this house was built as a showcase for art,
as much as a home for its owners.
The downstairs conservatory could have been all glass,
but it was purposely designed with some solid wall space
for privacy, as well as for hanging of artwork.
The brief for designing this house
was very much to integrate art,
so although creating a very transparent, light house,
we had to incorporate walls
that would display quite large artworks.
NARRATOR: Even though it's in the middle
of the historic Highgate conservation area,
the home's modern design was given the stamp of approval
by the local planning board,
as a property putting its own stamp on London history.
Our next home is in Canada
and works its way up from the coast
and into the forest.
But this is no city high-rise,
even though there are 16 floors hidden away in the woodland.
The different levels branch off from one another,
like the branches of a tree.
Maybe that's why it fits in here so well.
The building stands in the coastal hills of Vancouver,
and from this neck of the woods,
there's a lovely view of Fishermans Cove
and the bay beyond it.
However, this is no tree house.
The residence winds through old-growth forest
hundreds of years old
and was built to appreciate and protect
the giant trees on the property.
When Alastair Johnstone and Jeannette Langmann
and their two children moved in,
they knew their home
was head and shoulders above the rest.
Most houses, you aren't up in the trees like this one.
I mean, we really are in the canopy of the trees.
The sound of the trees is amazing.
It's kind of a whistling, very, very soothing, rhythmic sound.
Like the forest around it, this house has gradually grown.
It was started in 1974
and branched out with additions in the 1980s, tripling in size.
This area that we're in right now
is the actual, original house.
The rest of the house was added on.
The house was designed by Paul Merrick,
who's a well-renowned West Coast architect,
and he was the person who created
West Coast modern architecture,
and that's what this house
is an absolutely perfect example of,
and it's one of the first examples of it.
This is what he built for himself.
So-called West Coast homes
always make the most of their surroundings.
They have lots of windows to let in the natural setting,
and they're often built on rocky sites in the woods
with magnificent ocean views.
Boat watching is a favorite pastime here.
Alastair and Jeannette are sailors
and feel right at home in this house.
If you look at it on a smaller scale, is a ship inside.
The ribs of the ship are the roof.
If you flipped it over, you'd be in a boat.
As you enter the home,
you walk past a giant stone chimney
and into a kind of music room/ conservatory with a grand piano.
The kids' bedrooms are down-sloped from the entrance.
Off one branch, there's a living room
with a forest view at one end
and a bare rock wall at the back,
another common detail in West Coast architecture.
That's because the house has been built into the landscape,
not just on top of it.
The house is built on the topography of the land,
so it's a very steep cliff that the house is built on,
so it's actually built into the rocks,
so part of the house is built around the rock,
and in the family room, you can see the rock exposed.
There are rooms on different levels, up-sloped, too --
a bathroom made for soaking...
an open kitchen flooded with natural light...
and next to it, the living room.
The fireplace sits in the 45-foot chimney
that rises to the top of the cathedral ceiling.
Multi-level living is the rule here.
There's a balcony for your afternoon nap.
Down a step or two, then up some more,
and you're in a bedroom under a gabled roof with skylights.
The balconies outside put you right into the trees.
A particular 50-foot fir tree
seems to rise from out of the house itself.
You come out onto the deck,
you sort of have to see the Douglas fir
that the house was built around.
Douglas fir is the premier wood in British Columbia.
It's what made British Columbia what it is.
It's probably 150, 200 years old,
but he obviously thought
this was the center point of the house
and literally built the entire house around it.
Not quite a tree house, it is a house in the trees
with many stories on many levels.
In New York State, one homeowner shows
that you can live the circus life right at home.
NARRATOR: We're back with more "Extreme Homes."
Parts of Long Island are well-known for being home
to New York's rich and famous,
but that didn't stop this homeowner from constructing
an inexpensive, efficient, and somewhat unusual dwelling
in the heart of mansion country.
This home is fun.
You can climb 45 feet to your own spider web,
hang out in giant bunk bedrooms,
or swing yourself from one side to the other.
Homeowner Kevin Shea
used to deliver mail to this address.
Now he lives here.
SHEA: The inspiration for my home
actually came from more of desperation.
I was desperate to have a home of my own,
and the dome was these little kits
that you can actually build,
so I thought, "I'll look for that."
NARRATOR: So, Kevin decided he really wanted to live
in a 70-foot diameter geodesic dome,
but when the parts arrived,
putting all the wooden framing and rigid foam together
wasn't that easy.
The framing was basically a kit, but when you would get a stud,
the stud was a little bit twisted, warped, bowed,
so you'd have wood that would not connect,
so you'd have to use your forces
and sometimes the forces of six people holding a rope
to try to get those triangle pieces to match together.
NARRATOR: The curved web of this dome home sits on a concrete foundation,
and the interior layout is the ultimate open plan.
In one big room, there's a living area...
and a kitchen with dining room.
There is a private bedroom with bath in an enclosed space.
The dome is almost 100% self-sufficient,
thanks to a wind turbine and solar panels.
Kevin's monthly power bill runs about 6 bucks,
and those few dollars are spent on radiant floor heating,
which keeps things toasty in the colder months.
SHEA: The radiant heat comes up from the floor
and heats you up,
and you can zone it out, which is even better.
You can actually turn one area that's all heated up
and hang out there and do all your work,
and then, the rest of the area could be cold.
NARRATOR: Kevin innovated in the garden, too.
These terraces are beds made of repurposed old tires.
The only building restriction was height -- 45 feet, max,
but that was perfect.
So, Kevin lives his life under the big top.
Dome designer Buckminster Fuller would be proud.
And now we head to Amsterdam.
This Dutch city has 65 miles of canals,
so living on barges is not unusual,
but what if you have a growing family,
and you want to live on the water but not on a barge?
Well, you make a house that floats like a barge.
Claudia and Rolf Molchen and their three kids
were already living on a boat,
but with another child on the way,
they thought, "We're going to need a bigger one."
Unable to afford Amsterdam real-estate prices,
they floated the idea of building a residence on water.
It was designed by framework architects and studio prototype.
The new house may float,
but it sure doesn't look like a boat.
There's no trace of a hull and no masts or portholes,
and it shows all of the signs of being a landlocked house.
The Molchens' water villa
even has a covered concrete foundation.
The giant 3-story box weighs a hefty 160 tons.
It floats because the area below the surface
displaces more water than the weight of the house.
So, it's buoyant.
Inside, the canal villa is more like a real vessel on the water,
and family life aboard is a bit nautical.
Some of the sleeping berths are below, just like on a boat.
And the kids' quarters are right next to the guest stateroom.
A skylight over the central atrium
fills the home with light,
and a long, heavy steel staircase
winds from top to bottom.
Up on the main deck,
a living room looks out onto a waterside patio.
On the other side of the vessel,
there's a dining room with a canal view,
served by a normal kitchen.
Living on a canal doesn't mean
giving up the conveniences of life ashore.
The houseboat is permanently moored here,
so it's hooked up to city water and electricity.
Up another flight of stairs is the master bedroom.
Like most other rooms, it opens onto the atrium
so family members can hear each other if need be.
There's a private bathroom nearby
and a hammock for when you want to relax,
or a work area for when you don't.
The vertical lines in the staircase
complement the wooden exterior.
Panel windows can be opened for light or closed for privacy.
This floating villa is six times bigger
than the Molchens' previous boat home.
because there will be six Molchens very soon.
Up next, a house in the U.K. that's home to a dragon.
NARRATOR: We're back on our tour
of some of the world's most extreme homes.
This next home is in the U.K. in Suffolk
and uses the tricks of medieval magic to cast a spell.
It looks like the mystical wizard Merlin built it.
It has a tower...
and a bedroom fit for King Arthur.
There's even a dragon keeping watch.
But, of course, this house isn't centuries old.
It's not even decades old.
It's been like this for just two years.
The resident king and queen are Nick Fisher and Jo Jordan,
who bought the property
with the 19th-century farmhouse in disrepair on it.
The restoration design appeared as if by magic.
The original inspiration was from a sketch
that we found in an old architectural magazine
completely by accident,
and the page flopped open, and Nick said,
"We could build something like that."
We actually had an architectural model made,
rather than plans, and it was the model
that was put before the planners for approval,
and our model maker
had somewhat mischievously twisted a piece of metal
to pop on top of the chimney of the model.
Anyway, because the planner said
we had to construct the dwelling as the model represented it,
that actually included this little thing,
this creature on top of the chimney.
So, [Chuckles] that's when we had to start thinking
what it was going to be, and how it would work.
NARRATOR: This dragon is made of metal mesh
to allow wind to pass through it,
so it won't fly away or bring down the chimney,
and the new chimney was built using bricks from the original.
The strong feel of history in this remade house
comes from the many older, salvaged materials
used in reconstruction.
In fact, they discovered bricks
from the 16th-century Tudor period
and used them, too.
Inside, it's the same thing.
Curved brackets in the hall come from the local railway station.
Floorboards were salvaged from village halls.
Old traditional materials were used, too,
like this straw installed as wall insulation.
And the bare-wood tower supports were cut from a nearby forest.
Off the hallway, there's a pea-green kitchen
with oak cabinets made by local joiners.
These used to be old, rusted, junky, corrugated-iron sheets.
Now they're designer cabinet doors.
Downstairs, you'll find an opulent living room
and a dining area.
There's even a round table
for nights of revelry and dinner parties
in historic splendor.
The fascinating interior of this baronial residence
is decorated with artifacts and books
collected from around the world.
This conservatory houses the model of the home
and is full of curiosities.
There's a library of well-read books
and an array of things from Joe and Nick's travels
The heart of the ground floor
sits at the bottom of the staircase
like something from the sacred grove of the Druids.
It's an old elm-tree trunk struck by lightning.
It's like many of the ideas for the house --
bolts out of the blue.
As we went along internally,
it was just a question of what do we think we want?
It was all done on a bit of an ad-hoc basis, to be honest.
NARRATOR: The upstairs landing is next to the top of the elm trunk.
Dragons and Indian guards protect the nearby study
and another library.
Up here, there's also a big bedroom
with a kind of giant cockatoo hanging from the overhead light
and a four-poster bed with a hand-carved headboard.
The master bedroom also has a big four-poster
crowned with a canopy hand-carved by Nick.
And through ornate, golden doors lies the bathroom
with granite floors from Rajasthan, India.
If you'd rather bathe alfresco, there's a lake nearby,
and like King Arthur's tale, this one has a lady.
There's also a lightning conductor
to deal with any more "brilliant strokes"
and protect the lord and lady of the lake living within.
Our next home in Las Vegas proves
that leftover beer bottles are good for something.
NARRATOR: Welcome back to "Extreme Homes."
You may have heard the phrase,
"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."
Well, it couldn't be more true about our next home.
This grand residence really belongs in the Las Vegas strip.
It's got mermaids, a pirate bridge, and a water slide --
sort of like a theme park.
But what makes this humongous house even more unusual
is what it's made of.
From the walls to the fireplaces
down to the countertops,
it's all smashed-up beer bottles.
An incredible half-million of them
were collected from casinos and trash dumps,
then crushed to dust.
This was substituted for sand in the cement
used in practically every element of this house.
Homeowner, builder, and designer Scott McCombs
clearly doesn't mind walking on broken glass,
since it's even in the floors and stairs.
As a building material, it works like a charm.
The columns are actually made of what we call GFRC,
which is glass-reinforced cement.
The glass fibers enable you to make a very thin cross-section,
so it's very lightweight.
Whereas before it would be cast,
and it would weigh thousands of pounds,
one of these shafts probably weighs around 250 pounds,
to give you an idea.
So two men could easily bring it to the home and assemble it,
be able to stand it up into position.
NARRATOR: Scott used the lightweight cement
to shape his home from top to bottom
and give it some grandeur.
So, when you see marble columns, antique tiles, or a fireplace
and think "hand crafted,"
in fact, you're looking at architectural details
that have been molded like a Jell-O dessert.
If you have the ambition and the desire,
you could actually construct molds of different size.
This actually happens to be a 12x24 paver
where we constructed a urethane-rubber mold,
and then we took the cements
and we created kind of trade-secret colorants
that one can experiment on their own
till they come up with what they like
to create the marbling effect.
NARRATOR: You look and you think,
"These walls are gorgeous marble," but nope.
Just like spotting Elvis in Vegas,
this is not the real thing.
Sponges with paint were applied to patterned castings,
and the resulting finishes are very convincing.
The illusions don't stop there.
The sculptures of mythical creatures around the house
are real enough,
and these mermaids literally provide a silver lining
to the faux marble.
The mermaids are actually been cast in bronze,
and then we take real silver,
and we make it into a solution -- silver patina.
And then as you heat the bronze with a torch
to apply the patina,
it actually coalesces, the silver does,
and creates this unique plating.
NARRATOR: The bronze sculptures are outside, too.
These flowers do pretty well in the Las Vegas heat.
Through the ornate gate and the front door,
there's an entrance hallway that is Las Vegas classic.
To one side of the grand staircase is a game room.
Take your pick -- billiards or pool.
On the other side
is the dramatically lit dining room,
and beyond, an unusual circular kitchen
with a big nod to ancient Rome.
Everything is molded in a curve,
from the cupboards to the sink,
to the frescoed, faux-dome ceiling.
The dome above us is actually sunk by 12 inches,
and then we painted the mural of angels
and kind of gave it that Roman feel.
NARRATOR: The grand living room
is more Caesars Palace than ancient Rome.
Mini pillars frame a giant flat-screen TV,
and for any Romans who want to sleep it off,
there's a master bedroom upstairs
with a big four-poster bed and a private bathroom --
just a few easy steps into the bath.
Across the floor,
there's a furnished easy room for chilling out.
Now look up.
These guys are good.
McCOMBS: These beams are actually manufactured
of polyurethane foam.
You get a faux-wood beam that's very, very lightweight.
NARRATOR: And totally convincing.
Out in the backyard, the garden was less about plants
and more about aquatic adventure,
like the water slide down into pools of mock rocks.
If you want a drink after your adventure,
there's a grotto bar.
Overhead, walk the rope bridge
so you can watch all the action but not get wet.
Even this owes its being to ***.
Those are actually the staves of a wine barrel,
right at home next to all the beer bottles
in the walls, not on them.
We've seen homes of all shapes and sizes
in locations around the world.
From a home made with glass bubbles
to another made from science fiction.
We've seen a heavy house that floats,
and a haven for wizards,
but all of these houses have something in common.
To their owners, they're simply home, sweet home.
Thanks for watching "Extreme Homes."