Buy the '70s-Chic Personal Home of the Mushroom House Architect

  • The kitchen

    The kitchen

  • View from the kitchen

    View from the kitchen

  • The front door

    The front door

The designer behind the famous Mushroom House didn't stop once his fungus-inspired masterpiece was complete. The late ( and prolific) architect James Johnson designed a number of unique structures in the Rochester, NY, area, including his own personal residence. While no fungi were harmed in the construction of his home, it's an intriguing piece of architecture sprouting up from the ground.

Located in Penfield, NY, the house resembles a structure straight from the Shire in "Lord of the Rings" and it can be yours for $279,900. A steeply gabled cedar shake roof covers the glass-framed front door like a hood, while the pathway leading to the entrance is narrowed by a curving pair of stucco walls. The entire house features bends and curves throughout, a signature design of the architect.

"This was his pride and joy," says co-listing agent Robert Testa of Hunt Real Estate. "He did all the blueprints. He was involved with the building process. He took one or two years off of work to do the entire thing," he explains.

Johnson, who died last year, built the 2,940-square-foot home in 1976. The place hasn't been updated since the U.S. bicentennial, which is usually a negative for potential buyers. However, in this case, the unique decor begs for a bit of preservation.

The kitchen is a '70s-chic parakeet green with pendant lights and curving counters. It stands out not only for its striking color, but also because Johnson conceived an open layout decades before the design became de rigueur.

"He designed it so the kitchen is open to the dining and living area. He didn't have the rooms divided up, which is kind of rare for a house from the '70s to have," Testa says.

To the right is a dining area or sunroom, designed in a semicircle of glass doors and windows. Straight ahead is a sunken living area which has a fireplace with custom moulding designed by Marguerite Antell as a housewarming gift, Testa says. Antell and her husband had the Mushroom House built for them as a private residence.

"He was a really locally loved guy," Testa notes.

The house ebbs and flows throughout. Upstairs, the ceiling bows to the floor to allow for the dramatic entryway. Many of the walls bend, and Testa notes that every staircase in the house curves as well.

"The rooms curve to make them look bigger -- it's absolutely incredible. That was one of his specialities -- dealing with curvature and angles in architecture. With the Mushroom House, he built pods, for God's sake," Testa says.

The color green might also be one of his trademarks. Aside from the kitchen, a curving room in the back of the house features bright green carpet. It also has a sunken living space and a built-in wood storage. Testa says Johnson used the sunken part for a formal living room and the upper area for a formal dining room.

"The unique designs are giving it extra value," says Testa, noting the home is quite different from the Rochester area's normal architecture. "It's something special, it has that benefit."