Frank Lloyd Wright fans are dizzy with excitement over the fact that a famous spiral-shaped house he designed in Phoenix has rolled its way onto the market for $12.95 million. Seriously, this place not only boasts this starchitect’s hands-on pedigree, but its winding shape was a prelude to Wright’s (and America’s) most famous spiral edifice of all: the Guggenheim Museum in New York.
This home isn’t just any old FLW home, but one he designed for his son, David Wright, who lived there with his wife, Gladys, after its construction was completed in 1952. The 2,553-square-foot property features three bedrooms and four baths on 5.58 acres, offering sweeping views of Camelback Mountain. There’s also a 360-square-foot guesthouse.
All of which sounds dreamy … but before you rustle up $13 million and head to Phoenix, there are a few things you should know about this house.
What it’s really like to live in a spiral house
Fine, it’s a one-of-a-kind beauty. But have you ever considered what it might be like to actually live in a spiral house?
First, let’s consider the upsides. Can’t do stairs? You’re in luck, this place offers elevation without the risks of falling down a flight and breaking a hip. It’s the very definition of wheelchair-accessible … and if you’re a kid, you can ride a skateboard from top to bottom, no sweat.
But there are some very real downsides to this curvy design, too.
“Frank Lloyd Wright houses are impressive pieces of architectural art, but they do come with unique challenges,” says William Fastow with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. “For one, the ability to choose your own furnishings and art can be difficult in a FLW home, because the layout, materials, and flow of the space is so specific.”
“The huge negative here is that it will be difficult to decorate and furnish with any existing or non-custom pieces,” agrees Drew Henry of Design Dudes. “You would have to get a lot of custom pieces made to fit the curve of the main walls.”
Luckily, Wright not only designed homes, but also decorated and designed his spaces with custom and built-in furniture. For example, “This Phoenix home, like many of his residential properties, includes built-in sofa seating,” says Fastow. The listing says the home also comes with a dining table and chairs, as well as reproductions of Wright’s signature ”March Balloons” carpet in the living room.
That’s great if you like this stuff … not so great if you don’t.
“FLW seating tends to be low to the floor, monolithic in shape, and feature vibrant colors associated with the Southwest, like yellows, burnt reds and oranges reminiscent of the desert landscape,” Fastow continues. “That’s a very specific set of design features to have to decorate around.”
In other words, if you’re the type who likes to completely own a space and decorate however you see fit, in this home you’d be butting heads and clashing wills with Wright’s almighty aesthetic. Good luck with that.
The surprising downsides of owning a Frank Lloyd Wright home
“When you own a FLW home, you are buying into a complete and comprehensive aesthetic that has limited opportunities for imprinting your own individual style and feel onto the home,” Fastow concludes. “Owning a FLW home is literally buying a piece of art that you live in. You don’t add flowers to a Picasso or paint jewelry onto the Mona Lisa. The house is what it is, and the interior aesthetic will only ever truly work as it was designed.”
Furthermore, brace yourself for a ton of visitors.
“I think another negative is living in a space that is so iconic,” Henry adds. “You would have to prepare for photoshoot requests and such from fans of the structure.”
As such, the seller might not have as easy a time unloading the property as one might think.
“The market for Frank Lloyd Wright homes has contracted in the last few years,” Fastow explains. “Though he has many followers, the limitations of his work means that only a few high-net worth individuals who are passionate about architecture or want a trophy home are in the market for such a unique property. My guess is that this [asking price] is a soft number with a lot of flexibility for the right buyer.”
“The potential downside of this home is that as beautiful as it is, it is truly unique, and these kinds of homes do not appeal to a wide audience of buyers,” agrees real estate agent Cara Ameer. “That being said, it is only takes one buyer—and people in this price point often want something that no one else has.” This place certainly fits that bill.