Sometimes picket fences and cupolas just won't do when it comes to making a statement with your house. If you're in the market for an off-the-wall custom home, consider drawing inspiration from architecture's greatest follies. Derived from the French word for "foolish," folly-inspired buildings defy logic and convention in the pursuit of a purely decorative aesthetic -- in other words, monuments to crazy.
From upside-down churches (it keeps the demons at bay) to Scottish pineapples (can't explain that one), we run down The Huffington Post's list of the oddest "follies" in the world.
Who said beach homes have to be dull? With all the natural beauty that coastal real estate commands, homeowners can stand to take some risks in the design department. With that in mind, TopTenRealEstateDeals.com compiled a list of the 10 most interesting beach homes this side of the equator. From cutting-edge art installations to a Parthenon-inspired monument to the gods, we run down the most stunning homes to hit the sand.
Location: Montauk, N.Y.
Price: $25 million
How do you stand out in the ultra-luxe environs of Montauk? By out-building your Bermuda shorts-wearing neighbors. This 7,400 square-foot modern contemporary compound includes two striking properties on a 75-foot bluff over the Montauk shoreline.
Even multimillionaires care about saving some bucks on energy bills. In addition to its other creature comforts, the home is equipped with radiant heating -- a highly energy-efficient system that heats floors and surfaces, not the air.
Location: Carmel, Calif.
Price: $19.2 million
The Butterfly House, perhaps named for its recent and extensive renovation, is seemingly perched right at the edge of the world. Wall-to-wall windows offer transformative views of the choppy waves below.
If saltwater isn't your thing, take a dip in the courtyard swimming pool. The home was designed with transparency in mind, allowing its inhabitants to move seamlessly between indoor and outdoor spaces.
Location: Kamuela, Hawaii
Price: $12.9 million
A patch of green painted onto granite seaside cliffs, this $12.9-million Hawaii mansion uses architecture to fuse indoor and outdoors into a cohesive living experience. Enclosed by tropical plants, the pool, spa and other flourishes of water blend into the Pacific.
Location: Malibu, Calif.
Price: $15.95 million
Overlooking the ocean, this Malibu beach home stands proudly on its 65-foot stretch of Malibu Road. Behind its glass and concrete exterior are six bedrooms and six and a half bathrooms along with a great room, dining room and gourmet kitchen -- all finished with exotic woods and stone.
Location: Sarasota, Fla.
Price: $14.5 million
Located in the posh Sanderling Club on Siesta Key, this abstract wonder seems to shift its shape, depending on where you view it. Each living space is contained within its own color-coded cube whose hue connotes a "privacy gradient."
Location: Laguna Beach, Calif.
Price: $9.995 million
It's fine to let your freak flag fly, but for those eccentric homeowners who value modesty, consider this elaborate beachside mansion. To the naked eye, it might appear to be a lavish waterfront property -- but look below and you'll find a Batman-inspired subterranean passageway.
If Bruce Wayne was into tanning, he might have holed up in this underground secret passageway. The home itself is hidden from street view by the rocky hill, but the owner has access to a secret passageway, complete with hydraulic elevator, that rises to the main floor. Pictured left is the showcase garage housed behind the stealthy facade. Maserati or Batmobile, the choice is yours.
Back upstairs, it's more Hollywood than Gotham, but every masked crusader needs a yin to her yang. The listing describes the style as "soft contemporary architecture," but by the moon's light, there's something enticingly sinister about the home.
Location: Golden Beach, Fla.
Price: $13.5 million
This sci-fi-looking home in Golden Beach features granite and wood floors with rolling walls and ceilings. Futuristic wonders of the $13.5 million home include a cantilevered floating staircase and glass-enclosed second-floor bridge.
Location: Westhampton Beach, N.Y.
Price: $10 million
This intriguing contemporary, priced at $10 million, commands 100 feet of shoreline on posh Dune Road of Westhampton Beach. Its cavernous 38-foot-tall foyer sounds a note of grandeur that trills into four guest suites and seven bathrooms along with a master suite, great room, chef's kitchen, dining room, elevator and theater.
Architect Guy Peterson designed the home, which took second place in SRQ Magazine's Annual Home of the Year award. The home offers a sweeping pavilion, laid out in front of floor-to-ceiling glass that buffers four bedrooms and four and a half baths from bright sunlight.
Price: $25 million
Location: Southampton, N.Y.
This classic contemporary home, just removed from 200 feet of beachfront, resembles a Greek temple. Robust columns encircle the rectangular structure, which affords 360-degree panoramas of the ocean and bay.
The interior has a sunken living room with recessed lighting and skylights designed to lure visitors on meandering tours around the house. In addition, floor-to-ceiling windows flood the premises with natural light during the day.
Outdoors offers a sunken tennis court with protective landscaping to shield rallies from interfering winds, plus a Gunite pool. When you want to switch from chlorine to salt, a deck path leads you toward the beach.