Space-Mountain/Disney-Cruise-themed mid-century house remodel

By Len Testa


[Editor's note: Len and Laurel Testa co-write the amazing Unofficial Guide series, including the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland]

My partner Laurel and I bought a mid-century modern house last year. (It's the second house listed here.) We finished a Space-Mountain/Disney-Cruise-themed remodel in March and it's on a couple of upcoming house tours in August and October.

The home was built in 1968 and had the latest technology at the time: a General Electric low-voltage lighting system in the kitchen and master bedroom, which controlled lights throughout the house through a series of dials and switches; a NuTone intercom/AM/FM whole-house radio system, and a built-in UHF/VHF TV antenna connected to every room in the house, among other things. It's also got sliding “pocket” doors to save space, skylights, and a bunch of other design details you don't see enough of these days.

Both Laurel and I are big fans of the Disney theme parks, so we decided to keep the house's "retro-future" theme while incorporating classic Disney attractions. Our kitchen mimics Walt Disney World's Space Mountain post-show scene, including the banquette, cabinets, LED lighting and table centerpieces. It was built by Ted Endriss of TeamGreenWorx in Greensboro, NC.

Here's another view, at night:


The table's centerpieces are the same as those found in Space Mountain:

Laurel spent a lot of time looking for those.

Here's the supplier list:

Ice bucket - Waiter's Tools by Nuance
White Acrylic Tray
Water Bottles - Kor One Hydration Vessel Ice Blue

The Sputnik light fixture isn't from Space Mountain but is period appropriate. It's from PracticalProps.com.

Behind the table are four 60-inch plasma displays, inspired by the Skyline bar on the Disney Cruise Line's Dream ship. These are set to pull random images from the Web, and we use VLC to stream video.

We also updated the rest of the kitchen. One of the original appliances we kept was a built-in Nu-Tone Food Center, which I repaired with spare parts from eBay:


Our bathrooms are an interpretation of the Senses Spa on Disney Cruise Line's ship, the Fantasy. Laurel's bath is done in a glass green tile:


The shower doors slide back, so it opens like a tube. Mine is similar, in red:


The picture frame in that photo is a Raspberry Pi-powered LED monitor, and it was the prototype for the kitchen setup. I wrote some Javascript (available here) to pull random images based on user-defined keywords, using the Flickr API, so the images change constantly.

Our fireplace's air return was turned into an Enchanted Tiki Room tribute, complete with tikis from Disneyland and Walt Disney World, and enhanced by red and orange LEDs to simulate flames:

You can't see it in this photo, but the guys from Oak Ridge Electric added a blower motor and silk sheet beneath the tikis to emulate the flame effect at Pirates of the Caribbean. It was entirely their idea and I think they were as excited as we were to see it running.

We had a great architect in Jill Spaeh of Spaeh Architecture + Environments and a fabulous construction team in Kevin Jones Design-Build. Neither of them were even a little bit fazed with our requests. And the amazing thing about this project's budget was that the custom work - getting exactly what we wanted - only added about 12% to the overall cost.

We were fortunate to have Sam Gennawey, Disney author and urban planner, to translate "Disney-speak" to our architect as we went along. When we told our architect that the landscaping needed to pull people along the walkways by incorporating "weenies" - Disney's term for something of visual interest - Sam was able to translate "weenie" to "view terminus" for Jill.

Next year's project includes a garden for the lot next door. If anyone has a spare replica of the IllumiNations globe, let me know.

Published 12:59 pm Mon, Aug 19, 2013

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About the Author

Len Testa is a travel writer for the Unofficial Guide travel series. With his partner, Laurel Stewart, Len covers Disney World, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, and Britain's best amusement parks. Together they spend a lot of time in theme park attractions.

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