When Liz Bradford was a student at the University of Texas, one of her friends’ parents took her out on a boat on Lake Travis.


"I saw this amazing house on the lake and thought, ’What in the world was that?’" she says.


It was a house that she would dream about for decades, even after she moved to Dallas, and after she returned to the Austin area and bought one of the first homes built in Lakeway.


People have called "that house" on the lake the Mushroom House, the Nautilus House, some kind of spaceship and the Sand Dollar House. From above, it most looks like a sand dollar, though, she says.


"This house is iconic," she says. "To me, it’s probably the most iconic house on the lake. You can’t miss it."


She always wanted to buy it, even though she had never been inside.


When it went on the market in fall 2017, Bradford finally got her chance to look inside.


When she went to view it with a real estate agent, she says, "I felt it in my bones. I was standing in the kitchen. It just hit me: ’We have got to live in this house.’ It is so special," she says.


It was better than she had imagined from all her times looking up at it from the lake.


She bought it in January 2018, even though she and her husband had just finished a renovation on their own home and even though it would mean downsizing to a 2,240-square-foot house, about half the size of where they lived.


The Austin-based Weird Homes Tour has been letting folks into unusual spaces around the country once a week via Instagram and YouTube since the coronavirus pandemic began.


Now it’s bringing back the full Austin Weird Homes Tour, but instead of seeing the homes in person, ticket holders will be seeing them virtually.


You’ll see a tiny treehouse, a former bank, a home with a giraffe collection, one with an indoor pool, one that has mysterious objects to contact the afterlife, one filled with pop culture objects, one that is an art studio and the Sand Dollar House.


The Sand Dollar House was designed in 1979 by John Covert Watson, who had studied architecture under Frank Lloyd Wright. It was built for artist Eugenia Hunt as a second home.


Many of its details resemble Frank Lloyd Wright projects like the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Bradford is still finding little elements, little hidden details, all the time.


It was built for an artist, but it is art itself.


"I can really appreciate what the architect was thinking and doing and trying to create in this house," Bradford says.


The Sand Dollar House is considered organic modern architecture. It’s made of gunite (what swimming pools are constructed out of) and steel. Most of its walls are curved, and they’re all white. It’s an interior design challenge, for sure.


Bradford sold all their existing house furniture to find pieces that fit the modern style of this house. A lot of pieces she found at Design Within Reach.


The view is what blew Bradford away. Panoramic views can be appreciated from the kitchen, living room and the three bedrooms.


"Every day, I walk up the spiral staircase. ... It still takes my breath away. When visitors come to the front door, they have this same look."


It’s a great place to watch a storm come in off the lake, which was what Hunt noted in a piece of writing Bradford found.


It does come with its quirks. Bradford replaced all the windows to give it better insulation, but nothing was standard. She has yet to be able to find a solution to the broken Jacuzzi tub that is an unusual size.


"It’s definitely custom," as is everything in this house, Bradford says.


The hall closet is tucked into an alcove. Some of the white tile floor in a brick pattern is original. Other parts are newer. You can tell there was once green shag carpet.


Wood elements juxtapose the white gunite walls from doors with pocket holes or doorknobs to open shelving for dishes and artwork. Many of the knobs, light switches and other design features Bradford later recognized from her home when she went to the Guggenheim.


In the living room, a floating wood bench comes off of a curved wall. The fireplace mimics a kiva with a marble base.


The kitchen’s mix of small blue tiles and wood cabinets is second to the view of the lake below. The round kitchen juts out above a deck below.


The home’s most interesting feature is the spiral staircase with wood treads. Look up and see the teardrop-shaped skylights that look like you are inside a sand dollar. Underneath is a tucked-away reading nook.


All of the three bedrooms are on the bottom level. The bedrooms have windows and glass doors leading out to a series of porches.


"It’s a great house for entertaining," Bradford says. Even though it is smaller than her other house, guests spill onto the porches and decks and the trail to the water.


"We live in every part of this house," Bradford says. "We spend most of our time upstairs and out on the balcony overlooking the lake. It’s entertaining."


From all the home’s views, Bradford will often see folks slow down in their boats and look up at her, just like she did years before.


"I just wave," she says.


Even though this house doesn’t come with a ton of closet space or flat walls to hang artwork, and everything has to be done in a customized way, Bradford says, "I feel like it’s a privilege to live here. This house is very special."