“We all fell in love with this house the moment we walked in, all four of us,” says Debbie Garlock, who with her husband Tom, son Jeremy and daughter Julianne, now lives in the Monolithic Dome home.
Both Debbie and Tom claim that it was the nontraditional design of the residence that immediately attracted them. Tom, a chiropractic doctor and acupuncturist, lists “disaster resistance, sturdiness, self-sufficiency, energy-efficiency and low maintenance” as his reasons for wanting the home. Debbie, however, recalls their attraction and reasoning somewhat differently. She says, “My husband is a very unique individual. We saw pictures of this dome home. At that point, it had been on the market for two years. It was off grid; that repelled most lookers.” (When a home is off-grid, no power cables come to it. Instead, a source on the property, such as solar, provides electricity.) “But Tom wanted something off grid,” Debbie continues. “And he felt like the house was something he had seen in a dream. It had a greenhouse and a waterfall — two of the features we were going to incorporate if we built. So it really did seem like a dream come true.”
Situated atop a ledge of the Colorado Rockies, the Garlocks’ home consists of two domes merged into a unique, kidney shape: a 32-foot diameter garage gently blends into the larger, 50-foot diameter shell placed nine feet below it. The home was designed by architect Jonathan Zimmerman, who designed several different dome homes around the country.
The structure has three levels providing about 3800 square feet of living space. Its lower level encompasses two bedrooms, bathroom, exercise room and greenhouse centered about a waterfall, indoor pond and a rising planter. Made of wooden cylindrical forms, this planter and two others are tree-trunk look-a-likes that bring an organic touch to the dome’s interior. Large, sliding glass doors provide entry to the greenhouse with its hydroponic garden and make it easy to open or close off the greenhouse, depending on the temperature desired in that area.
The original owner, Bilby Wallace, wanted self-sufficiency. A photovoltaic power source made that possible. Since the home is off-grid, a solar system generates all the electricity on site. Two sets of outdoor panels produce about 1320 watts with full sun. The sun also charges a series of batteries in the battery room off the garage.
For backup, a propane-run generator and baseboard heaters were installed in the lower bedrooms. These were installed not so much from necessity but for resale value.
The main level consists of garage and workshop; outdoor deck; main entry; storage, laundry and bathroom facilities; and living, dining, kitchen and office spaces clustered about a large open area that overlooks the indoor oasis of pond and waterfall below.
The upper or treetop level has a master bedroom loft, that looks over the indoor oasis below it and into the pine forest surrounding it. A master bath suite, large walk-in closets, and a curved tongue-in-groove wood wall that rises from the kitchen and becomes a planter at the balcony complete this level.
Like the planters resembling trees, the fireplace and curved waterfall, both faced with natural stone, echo the craggy, rough terrain that surrounds the Garlocks’ home. Tom says, “I don’t have a favorite area. I like the whole house.”
Debbie agrees. “I don’t know how to describe the feelings,” she says. "When people come, they have to come inside. You can’t get the feel of the house just from the outside. So prospective buyers who would look at the outside and not go in would immediately be uninterested. It was just too different for them.
“But the minute you walk inside-wow! It’s so open,” Debbie says. “We have windows that are three stories high. People who come up here don’t want to leave. They stay for hours and hours. The house has its own energy flow. It’s restful and peaceful, but invigorating too.”
The Garlocks say that they had that energy flow checked by a friend who is also a Feng Shui master. (Feng Shui, pronounced fung schway, is an ancient, Chinese discipline that strives to create harmony and a positive energy flow between natural and man-made environments, for greater peace and prosperity.)
According to Debbie, the Feng Shui master found their home “perfectly placed and positioned for the age of the house and for us, so no major corrections were needed. It was perfect for financial gain and fame.”
The master did, however, recommend a color change. Since whites and crystals work best in structures made of concrete and metal, the Feng Shui master suggested that the home’s original green carpeting be replaced. “We did that,” Debbie says. “We got oatmeal white carpeting and went to a shades of white and black color scheme, with very modern, streamlined furniture.”
The Garlocks made one other change. They added a wall along the front of their property to give it more of an estate look.
Tom says, “It’s fortunate that the house doesn’t need changing. It would take an awful lot of effort to change this structure. I can’t imagine even trying to put in another window. Imagine trying to knock a hole into concrete and steel.” Debbie puts it this way. “My husband has always been ahead of the trends. I think he’s a visionary. So, why would we want to change something that he claims he first saw in a dream.”
Note: Printed from the Fall 1999 Roundup