A Closer Look at the Mushroom Houses

Get a closer look at the Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix by watching the slideshow.  Then, read on to learn a little more about the distinctive features of these homes.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Designed by Earl Young (a homegrown, self-taught architect), the Mushroom Houses of Charlevoix have a magical quality to them. Much of that magic is derived from Young’s attention to small details – whimsical shapes, organic building materials, framing the buildings by their natural surroundings, and other distinctive qualities.

Earthy Materials – Young was known for greatly using earthy materials like stones, boulders, and limestone. Many of the boulders came directly from nearby Lake Michigan.

Exposed Rafter Tails – Young’s design choice to have exposed rafter tails adds to the craftsman charm of many of his creations.

Rounded Shapes – Young incorporated rounded shapes in much of his work from the overall oval shape of his well-known Grant Street Mushroom House to the many arches featured in doorways and windows.  Even the roofs of his creations are rounded and wavy.

Unique Chimneys – A lot of attention was paid to the details of chimneys.  One structure features a brick chimney that twists in a spiral fashion as it rises above the roof of the house.  Another stone chimney has a wide pyramid-like shape.  Many of his chimneys feature a frosted cap causing the chimney to resemble wax dripping from the top of a melting candle. The fireplaces that accompany these chimneys are also outstanding!

Unique Doors – Many of the doors feature unique shapes and designs.  They often feature arches and/or unique wood designs.  Additionally, the front doors were often like a magical secret because they were often tucked away by sheltered/covered entrances.

Unique Windows – The windows feature beveled glass panes, leaded glass, interesting shapes, and of course, lots of arches. One house contains windows imported from a Polish castle.

Whimsical Surroundings – Special attention was given to each home’s natural surroundings which was often enhanced with such details as meandering limestone fences, whimsical pathways, and boulder-clad retaining walls.

Unexpected Mortar Colors – For a while, Young experimented with adding color to mortar as evidenced by the Boulder Park homes referred to as the “Red Mortar” house and the “White Mortar” house. He had also used green mortar.

It’s no wonder so many people are enchanted with these unique dwellings!

Learn about the many distinctive features of the Charlevoix Mushroom Houses.

Want to know more about our tour of the Mushroom Houses in Charlevoix? Read our previous blog post.


    1. A lot of people lovingly call them Hobbit Houses. They also get called Gnome Homes and Mushroom Houses. No matter what you call these earthy little structures, they certainly are lovely! 🙂

Please Share Your Thoughts