Now there's Airplane House, a typical Southern California bungalow in the Ventura County town of Simi Valley that has half a Boeing 727 in the back yard, 100 airplane parts incorporated into the decor and a "pilot's lounge" where the family can relax and watch TV on a projection screen.
It's this middle-class suburb's latest remodeling job courtesy of "Monster House," Discovery Channel's extreme home renovation TV program. The creation of Airplane House will be televised Sept. 9.
"How many opportunities do you get in life to do something that's just crazy?" said Mark Penikas, an aviation nut who invited "Monster House" to complete this zany remodel of his family's three-bedroom home.
"It's the most fun you can have with the most amount of chaos. The more I heard about it, the more excited I got and the more nervous my wife got about it."
With good reason. How many women include dusting the turbine engine fan or the airplane wing on the list of household chores? There also are a cowling and knobs from the plane, a landing-gear bar and aviation office furniture, all part of this eye-popping interior decorating project.
Last Sunday, the Penikases saw their transformed house for the first time after having spent seven days in a small trailer, isolated from the renovation work.
Host Steve Watson walked Dad, Mom and their two sons through the
"Oh my God... Sweet!... This rocks," family members said in tandem.
Even Mom gave her seal of approval.
"I can live with this," Debbie Penikas said.
For four seasons, the self-described "home show on steroids" has transformed average-looking homes into one-of-a-kind creations. Remodeling the Penikases' home cost more than $20,000, plus the old plane, which was donated, said Ali McCallister, the show's producer.
"This is not your typical home-improvement show," McCallister said. "It's bigger and badder than everything you've ever seen... and really cool."
Watson said his show can do things others can't.
"Our hands aren't tied," he said. "We don't live by the rules.
"If we're going to do an airplane-theme house, let's put an airplane in the back yard. That's the greatest thing we've ever done. What's next?"
Airplane House, show No. 52, represents the style and personality of aviation buffs Mark, Debbie and their two children, Justin, 12, and Tommy, 14.
Mark, an Air Force veteran and retired law enforcement officer who now consults in the aviation and aeronautics industries, has been flying planes since he was 5. His father is a pilot and retired Boeing 747 instructor. His mother is a retired airline captain.
Debbie's grandfather flew over Pikes Peak in 1927, and the children fly radio-controlled aircraft.
The family already had several hundred model airplanes in the house, but none like the 35-foot half-plane in their back yard. Inside, there's a cockpit game station complete with a flight simulator.
Nearly 100 neighbors watched in awe last Tuesday as a 165-ton crane lifted the 10,000-pound commercial plane from a flatbed and lowered it into the yard.
"Why would someone have an airplane in their back yard?" neighbor Chuck Lane recalled thinking to himself. "It was the talk of the neighborhood. What in the world are they going to do with it?"
James Hodgkins, 15, said neighbors came out in droves, armed with cameras and camcorders.
"I can't believe they got a plane," he said. "I thought they'd remodel a room or two... but this is big."
Al Boughey, the city's director of environmental services, said building inspectors have been involved in the project from the beginning. The aircraft structure must meet building and safety code requirements. The final inspection, likely won't take place until after the show is taped.
"With them transforming the community, we want to make sure it's OK with the neighbors and structurally sound," City Manager Mike Sedell said. "If they're going to leave it here, it has to be safe and compatible with what the neighbors want to see."