Texan Couples Together in Business: Chelle and David J. Neff, Weird Homes Tour Founders

by Gracie Watt on October 1, 2020 in Lifestyle, Living Texas, Austin,
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Bringing you the wacky, wonderful and especially the weird, Chelle and David J. Neff, co-founders of Weird Homes Tour, give the world an inside look into some of the unique places people call home.

Since 2014, the couple has been offering the Weird Homes Tour in Austin, TX, and they now also thrive in Houston, Portland, San Francisco, Detroit and New Orleans—plus they’re looking at expanding their tours to Brooklyn and San Antonio. Although their empire is quickly spreading, Austin holds a special place in the energetic pair’s heart, since it’s where they live. So, although the Neffs are no strangers to giving some of the weirdest tours out there, this year they chose Austin for their first virtual tour.

Despite the challenges 2020 threw at them, they offered eight virtual home tours and sold over 1,000 tickets. David, of course, could not pick a favorite home from this year’s virtual tours, but he did have a few favorite moments from the event. “One of our hosts, Ross Herosian, jumping in the Aqua House’s pool unprompted was definitely a highlight.” David acknowledges his gratitude for fellow co-hosts Ross and Sylba Loren. “This business also wouldn’t exist without Kevin Shaw, our managing director,” David says. 

As you browse the 100+ homes on their site, you will see that Weird Homes Tour rejects cookie cutter design and architecture and embraces the wonderfulness of weird, like the Giraffe House, full of hundreds of plush giraffes. Photo Thanin Viriyaki Photography

Chelle has a few favorite takeaways from this year’s wacky tours as well, such as the opportunity to be inside one of the homes and interviewing the owners. “Each owner could tell a story about the home, the decor, and even some of their pets! You felt like you connected to the house on a whole other level.” 

This couple is a prime example of go-getters, and Weird Homes Tour’s origin story is proof of that. The Neffs were strolling in their neighborhood when they spotted a home that looked like the Alamo. That house inspired them to seek out tours of unique homes. When their searches came up empty, they had the idea the very next week to just do it themselves. 

A story even sweeter than that is the one of how the couple met. It was 2012, and Chelle claims to have “given up on dating,” when a friend of hers tagged her in a Twitter post about a person selling their horror DVDs. That person was David.

The world’s preeminent occult archeologist and collector of spirit communication artifacts, Brandon Hodge, lives in Austin at the Home of the Mysterious Planchette. Photo Thanin Viriyaki Photography

Chelle picked the DVDs up from his porch and they didn’t even meet. It wasn’t until a few days later when David tweeted at her asking if she was enjoying them, and impressed her with his horror movie knowledge, that they began talking. David said he wanted to interview her for a book he was writing on entrepreneurship and asked if they could meet. The two hit it off, and it wasn’t until three months into dating that David let Chelle in on the secret. There never was a book—-he just wanted to get to know her.   

Since then, they have found a way to balance their work and relationship, and continue to bond over an extreme love of scary movies, heavy metal, and all things Halloween. When asked about working with his life partner, David says, “I love it. We have our own things and come together to do good work, and we’re empathetic towards each other.” 

Advice that Chelle offers for those thinking about working with their significant other is to “know your strengths, divvy up tasks and let each person handle what best matches their talents.” She also believes that it’s “important to give yourself alone time to work on the business and then come together and collaborate.” And of course, don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help.

“Austin, our hometown, is an expensive place to live. As are Houston, NOLA, Portland, and Detroit. And increasingly the amazing, creative, artistic folks that live in our homes can’t afford them. We want to fight that battle and change the notion of what affordable housing looks like,” say Chelle and David Neff.
Photo Thanin Viriyaki Photography

Weird Homes Tour does not only offer people a rare opportunity to see inside that wackiest homes, but they also give back. The organization is a social impact startup, and this year they were able to donate $800 to Austin-based affordable housing organization Lifeworks. In Portland, they donate to Central City Concern

The eight homes on this year’s virtual tour in Austin were the Tiny Treehouse Oasis, Pop Culture Home, Home of the Mysterious Planchette, Aqua House, Sand Dollar House, Giraffe House, Indra’s Aware House and the Bartlett Bank House. And, for all who yearn for a weird home of their own, good news—the Sand Dollar House is for sale.

You can get a look inside Weird Homes Tour via their YouTube channel, and you can also buy their best-selling coffee book which highlights homes in Austin that are gone and can never be seen again except through the book. Also, if you know anyone who has a weird home they would be willing to give a tour of, please reach out to Weird Homes Tour

Cover photo courtesy Thanin Viriyaki Photography

Gracie Watt is an Editorial Intern at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and a junior at St. Edward’s University in Austin, studying Journalism. When she’s not writing, Watt enjoys singing, playing the guitar and doing volunteer work. @gracie.whatt