Bowling Ball House, Safety Harbor in Tampa Bay, Florida

The House That Bowling Balls Built

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Pyramid of 200 painted bowling balls are stacked in the front yard of “Whimzy,” home of artists Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda

Everywhere I went in the small village of Safety Harbor, Florida, people told me the same thing: “You have to see the bowling ball house.” It was easy to find, but even without directions it would have been hard to miss the pyramid of 200 bowling balls stacked on the front lawn. Fascinated, I walked around the corner lot. Crazy quilt pathways of multi-colored ceramic tiles wound through grounds where bowling balls lined garden beds, balanced on pillars, and peeked out from beneath jungle vegetation. Even the mailbox sat on a stack of bowling balls.

A creation of husband and wife artists Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda, “Whimzey” began when Kiaralinda saw a single bowling ball decorating the cactus garden in front of a house. “I thought it was a neat idea, but I wanted more.” Not long afterward, she spotted a rack of bowling balls at a flea market. “The sign said: ’10 free bowling balls per person.’ In those days we were driving some little car that could barely fit two people, but we crammed it with 40 free bowling balls.”

When Todd and Kiaralinda set up an outdoor table and began painting the balls, neighbors wandered over to see what was going on. “Kids started asking if they could paint a bowling ball, so we gave them all brushes and let them go,” said Todd. Before long, people began dropping off old bowling balls to be used in the design. Wondering what to do with the surplus, they invited artist friends to paint a bowling ball. To their surprise, many accepted the offer; these creations, affectionately dubbed the Bowling Ball Art Museum, are displayed in a detached shed at the rear of the property.

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Bowling Ball Art Museum features the work of fellow artists

I wandered the grounds, finding delightful surprises every few feet. Whimsical animal yard sculptures created the “Whimzoo” and a curtain of hanging beads surrounded a seating area tucked into the lush vegetation. Low walls around flower beds were constructed of emerald green glass bottles, while cobalt blue bottles were turned upside-down on a coat-rack contraption, creating a vivid glass sunburst. At the rear of the property, an elevated gazebo painted in riotous colors was decorated with the duo’s personal wire sculpture art.

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Paths lead through gardens to a rear gazebo, surrounded by sculpture art

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Artists Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda

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Sculpture art, lush jungle landscaping, and a multi-colored gingerbread house

As the outdoor decor emerged, the house began to change. “It sort of evolved with the bowling balls,” said Kiaralinda. Originally two-tone, it gradually morphed into a phantasmagorical multi-colored gingerbread cottage with every surface painted a different color. Along the way, the couple purchased other houses in the neighborhood and began transforming them as well. Casa Loco, directly across the street from Whimzey, has a Mexican theme, while Tiki-Tiki is Hawaiian and Cabana Bay has a Caribbean decor. Even the neighbors have embraced the concept; several have asked Todd and Kiaralinda to help create themes for their homes.

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Even the mailbox stands on bowling balls

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One of several seating areas tucked into the lushly landscaped grounds

The interior of “Whimzey” can only be seen once per year, when the artists open their doors to the public as a charity fund raiser. However visitors are welcome to walk the grounds of “Whimzey” and stroll around “Whimzeyland” any time of the year. To find this neighborhood of quirky homes, travel south on Main Street from downtown Safety Harbor, cross the railroad tracks, and turn right on 12th Avenue N. “Whimzey” is on the corner of 12th Ave. N and 3rd Street. Safety Harbor lies at the head of Old Tampa Bay, surrounded by the major cities of Clearwater and Tampa.

20 Comments on “The House That Bowling Balls Built

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  2. so, exactly when is this : ” The interior of “Whimzey” can only be seen once per year, when the
    artists open their doors to the public as a charity fund raiser.” Atnd Renate Gray – YES, YOU CAN… I have made two trips east since being widowed but did not make it to Florida-so it is definitely on my “bucket list” . I would love to make the trip to include seeing this house :)

    • Hi Melanie: I have no idea of the exact date and I believe it changes each year. Best to contact the local Chamber of Commerce and see if they can give you a date.

  3. So that’s where my Mom’s blue bowling ball went. Recycled into a beautiful work of art.

  4. I have actually been to this house.  What talent these 2 have!  The colors, the art, all of it was astounding! But its not just about the bowling balls at all, for me it was about the passion that went into this art! Kudos folks, kudos!!!

  5. Oh my gosh I want to come visit in the fall. Saw this house on an old series on HGTV. So cool and so much fun that you’ve done it together.

  6. Barb,

    so excited to have found your blog. It started with the Baja Ferries article. I was interested because I live in Mazatlan and have contemplated a trip up the Baja, taking the Ferry across. Then it really got interesting when I found the article about Kirialinda and Todd in Safety Harbor. That’s where I’m from originally and lived right across McMullen Road from Safety Harbor. What a small world. Have a lot of catching up to do on your blog, but already can tell it will become my favorite. Having recently been widowed, you are giving me hope that I TOO can travel the world on my own. Thanks for the inspiration. Renate

    • Hi Renate! Wow, it really is a small world, isn’t it. So glad you kike my blog, but am delighted that I have been an inspiration to you with regards to travel. You CAN do it alone. There is nothing to be afraid of out here. The world is a wonderful place. Thanks for reading and taking the time to leave me a comment – helps a lot to know there are people like you who actually read what I write.

  7. I used to be a bowler but since my stroke can no longer bowl. I think this is so unique and will bring my brother from Illinois during the holiday.

  8. Wow – that is right up my alley – I read about them in a book. But there was very little text and your photos are much more telling. I love that place!

  9. I love that they have taken their festive and artistic talents and expressed them in and around their home!
    What a colorful couple, I would love to meet them!

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  11. Barb – Once again “going off the beaten path” has resulted in a great story and awesome photos!

  12. That is so cool! I want to do that to my yard, but I think some neighbors might object.

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