Ever the free-spirited gypsy, Leda Livant left her husband decades ago for an artist 10 years her junior. She met Michael Kahn while vacationing with her husband in Cape Cod. That meeting, she said, “changed my life forever.” Leda and Michael moved to Cornville, Arizona and began building Eliphante, even though they didn’t own the property. Since then, they’ve made astonishing artwork that has caught the attention of the likes of the Smithsonian Institute and New York Times.
Can you guess where the home’s name came from? The entryway’s trunk started the whole thing. Each item the couple found along the way added to the finished project. Eliphante was created completely from repurposed materials around the compound of Hippodome (told you the elephant trunk got them going).
Leda and Michael have all the amenities. Well, except a bath and toilet. They have electricity, water, heat for those chilly evenings and a phone to stay in touch.
When Leda used to walk the property carpeted with recycled AstroTurf from a local tennis court, she remembers thinking it was “terribly artificial.” Now, she appreciates the color it adds to the landscape, as well as the dust control.
The living space is adorned with stained glass windows, a piano built into a wall of driftwood, and mosaics Leda made from her mother’s jewelry.
The kitchen countertops contour to the walls around them, sharing the natural curves of the earth. Skylights let in ample light to illuminate the room’s mottled hues.
Back outdoors, coffee cups hang on a tree in the compound’s summertime kitchen. There’s a table for dining and creative touches are plentiful outside as well.
The grounds even come with water access. On the creek’s low days, the entryway can accommodate a brawny vehicle. Otherwise, the only way to visit Leda and Michael is by canoe.
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