Curve appeal
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A well-rounded genius

On the outside, the Shell House in Pasadena looks like a mud cake. Inside, it has high ceilings, a futuristic design and an open floor plan. (Richard Hartog / LAT)
Steve and Sari Roden, drawn to the futuristic look, bought the 1946 house for $260,000 in 1998. (Richard Hartog / LAT)
Architect Wallace Neff saw the dome and “honeymoon cottage” as affordable, well-designed housing. (Richard Hartog / LAT)
Architect Wallace Neff He said he was “possessed by the thought that there should be a demand for small homes of real charm within the reach of people of limited means.” (Huntington Library)
Neff began building domed concrete structures, which he would call “airform construction,” in 1941. It required inflating a giant, rubber-coated balloon and spraying it with gunite. (Richard Hartog / LAT)
The Rodens used vintage Neff pieces that came with the house, such as the sectional sofa recently re-covered in red wool. (Richard Hartog / LAT)