Welcome to another chapter in our Hypedome Stories, where we spotlight the inventive ways our customers use their domes. Today, we’re visiting Cece Chen, a medical English teacher with a knack for DIY projects. Her story isn’t just about discovering tranquility but transforming it into a space that truly reflects her creativity.
Q: Can you share a snapshot of your journey and the passions that have shaped your current lifestyle?
Cece: Today, I’m an online teacher, primarily teaching medical English to Chinese doctors. At 48, I’ve pretty much retired from a medical career, living on a passive income and focusing on activities that bring me joy, instead of typical work. My diagnosis with lupus was a turning point, teaching me to cherish each moment. After all, what’s the use of wealth if you don’t have the time to enjoy it?
Q: Did your zest for life inspire creating a garden dome retreat?
Cece: Exactly! I came across the dome idea on Facebook. I’ve always been fascinated by geodesic domes, and this just clicked. The decision to set it up in my backyard came naturally, especially in a corner that needed a makeover. I got really into researching and talking to the Hypedome team, and that’s where my dome journey took off.
The interior of my backyard dome is cozy and welcoming, decked out with carpeting, cane bamboo furniture, a hammock, and a red/gray theme. I’ve got a bunch of houseplants, some dangling gracefully from the dome’s ‘ceiling’, making it feel as comfy, if not cozier, than any room in my house.
The smart lighting system is a highlight for me. It creates a wonderful ambiance, perfectly complementing my Hypedome S Opal panels. This combination enhances Hypedome’s overall atmosphere, making it a favorite space for both me and my two basset hounds – they love it as much as I do!
Q: How has the dome transformed your backyard experience and daily life?
Cece: While it’s been a great spot for hosting friends and a nifty outdoor office, its true essence for me is as a personal retreat – my own ‘she shed’ for unwinding. I find myself napping here and watching TV more often than inside my actual house. It’s a magical blend of outdoor and indoor spaces, redefining what each can mean.
Before the dome, I rarely made use of my backyard, mainly due to my sensitivity to sunlight and insects because of lupus. But now, these concerns are things of the past. I venture out here every day for hours, embracing the outdoors in all seasons without any fear.
Q: Living in New Jersey, do you encounter strong winds or extreme weather? How does the dome hold up in such conditions?
Cece: Oh yes, here in the Mid-Atlantic region of the USA, near New England, we do experience some harsh weather, including strong winds. Recently, the wind was so intense it tossed around small furniture, but the dome stood firm. Before purchasing, my main concern was its durability, and it has certainly met my expectations.
Q: Your creativity and skill in crafting are quite remarkable. Can you share more about your DIY projects and hobbies?
Cece: Absolutely, I’m a bit of an artist and crafter. I have a passion for rare plants. I’ve set up plant cabinets in my house and help moderate a group where I teach people how to create them. Some of these plants are exotic and valuable, and I grow and sell them on Instagram (@Rare_Plant_Haven here). I’ve designed a homemade hydroponic system using aquarium equipment, for more efficient maintenance. I’m really into experimenting with DIY projects.
Q: Your dome is adorned with some fantastic decorations. Could you tell us how you created them?
Cece: Sure! For the snowman decoration, I used dinner plates to trace circles on stick-on blackout window vinyl, easily available online and applied it to the panels. The red tarp with a cheerleader’s pom-pom makes up the hat. I used super strong suction cups, typically for bathrooms, to attach decorations since there are no screws on the outside. These suction cups are really effective, even for heavier items.
I also used the vinyl to create a pumpkin face for Halloween, and it worked great with my lighting system shining through Hypedome’s Opal panels. I like seasonal decorations and adding some fun to my backyard.
Q: Along with decor, you’ve also made some impressive DIY additions to the dome.
Cece: Since getting the dome, I’ve been busy giving it a personal touch with some DIY projects. I’ve added handy velcro screens to the windows, installed a magnetic mosquito net on the door (which ensures easy access) and even created a DIY ‘skylight’ with a clear panel and one-way mirror vinyl. To keep things cool in summer, I added solar fans, and for the winter, I made my own clear vinyl panels for see-through insulation. I opted for a professional electrician to set up a dedicated power line and outlets in the dome. This was mainly because I use quite a few devices out there, like WiFi, Alexa TV, an air conditioner, and a heater out there for extreme weather. It’s a tailored solution for my specific needs, ensuring everything runs safely and smoothly.
These DIY upgrades are not only practical; they let me inject a bit of my own creativity into the space. It’s fantastic how the dome can become a unique expression of oneself. Visitors are always impressed by its uniqueness – it’s not something you see every day, but maybe it’s an idea that will catch on!
Q: It's quite inspiring that you and your 75-year-old mom assembled the dome together. Can you share more about that experience?
Cece: Yes, my mom and I tackled the assembly together. My mom is incredibly supportive and still quite able-bodied. It took us about two to three days, including the floor installation. Despite some challenging moments and our physical limitations – my arthritis from lupus and our limited energy – we did it. There were repetitive tasks, but nothing required extraordinary strength or expertise. We were concerned about reaching the roof but managed just fine. Of course, it was a bit tiring for us but doable. And I believe if we could do it, anyone could.
Q: Would you say the dome caters to your lifestyle?
Cece: Hypedome is a perfect fit for me! Its full enclosure protects me from direct sunlight and insects. It’s become my main hangout spot, even in the rain. This space really aligns with my comfort needs and I love it!
Cece Chen’s journey with her Hypedome is a testament to the power of creativity and personalization. From her ingenious DIY modifications to her dedication in crafting a space that caters to her health and comfort, Cece’s dome is more than just a structure; it’s a reflection of her way of enjoying life more.