These homeowners take recycling to the next level by living in recycled homes.
Converting airplanes, water towers, even satellite stations into living spaces is no easy task, but it’s done all the time around the country. By salvaging these otherwise unusable spaces, unique homes are created frequently for a lot less than buying new.
From churches to missile silos to fire houses, here are nine of the best (and, sometimes, most strange) home conversions out there.
Despite their humble beginnings, barn conversions are some of the more expensive home conversions out there, mostly because the barn is just a shell, so an extensive amount of work must go into making the space a true home. This home in Bryn Mawr, Pa. utilizes the exposed barn beams and rough-hewn hardwood floors. But its windowed entryway, four bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, built-in bookcases and gourmet kitchen make it feel more modern.
Most converted water tower homes are located in Europe, but there are a few in the U.S. including this one in Sunset Beach, Calif. The home offers a 360-degree view of the mountains and the ocean and has an aquarium desk, circular fire pit, dance floor and Jacuzzi. The home is now featured as a special vacation rental — for $600 a night.
Warehouses or factories
What may be the oldest home conversion trend, the warehouse or factory conversion is fairly common in cities around the country. The Oriental Warehouse Loft building, in San Francisco’s South Beach neighborhood, added beautiful, modern spaces into an old warehouse while keeping many of the industrial details intact and the exterior untouched. The building offers units with one to three bedrooms priced at just under $1 million.
Fire station conversions are fairly common. Fire departments frequently outgrow their old stations as their communities (and even the size of their fire engines) grow, leaving behind a historic building with plenty of space. This 2,500-square-foot San Francisco home, worth nearly $2 million, was converted from a fire house, but it retained much of the original look including the “Commercial Fire Dispatch” sign and the front garage doors.
Believe it or not, this converted commercial airplane home isn’t the only one of its kind in the nation. JoAnn Ussery’s Benoit, Miss. home was destroyed in an ice storm and instead of rebuilding it, she purchased a salvaged Continental Airlines Boeing 727 for $2,000 and over four months, converted it into a 127-foot-long home for about $30,000 in the mid-1990s. The home has three bedrooms, a living/dining room, kitchen, laundry area and a master bathroom with Jacuzzi in the cockpit area. She’s joined in her aviation love by Oregonian Bruce Campbell, who lives in a Boeing 727, and Californian Francie Rehwald, who converted a Boeing 747 into a home in Malibu.
Houseboats are nothing unique, but a houseboat that no longer functions as a boat is a rare find. Nonetheless, ingenious homeowners across the country have salvaged old boats and turned them into homes. Some are just houseboats, stuck on land while others, such as the Benson Ford in Put-In-Bay, Ohio, are converted from a real boat. The boat was stripped of its engine and settled into an island in Lake Erie. It has a six bedrooms, sitting room, living room, dining room, kitchen bar area, garage and laundry room over four floors.
Branching off from the small home movement, converting shipping containers into homes or offices has become a bona fide movement. Whether using just one or dozens of stacked shipping containers, designers and architects around the country have transformed these humble vessels into elaborate homes. This home in Flagstaff, Ariz., used five recycled ocean-going shipping containers in a crisscross pattern that opens to an atrium space.
Old brick schools have become a popular residential conversion lately. Through population shifts, budget cuts or rebuilding efforts, thousands of schools across the country are shut down and left abandoned. Savvy developers have bought up these buildings for their strong bones and converted them to artists’ lofts, apartments and condo buildings. The Oak Street School Lofts in Buffalo, N.Y. feature one-bedroom apartments, including the original chalkboards, though they have been painted over.
Old government buildings
Decommissioned missile silos, former army barracks and even old prisons have been converted into homes, apartments or hotels, but perhaps the most unusual government building conversion is the Jamesburg Earth Station in Carmel Valley, Calif. The satellite dish, originally commissioned by the Kennedy administration to send and receive messages from space during the Apollo 11 moon landing, was converted into a 21,000-square-foot home in the mid-2000s.