Unexpected Buildings Architects Turned Into Homes

Unexpected Buildings Architects Turned Into Homes

When buying a home most of us consider residential neighborhoods with traditional homes. Few would consider the idea of converting nonresidential structures into homes but there are those who are more adventurous. The range of unusual structures is broad; from grain silos to old fire towers architects have stretched their imaginations to create truly unique homes.


1. Airplanes

Boarding an airplane, one expects to travel somewhere. No one expects a plane to remain firmly on the ground or to be home to its owner. In Benoit Miss., after an ice storm destroyed her home, Joanne Ussery along with the encouragement of her cousin, took a decommissioned 727 and converted it. With an investment of thirty thousand dollars, it was more cost effective for her than rebuilding her former home and it would be more durable over the long haul. Others have spent millions converting old 747’s into unique homes complete with meditation rooms and lofts. 


2. Churches

The historical architecture, voluminous ceilings, and stained glass windows are all great features of older churches. As congregations abandon these beautiful structures, creative homeowners step in to convert the space into amazing homes. The wide-open floor plans offer the chance to create modern designs in these historic buildings. 


3. Boats

The idea of living on a houseboat, docked in a harbor, has great appeal for some. The idea of taking a boat out of the water and creating a home on dry land with it is more novel. An Ohio couple did just that, when they salvaged the quarters of the Benson Ford, a ship once owned by Henry Ford and used to ship cars across the Great Lakes. The ship’s interior had beautiful walnut paneled staterooms, a dining room and galley. Recognizing the value of the architectural details, they removed the cabin from the rest of the ship, floated it to a lot on an island and converted it into private residence. 


4. Grain Silos

Imagine walking into a round structure with a peaked roof and looking up. Then imagine living in it. Many of these grain silos stand empty and are sold or torn down. To save them from the scrap heap ingenious architects and designers are converting them into fabulous homes. They are cost effective, environmentally friendly and low maintenance. Some who have the pleasure of calling these unique structures home say the interior shape can be inspirational and soothing. 


5. Shipping Containers

People have been converting these boxes of steel into living spaces for years, by outfitting a single box into very small homes. Architects and designers are grabbing onto the concept of using these in more modular ways. Turning a shipping container into a home takes some creativity. It is a very small space, measuring just eight feet wide and up to twenty feet long with walls made of heavy steel. Multiple boxes can be stacked to create apartments, or welded together to create larger square footage homes. 


6. Post Offices

Thirty seven hundred old brick Post offices will close in the coming years. Many of them are beautiful structures worthy of being recycled. Across the country, old post offices have new lives as office spaces, restaurants, and art galleries. In Paintsville Kentucky, their colonial revival style Post office underwent renovations turning it into a unique home with a lot of character. It took a bit of vision and dedication to restoring a bit of history. 


7. Firehouses

Just like old Post Offices, older firehouses are closing down and structures left standing. A little imagination, money and a desire to be atypical is all it takes to turn one of these into an amazing home with character. The open floor plan, high ceilings, and unique details help transform the commercial spaces into one of kind residences. 


8. Old Barns

Old barns dot the landscape in New England, most are abandoned and some have poor structural quality from years of neglect. The rare barn that has kept its solid bone structure can find new life as a home. The exposed beams can become interesting architectural features; the old lofts reinforced to create a second floor. The possibilities are endless with an interior blank canvas and high ceilings.


9. Old Schools

Quaint old brick school buildings are a popular commercial space to be converted. They have the architectural details not found in modern buildings and offer sturdy construction that can easily be adapted to suit most tastes. Their openness tends to favors modern design with tall ceilings and big windows, creating a perfect juxtaposition of old and new. 


10. Fire Towers

Fire towers once manned to watch for forest fires have found new life as weekend mountain retreats. Already built to withstand wind, rain and snow it takes very little to convert a fire tower into a place to getaway form it all. The rugged tall structures that look out at the valleys below give a newly converted home the feeling of an open tree house. 

By turning these unexpected buildings into homes architects and creative homeowners have saved old historic buildings from decay, given new life to beautiful boats, and found unique uses for retired airplanes and grain silos. If you could choose to live in something unexpected, what would it be?

Joe Barrett



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