Unique Converted Homes

Warehouses, factories, barns, and churches are commonly repurposed into residences, but for the adventurous buyer with a budget for renovation, no structure is off limits as a potential home.

Underground missile silos that have been upcycled into residences have gotten plenty of play in the media, but those smack of refuges from zombie apocalypse. An almost endless supply of innovative converted homes exist that are more inspirational (not to mention blessed with natural daylight and views).

Read on to see ten such older structures that have been re-imagined into homes.

Slideshow: Unique Converted Homes

Trolley Garage/Firehouse
Location: Philadelphia, Penn., USA
Architect: OnionFlats

In 2007 this structure, which started out as a trolley maintenance garage, then became a firehouse, was transformed to its third identity as home. The 5,000 square-foot space now features an observation deck over the living room, reclaimed lumber, and the attic was opened into a mezzanine.

Location: Philadelphia, Penn., USA
Architect: OnionFlats

For 80 years, this was the site of Capital Meats, a meat packing plant. In 1999, the seven crumbling structures began their transformation into Capital Flats, comprising eight residential dwellings. Capital Flats is just one of countless factories, plants, and industrial spaces everywhere that have been transformed into single-and multi-family dwellings.

Location: Bremen, Germany
Architect: Rainer Mielke

Around 2,000 WWII-era bomb refuges still stand in Germany. Ranier Mielke began transforming them into homes 15 years ago, after passing one every day on his way to work every day sparked the idea. The thick walls of the bunkers (now featuring windows) ensure the homes are cool in the summer and warm in the winter, so in addition to being recycled properties, they’re energy efficient as well.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Architect: BLDGS

Until 1999, Villa de Murph was an unappealing circa-1947 automotive parts warehouse that had stood empty since the owner died seven years earlier. After demolishing much of the building, BLDGs started from the walls, the slab, the rust and and the roof joists, creating a combined studio and home including a private courtyard with fireplace.

Fire Tower
Location: Judith Mountains, Mont., USA
Architect: Prairie Wind Architecture

Old forest fire-spotting towers, now obsolete in the era of aerial observation, are being repurposed as rustic camp-style guest houses and as homes. Note that the Judith Mountain Cabin, pictured here, was commissioned in 1989 by the son of a forester and built to look like a vintage fire tower using recycled materials. This one is more practical than a real tower, without all the climbing (or views) of this astounding fire-tower-style home, which is also in Montana.

Water tower
Location: Soest, Netherlands
Architect: Zecc

This 1931 water tower was converted in 2002 into a nine-level modern private home using steel, concrete and glass, including a three-story window. Many former water towers have become homes, including one recently featured in the New York Times and these others.

Location: Utrecht, Netherlands
Architect: Zecc

This former Catholic Chapel was minimally reconfigured in 2006 into the Living Church, utilizing some of the pews in the kitchen as benches and to make the table. More repurposed houses of the holy can be found here.

Railroad Car
Location: Mercer Island, Wash., USA

Some home-seekers move into former train stations, and one innovative home-remodeler incorporated subway cars into his penthouse apartment in NYC’s West Village, but the Davidsons are way ahead of them all.

For 30 years, they’ve made their home in a 1945 red caboose that sits on rails on 4.25 acres on an island in Lake Washington. Apartment Therapy's tour shows off this charming home's attributes like the picture windows and an 8 by 20 foot deck.

Grain Silo
Location: Woodland, Utah, USA
Architect: Gigaplex

This unusual home on the Provo river is made from adjoining corrugated metal grain silos to form an 1800 square-foot space. It was designed to accommodate a man and his visitors and grandchildren in cubby-like bedroom pods which are equipped with stereo sound and flat screen monitors. Embedded wire mesh heats the floors and the propane stove can be controlled by Internet.

Location: Bainbridge Island, Wash., USA
Architect: Don Frothingham

This former 1905 dairy barn overlooking the Olympic Mountains was adapted into a residence in 1980. At 2400 square feet, it boasts the soaring ceilings you’d expect from a barn, but none of the heat problems, as a new extra-insulated roof was added in the conversion. Other farmyard themed home conversions are made incorporating other farm outbuildings or even using barn ruins.

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