Cookie-cutter houses are so last century. Houses made from repurposed materials break the mold with their unique take on recycling, turning landfill-worthy scraps into luscious dwellings of diverse styles. Recycled homes run the gamut from petite abodes to palatial post-consumer-product creations, causing passersby to do a double-take as they figure out the secrets of these crafty constructions.
9. Lakeside Shiphouse
Benson Ford Shiphouse
Your eyes haven't deceived you. The Benson Ford Shiphouse juts out over the cliff on one of Lake Erie's islands, much to the surprise of passing boaters. The 1924 ship originally owned by Ford Motor Company once hauled vehicles through the Great Lakes. The salvaged forecastle (or top section) serves as a current 5-bedroom, 5-bathroom house.
8. Eco-Friendly Earthship
The ultimate in eco-friendly living, this Earthship is designed to minimize reliance on utility companies. Cooling tubes and exterior walls made from old tires packed with dirt keep costs to a minimum in this home near Taos, New Mexico -- its manufacturer, Earthship Biotecture, guarantees utility bills of less than $100 per year. Colorful glass bottles create a stained-glass effect on one wall. A greenhouse attached to the home purifies the air.
7. Swanky Monte-Silo
Two connected grain silos comprise this Woodland, Utah home designed by Gigaplex Architects. The house is arranged such that a nearby river can be clearly seen and heard from the larger of the two silos to capitalize on the beautiful, natural environment. South-facing windows allow plenty of daylight into the home while adding passive solar heat during the winter.
6. Chic Chilean Cottage
Juan Luis Martínez Nahuel
Scrap building materials comprise this cottage in Chile, built by Juan Luis Martínez Nahuel. Beams and steel from a temporary exhibition serve as framework for the home, while old patio doors and 1970s parquet flooring cover the structure. This lofty home is perched atop a wooded hillside, capitalizing on the view of the natural environment, as well as privacy.
5. Stunning Shipping Container Beach House
De Maria Design Associates, Inc.
This Redondo Beach home began as a recycled steel shipping container. As a rustproof, fireproof and termite-proof structure, this beautiful space inspired an entire housing line based on upcycled shipping-container construction. De Maria Design Associates created this home to develop a kit-style, cost-effective system for home building.
4. Cozy Cob Cottage
This fairytale home is built entirely from natural and unwanted materials using ancient building techniques. Sand, straw, clay and soil comprise most of the cob house, including its thatched roof; reclaimed windows and castoff materials make up the rest. As an ultimate recycling project, this home built by farmer Michael Buck cost less than $300 to build, and only because he had to purchase some of the straw and nails to complete the roof.
3. Castle of Castoffs
While the Junk Castle looks like something out of a cartoon, it is a real-life abode, built by high-school teacher Vic Moore for his Master of Fine Arts thesis project. The entire structure is built from scrap material collected from a county dump, including appliance parts, car doors and metal storage drums.
2. Modern Scrap Home
Scrapped materials from industrial machinery to broken umbrellas and billboards serve as building supplies for this home in the Netherlands, built by architects Jan Jongert and Jeroen Bergsma. The dynamic duo estimates that the home contains 90 percent repurposed materials, including items used for its interior.
1. Former Missile Silo Underground Abode
If underground living suits your tastes, a former missile silo provides all the home space you'll need, complete with a decoy house above ground. This upstate New York missile silo, decommissioned in 1965, offers more than 3,000 square feet of below-ground living space, accessed from a stairwell hidden in a closet in the house above ground.
- Mark Seelen