8 Homes Made From Non-Traditional Materials

There are those who complain our society is too wasteful and those that do something about it –in some cases, going so far as to make what is essentially trash into their home. In most cases, this odd method of recycling even ends up being cheaper than it would be to create an entirely new structure. Here are a few of our favorites.

Tracy Island

Once a lime works and water-softening treatment plant that closed down in 1942, Tracy Island is now a stunning six-bedroom, six-bath home after undergoing a $2.5 million remodel. Amazingly though, the owners are reselling it uncompleted for $3.3 million, claiming it just needs about $800,000 more work to complete.

No word on what still needs to be done, but as it stands, the five-storey home features a roof-top swimming pool, a three-storey dining room, a gym, a theater, a library, an office, an underground garage and two kitchens. Additionally, the six-acre property features a small forest that blooms rampant with bluebells in the spring.

601 Dolores Street

Once the Golden Gate Lutheran Church, this 17,000 square foot Gothic Revival style building is now one of the largest and most unique homes in San Francisco. The 1910 structure features gorgeous soaring ceilings that are hand-painted, original stained glass windows, four fireplaces, a newly remodeled kitchen, a six-car garage and a tower meditation room that offers 360 degree views of the famous Dolores Park next door. The master suit offers a marble Roman tub room and a dressing room, while the expansive ground floor is wide open and spacious, offering any resident willing to pay $7.5 million for the property unlimited options for their living space.

747 Wing House

Architect David Randall Hertz began to design the home with a curved ceiling when he realized the shape reminded him of airplane wings. He then convinced the client to purchase a Boeing 747 that had to be disassembled and transported via helicopter to the hillside property.

Aside from using the wings for the roof, the structure also incorporates two stabilizers from the plane and future structures planned for the property will use the fuselage, the first class cabin deck, the cargo hold and the front of the plane.

Fire Patrol No. 2 

When the news went out in 2010 that the 1906 firehouse on 84 West 3rd Street was going to be put up for sale, preservationists, particularly the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, immediately started fretting that the beautiful building would be destroyed. Fortunately, CNN’s Anderson Cooper ended up being the buyer of the property and promised everyone that he was planning to keep all of the historical details intact.

While there aren’t many public photos of the interior remodel by architect Cary Tamarkin, the exterior changes look fantastic as Cooper had the paint stripped off the building to reveal the stunning natural bricks and sculptures originally on the building. Anderson has assured everyone that he is keeping the famous poles inside the building as well and that he is turning the gym into a classic 1906-styled workout area.

Clocktower Building Tower

Originally a cardboard box factory in 1915, the Brooklyn Clocktower Building was converted into housing at some point. While we’re sure all of the properties are lovely, the three-storey, three-bedroom penthouse that takes up the entire tower of the structure is by far the most amazing. Measuring over 6,800 feet with 14-foot glass clocks on each wall of the top floor, the penthouse offers unparalleled views of Manhattan, Brooklyn and even the Statue of Liberty.

Unsurprisingly, this type of luxury doesn’t come cheap and the penthouse is the most expensive in all of Brooklyn, going for a cool $18 million –down from the $25 million asking price the owners originally listed the property for in 2009.


Grain silos are an all too common sight in the Midwest, but this stunning silo house by Gigiplex Architects is something truly special. The cozy home was designed for a single man who wanted ample space for his grandchildren to visit. The silos not only provide for unique, circular home décor, but they are also eco-friendly staying warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

One-Log House

There are plenty of homes out there made from wood, but this might be the only one made from only one hollowed out tree. Made from one single redwood tree in 1946, it took two men eight months to carve out a 7 foot tall and 32 foot long room space in the middle. The interior was shaped to house a living room, a dining room and bedroom area. The house was built on wheels because creator Art Schmock intended to take his new home on tour across the country, but the tree ended up being too big for that.

These days, the One-Log House is a popular tourist attraction situated on the edge of the Humboldt and Mendocino county lines.

Paper House

Many claim print is dead, but the Paper House shows there’s always a place for newspaper –even if it’s only as a building material. Elis F. Stenman constructed the Paper House in 1922 using wooden supports, a wooden roof and wooden floors, and intending to use newspaper as the insulation. After using glue and varnish to hold the paper together though, Stenman started to wonder how long the newspaper could survive, so he decided to leave it open to the elements.

After seeing that the house was holding up pretty well, he then started constructing furniture from newspaper as well. The home even features a paper-covered piano, a brick fireplace, running water and electricity. Over the years, extra layers of varnish have been added to the outside, but the inside remains largely the same so you can even still read the papers.

If you love the eco-friendliness of these ideas but aren’t in the market to build yourself a new home out of something that already exists, here are a few ways you can make your existing home a little more friendly to the planet instead.

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8 Homes Made From Non-Traditional Materials