9 Homes That Were Once Entirely Different Things

published Oct 23, 2018
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(Image credit: Carina Romano)

The history behind homes can be just as interesting as the people and designs presently occupying them. And perhaps no more so than the homes of those who live in buildings that used to be for entirely different purposes other than living. From garages, to schools, to factories, all of these nine homes have something in common: These structures once housed much different activities than the ones happening in them today!

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

Robin and Steve’s condo in a former elementary school is a playful convergence of colors and textures. It’s an ode to surf, sand, and sun. But it wasn’t always that way. They purchased the condo pre-construction almost a decade ago, when the developer was still in the process of converting the school into residences.

(Image credit: Samara Vise)

“With both of us working in the architecture and design industry, we are immersed in design every day. The extra-large windows and bones of this converted schoolhouse were our biggest source of inspiration in the space. We aimed to fill the walls with interesting art and keep the furniture profiles low to make sure the windows were the focal point.”

(Image credit: Jessica Rapp)

Will and Iona Harvey’s modernly colorful and whimsically decorated flat in Leith, a district to the north of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, is dotted with references to school: A vintage school desk and chair serve as office furniture in their living room, while a seat meant for a small student sits in the bedroom. It’s no accident—their home of more than three years was likely a classroom decades ago, and the façade of their traditional stone building reminds them of this on a daily basis. Theirs is just one of a number of apartments located in a former high school built by architect George Reid in the 1930s.

This Georgia home has history. Built around 1898, Eric and Lori’s house is nestled on three acres of bucolic countryside near the Apalachee River; there’s a babbling creek that they can see from their sleeping porch. Originally a mill house built for the factory workers of the textile mill that was built in High Shoals around 1848, the property has two other buildings: An old carriage house the couple turned into a studio and shop, and an old barn they now use for storage.

(Image credit: Melanie Rieders)

The Santee Building in downtown Los Angeles was granted historic landmark status in 2001. The former textile factory-turned-modern loft building is now home to Sandy and her fiancé Mike; they’ve lived here for about two years with their friendly labsky (labrador husky mix) Bowie.

(Image credit: Carina Romano)

Liz resides in a natural-light filled loft space that was originally part of an old textile factory in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philadelphia. From the skylight in her lofted bedroom there’s access to the building’s roof, where she has spectacular views of both Center City Philadelphia to the southwest and the Ben Franklin Bridge to the east. Northern Liberties was a textile manufacturing mecca in its heyday, and though not used for that original purpose now, the architecture and stories behind the old warehouses still remain.

(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

This home was being used as an auto shop when Darien and Matt first came across it two years ago. What started as a pipe dream soon became a viable option for a living space that eliminated the need for additional storage to house Matt’s car collection. They pulled the trigger on taking over the lease and have since transformed the space into a gorgeous multipurpose home that is perfect for entertaining, which they love to do.

(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Rebekah and Alex (plus their three dogs!) share a 200-square-foot converted 1905 garage they’ve lived in for nearly two and a half years. Though they’re both native to Oregon state, they’ve lived in the Bay Area at different points in their lives and always felt a connection to Berkeley. When they realized the garage in Rebekah’s grandma’s backyard wasn’t being put to much use, they asked themselves (and grandma, of course) if it had the potential to become a home. Months later, they embarked on their most laborious DIY project ever, but as Rebekah says, “The best things come to those who wait.”

(Image credit: Jeff Jones)

You may recognize this couple from season three of HGTV’s Fixer Upper. After living in their Fixer Upper home for over a year, Sara decided to go back to school for nutrition… and it forced the couple to get creative with their finances. After careful consideration, Jeff and Sara decided it would be a more purposeful use of the house to rent it out… and to convert their two-car garage (which they weren’t using) into a tiny home to live in, instead.

See even more homes carved out of buildings originally intended for another purpose → Holy Homes: Inside Houses That Used to Be Churches

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)