the world at home

12 of the Most Unusual, Unique Homes We’ve Toured Around the World

published Aug 6, 2019
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It’s intoxicating to virtually peer into homes around the globe—both to see what those homes have in common with yours, and to marvel at the differences. A common thread we see, no matter the country or continent, is folks living in unique, one-of-a-kind settings. From a former gazebo-turned-family house, to trams, trains, and mosaic-covered backyards, these are some of the most unique homes around the world we’ve toured.

Claire Plummer’s actual house isn’t all that “weird.” Uniquely beautiful and modern, sure, but still your standard idea of what a house looks like. But her Melbourne home makes the list thanks to the absolutely stunning, one-of-a-kind mosaic mural that spans the length of her backyard… which she made herself! It’s a reminder that you don’t have to live in a train car to have a unique home.

Speaking of train cars… when Angela bought this property in Australia, it came with a one-bedroom shack and this cute tram, and she soon set to work turning the unique structure into a living space. “My goal was to feel as though I was on a holiday while at home. Inspiration came from old caravan parks, scout camps, and the bonfire nights my family and friends used to regularly have when I was a kid. Also the resort in “Dirty Dancing” has been my dream ‘home’ for as long as I can remember.” 

How’s this for unique: this home is literally one of a kind. Packed with history and unique building materials, the space is surprisingly stylish considering its construction origins.

Though it doesn’t look all that different from your typical house on the outside, it’s what’s this home in Western Australia is made of that makes it so unique. From the house tour: “Their home is a study in sustainability; they used rammed earth and locally sourced timber for the external structure of the home and then filled the space with mostly secondhand and repurposed furniture and accessories.”

Credit: Katie Currid

This Italian chef’s apartment functions perfectly thanks to plenty of open storage that shows off his Polish pottery and handmade copper pieces, and the views out the ample windows are beautiful, too. It’s the fact that his home happens to be located in an old Italian castle that makes it worthy of this list. “Lucas’s apartment was originally part of the castle that is connected to the old city wall and fortification tower, and the main area of his apartment makes up the space that originally housed a little girl’s bedroom, hence the gorgeous fresco and chandelier on the ceiling.”

This uniquely shaped dwelling hints at its structural past: It was once a gazebo! “Peter grew up on this land in a home that was built by his father. After the original home burned down, Peter built a small gazebo in its place. When Ali moved to the island from New England, the couple fell in love playing ukulele and drinking coconuts in the structure. As the couple made a life there, the structure grew into a unique, circular-shaped jungle cabin, which continues to evolve with their now family of four.” 

Jeanne Marie doesn’t just live in a home, she lives in a Bali-style tropical compound in the jungle of Hawaii. It’s truly one-of-a-kind. “The space is private and magical with multiple structures, each inviting and bold. There are outdoor showers, outdoor living spaces, indoor bathtubs, and ancient Balinese thatched huts to explore.”

Credit: Katie Currid

Not only is this house made of grain bins (!), but it also only took two and a half years and cost around $80,000 to build. “[M]uch of the building material and fixtures—was sourced from secondhand places like estate sales, auctions, and yep, even dumpsters. The home is a practice in sustainability and frugality and is a DIY dream.”

Roxanne had owned this home for 13 years when two years ago her partner Pascal moved in. They decided to completely renovate the house and with the help of architects and contractors, “they opened up the space in the dining and living areas, added the library section (adjacent to the living room), built the fake stone wall, installed the stucco on the ceiling, and redid the flooring on the first floor. They renovated the kitchen using vinyl tiles from the ’70s, and the entire bathroom using all black tiles and a four-piece bath from the ’80s happily found on Kijiji. The couple redecorated everything using authentic decor elements and furniture pieces from the ’60s, ’70, and ’80s. The crazy wallpapers, the purple carpet, and the ceramic and vinyl tiles were all found on the internet or at the back, back, back of various stores!”

Originally built in 1898, this former Anglican church was used as a church for 13 years, when it then was purchased by the West Australian Government Railways to be used as the Railway Institute. “From services, christenings, weddings and funerals, it later became the place for monthly moon dances, pre-wedding kitchen teas, dance and karate instruction, visits from the circus school and even home to the St. John Ambulance for a time.”

This seven-acre sustainable homestead and farm is located on the lush volcanic slopes of Mauna Loa, owned by Luis and Ana Castillo, who met on Hawaii’s Big Island fourteen years ago. “Former Californians, they pooled their talents for design and building to create a unique ‘Rough Luxe.’ Together, they’ve created a beautiful and sophisticated home in the jungle of Hawaii — almost entirely out of recycled materials!”

Welcome to “The World at Home: 31 Real House Tours Around the Globe.” Check out where else we’ve visited this month here.

Credit: Megan Spelman

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