Home means something different to everyone — whether it be a studio apartment, a classic colonial, or something more unconventional — but it’s always a delight to see how people furnish and live in their respective homes. Lucky for me, I’ve gotten to peek into some pretty unique and jaw-dropping homes this year, from a renovated school bus house-on-wheels, to a guest house made with straw bales, to a cabin on stilts in South Africa. Read on for 11 of the most one-of-a-kind homes Apartment Therapy toured this year.
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1. Light and Airy A-Frame
While a beautiful A-frame in the woods is certainly an ideal weekend getaway, this family is lucky enough to reside in this Scandinavian-inspired Michigan home year-round. “The thing we love most about the chalet is its total unique charm, and how we’ve custom remodeled it for our little fam,” writes Courtney Hall, who shares this home with her partner, kids, and dog and bunny. “We made a vacation property a full-time home in one of the most beautiful places where we can raise our kids and be closer to family. We have total access to Nubs Nob, Boyne Highlands, North Country Trail for mountain biking and hiking, the list goes on.”
2. All-White, Cloud-Themed Studio Apartment
Ever stepped inside a cloud? Well, seeing a tour of Tynan Sink’s high-rise NYC apartment is definitely as close as you can get without literally being inside a cloud. “My place is cloud-themed. Obviously,” says Tynan, “But more specifically, I wanted it to feel like a 1950s honeymoon suite, a cocktail lounge, a powder room, the Playboy Mansion, a 1960s TSA terminal, and a little gay space station in the clouds. Frankly I nailed it.” He pulled this off with curvy, white furniture, a DIY cloud lamp (“It took me an entire day and I couldn’t feel my right hand for three days after, but it was worth it”), and simple, airy artwork.
3. Impeccably Designed Airstream
“We actually purchased our home via an eBay auction, sight unseen,” Talia explains of the “skoolie” bus she, Andy, and their child travel the country in. “We had always been talking about living ‘tiny’ but it seemed impossible! Two months into the pandemic, we took the leap and haven’t looked back! We converted this bus 100 percent on our own. It has been an amazing journey. We’re even ready to begin converting buses for others so they can enjoy this adventure as well!” Now, the bus is complete with a spacious bathroom, full kitchen, and two bedrooms to accommodate the family of three.
4. Screened-In Porch Turned Three-Season Home
“For the past 35 years I’ve been vacationing on a lake in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where my family has a year-round home (which was profiled on Apartment Therapy over a decade ago) plus a little cabin next door. Unfortunately, a few years ago I developed a severe allergy to mold/mustiness, and the house and cabin, despite our best efforts to remediate, became too musty for me,” explains Kyle of the three-season cabin she now lives in. “With removable plexiglass covers for the screen and space heaters, I can be there well into October. I added a sink, mini-kitchen, and outdoor shower so the only reason I need to go into the cabin is to use the toilet,” Kyle describes of the updates she made. “I feel profoundly grateful and lucky to have come up with this workaround because the lake is my favorite spot in the world.”
5. Completely Round, 1980s-Style Apartment
It’s certainly not every day that you see a totally round apartment, but despite the difficulty of furnishing such a uniquely-shaped place, Mia has created an ’80s wonderland in her Munich, Germany, home. “I wanted to reflect the heritage of the house in my interior,” she says, “so I would describe my style as a combination of ’70s glam and ’80s design (Memphis, Post Modernism). I love playing with colors, materials, shapes, and graphic patterns and always try to find the right balance between calming and bold, e.g. by combining soft pastels with vibrant pops of color. The biggest challenge was definitely the round layout of the apartment. We were used to living in square-shaped homes, so it was not easy for us to give each room a structure that made sense.”
6. Pink, Passive Solar ADU Made of Straw Bales
Imagine being invited to stay with a friend but instead of a guest room, they have an entire guest house made from… straw bales. Yep, Allison Green and Dan Theriault built their pink passive solar straw bale ADU in their Boise, Idaho, backyard “to give us a little extra space when guests visit. We rent it out the rest of the time because we love sharing the beauty of straw bale building with others. We worked with local professionals for the construction/plumbing/electricity and did the finishing ourselves over two long years. We’ve been interested in natural building for many years so this project is the culmination of a dream.”
For so many of us, the childhood dream of living in a treehouse never really goes away, so it’s envy-inducing to see Will Sutherland and Sabrina Hartley living the dream in their 164-square-foot treehouse in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. While the couple has a primary residence on the property, the treehouse was a dream fulfilled for Will, who, along with his arborist wife (convenient!) ensured the longterm health of the tree and treehouse with “heavy-duty treehouse attachment bolts known as ‘TABS’ along with slider brackets that allow tree growth and movement.” When they’re not living among the trees, Will and Sabrina share the treehouse with friends, family, and list it on AirBnb.
8. Wooden Cabin on Stilts With a Grass Roof
Amy Keevy and her fiancée, Maryke, live something out of a storybook in their South African wooden cabin. “Tulani (the name of the house) is made of all wood and stands on stilts overlooking the old-growth Tsitsikamma forest,” Amy says, “Maryke and I both love being outside and our house is a great balance of indoor and outdoor living space. You immediately feel connected to the nature around you. On top of my studio is the grass roof, and inside the house you will find very few straight walls! The curves, open-plan feeling, and connection to nature (literally above our heads!) create a womb-like atmosphere and contribute to the magic of the home.”
9. A Year-Round Ode to Spooky Season
Filled with skeletons, handmade octopus chandeliers, and tons of cast plaster details, Adam Wallacavage has created — in his words — a “Victorian style freak show” in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He describes his style as a “mixture of the beach towns Wildwood, New Jersey, and Cape May, New Jersey. The Wildwoods are known for their kitschy ’50s neon and mid-century modern motels and boardwalk. And Cape May is known for its Victorian gingerbread.”
10. Oddly Shaped Chicago Studio Is Only Three Feet Wide at Its Narrowest Point
Ainsley Fleetwood lives in this 460-square-foot studio apartment in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood, and the layout is definitely one of the most interesting things about it. “Seeing the studio for myself,” she says, “I appreciated its character, and felt a spark of excitement that ended my apartment hunting. The building is built along a diagonal alley, and my unit faces the alley and is at the end of the building, such that narrowest tip of my apartment is only about three feet wide.” To combat the odd layout, Ainsley has two daybeds instead of a couch and conventional bed, and keeps all her possessions pared back so as not to clutter the space.
11. Embraces ‘Queer Abundance’ With Collage Walls
While Maya “Marty” Martin-Udry’s Upper West Side studio might be standard in structure, the wall covering is anything but. Instead of painting or peel-and-stick wallpapering, Maya decided to start an always-changing collage. “I started taping up photos, art, notes from friends, and more in college,” she says, “Over the years, the collection of memories on my wall has grown and moved with me to various apartments. It is kinship rendered on paper, a chaotic and overwhelming manifestation of the people and spaces I love and have loved. The noisiness, brightness, and abundance of the collage collapses and queers time — everything that has ever mattered to me, all the people I have been, and all the loved ones and experiences that have shaped me, clamoring together all at once. It makes me feel full.”