See 10 Public Buildings That Became Private Homes

With the ever-growing trend towards sustainability and conservation, it’s no wonder homeowners are transforming formerly public buildings into unique, private abodes.

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  1. Water Tower With a Twist


    Possibly the most unusual conversion on this list is an industrial water tower turned modern home. The architects added windows to provide natural light; a spiral staircase anchors the vertically oriented structure.

  2. A Church Reborn


    A former church in the Netherlands found its third incarnation as a family home. After the building's second stint, as a garage for car repair, the family enlisted an architect to transform it into a thoroughly modern residence while restoring original detailing that had been covered during the structure’s auto-shop period.

  3. A New Lesson for a Schoolhouse


    Seeing beyond its dilapidated state, a resourceful couple reinvented this Federal-style schoolhouse as a cozy and colorful weekend retreat. The pair did much of the restoration work themselves, in the process weathering burst pipes and a caved-in ceiling to create a charming Catskills cottage.

    Related: Living Like the Flintstones: 10 Modern "Stone Age" Dwellings

  4. From Horse to House


    Guests might never guess that this house, with its abundance of white and polished concrete floors, once played host to horses and hay. The design team retained the original timber beams, doors, and many of the interior stable walls to create distinct spaces throughout the home. The most unique touch? The feeding trough converted into a bathroom sink.

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  5. The No-Car Garage


    A homeowner planning on renting out the main house on her property turned to the house’s garage when looking for her own residence. By taking on the role of general contractor, she was able to keep down costs for the project, which involved adding a bathroom and stove space, and raising the framing of the garage to accommodate a sleeping loft.

    Related:  11 Tiny Houses We Love

  6. Church, Revisited


    To create a cozier, human-scale living space within a cavernous church, the architect cleverly created the illusion of a separate house structure within the original building. 

    Related:  10 "See Worthy" Boathouses Around the World

  7. A Living Church


    The homeowners had to undertake a bit of restoration while converting this Gothic-style church, built in 1909, into a three-bedroom home. A seismic retrofitting to protect from earthquakes ensured the integrity of the brick exterior and stained-glass windows. Inside, the building's bones are revealed through the many original details that were preserved.

    Related: 10 A-Frame Homes That Deserve A+

  8. Gothic Turns Contemporary


    The designers of this revitalized space took a dramatic step—one of the oldest tricks in the renovating handbook—by slapping a coat of paint on the interior of an 1870 Gothic church. The newly white interiors are the perfect backdrop for a minimalist aesthetic and contemporary furnishings.

    Related:  House Tour: Mountain Re-Shack

  9. A 21st Century Schoolhouse


    This still true-to-form exterior of this 18th century schoolhouse belies the sophisticated, modern interiors within. A contemporary addition complements the original structure while providing additional living space for the family that now occupies the building.

  10. A Storefront Faces the Future


    One design decision was key to this former storefront's transformation into a modern home: Installing a wall of glass mosaic in place of the store’s façade made this the most unique home on the block.

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