Icelandic Turf Houses
Iceland’s chilly climate and sparse timber supply made building homes difficult during the Viking Age. To help their shelters retain warmth, people placed layers of insulating turf over timber structures, creating picturesque dwellings that seemed to disappear into the green landscape. These turf dwellings remained practical and popular until the 19th century, when Iceland began to embrace modern architectural styles.
Related: The Most Famous Houses in Every State
U.S. Southwestern Pueblo Revival
Inspired by traditional Spanish Pueblos, the Pueblo Revival architectural style originated in the 1920s and is mainly found in New Mexico and Arizona. Pueblo-style homes use concrete and stucco instead of traditional adobe, and they also feature decorative wooden roof beams, rounded edges, and natural earth tones.
Related: The 19 Most Photographed Homes in America
Tunisian Cave Homes
Carved from sandstone, these underground cave homes provide protection from heat, wind, and other elements in the arid deserts of Tunisia. Fun fact: Some of the cave dwellings (also called troglodyte houses) were used to portray Luke Skywalker’s home in the Star Wars movie franchise.
Related: What 11 Ordinary People Paid to Live in Your Favorite Movie Homes
Stilt Homes in Cambodia
These unusual homes in Cambodia were raised up on wooden stilts to protect against dramatic water level changes in lakes during the rainy season. Their elevation also allowed for greater air circulation during the hot and dry season.
Related: 11 Crazy Colorful Homes We Love
Rondavels in Southern Africa
Found in several southern African countries, rondavels are usually round and constructed of stone, soil, and sometimes cow dung. Modern versions of these huts can have concrete foundations and corrugated tin roofs.
Related: Living Remotely: 12 Stunning Homes in the Middle of Nowhere
A-Frame Structures in America
With a shape reminiscent of the first letter of the alphabet, A-frame structures have angled sides that stretch from the roof peak to the foundation. They became popular in the 1950s with Americans seeking affordable vacation homes, and they were even sold as kits in department stores.
Related: 11 Vintage Houses That Came from a Catalog
Japanese Minka Homes
Japanese minka homes were designed for working-class people and were constructed with an eye toward functionality rather than lavish amenities. In terms of architecture, minka (which translates to “houses of the people”) encompasses many different styles of dwellings that share a common theme of craftsmanship and tradition.
Related: No Place Like Dome: 14 Homes That Are Anything but Square
Hanok Homes in Korea
The most important design element of Korean hanok homes is their relationship to their surroundings. Made of natural materials such as wood and soil, the houses use the seasons and patterns of the sun to create passive heating and cooling systems.
Related: Straight and Narrow: 22 Shotgun Houses We Love
Izba in Russia
Early Russian countryside dwellings called izba resembled log cabins but used clay as mortar. There were no traditional beds inside, and occupants (usually peasants) slept on top of a large covered oven for warmth.
Related: 20 Beautiful Homes Hiding in America's Most Affordable Cities
Thatched Cottage in Ireland
Thatched-roof cottages are iconic on the Irish countryside. Walls made of stone, lime mortar, or mud were topped with sod and straw thatch painstakingly woven by hand to create a roof that needed to be replaced every few years.
Related: Our 12 Favorite Farmhouses Across America
Haciendas in Mexico
After the Spanish settled Mexico during the colonial period, the crown gave sprawling estates known as haciendas to conquistadores. But after the Mexican Revolution in 1910, many of the properties were forfeited under the rules of the new government. Today, some of the stunning estates have been transformed into upscale hotels, while others have fallen to ruin.
Related: America's 50 Most Exclusive Neighborhoods
Spanish Colonial in Cuba
Thanks to its unusual heritage, Cuba has an eclectic mix of architectural styles. The island's distinctive Spanish colonial design developed when early colonizers brought Spanish-Moorish features such as patios and decorative tiles to Cuba, then adapted them to the sunny climate of the region.
Related: 15 100-Year-Old Houses That Haven't Aged a Day
Yurt in Mongolia
The traditional structures of indigenous Mongolians can be disassembled and moved in a matter of hours, thanks to their expanding wood frame and wool canopy. Some nomadic people in Mongolia still live in these yurts today.
Related: Our 25 Favorite Tiny Houses of All Time
If you have the money to hire a handyman for every household woe, go ahead. But if you want to hang on to your cash and exercise some self-sufficiency, check out these clever products that solve a million and one little problems around the house. Go now!