You’ll Never Believe What These 6 Amazing Homes Used to Be

Why demolish an aging edifice when you can transform it into a dreamy dwelling designed for modern living? That adaptive spirit spurred the crafty conversion of this collection of homes whose former lives may surprise you. Take a look at the lavish and livable rooms situated inside these unusual structures, and see if you can figure out their unconventional exteriors.

  1. Compact and Cozy

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    Windmill interior

    airbnb.com

    This dreamy bedroom, together with the property’s kitchen, living room, and bathroom, packs its compact quarters with creature comforts you might expect to find at a cozy bed-and-breakfast. Double beds, spare but striking artwork, and convenient contemporary lighting lend flair to sleeping and living spaces. Natural materials, from the wooden paneling and ceiling beams to the neutral-toned bed linens, pay homage to the simple charms of agrarian life in the Europe of yesteryear.


    Related: The Secret Histories of 15 Grand Old American Mansions

  2. Windmill in Abcoude, Netherlands

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    Windmill exterior

    airbnb.com

    Surprising though it seems, that rustic interior belongs not to a boutique European hotel, but rather, an old windmill. Built in 1874, the converted windmill continues to grace the Dutch countryside with its dramatic silhouette. Topped with a charming mansard roof and four graceful sails, the artfully adapted abode stands only a few miles from bustling Amsterdam, yet it transports travelers to a quieter time and place.

  3. Old-World Oasis

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    Train interior

    airbnb.com

    This little lodging is a mere stone’s throw from the beautiful beaches of Cardigan Bay, where Europe’s largest colony of dolphins makes its home. Inside, the oak-lined residence is as appealing as any other beachside cottage. With panel radiators and a living area equipped with a wood-burning stove, the interior stays warm and inviting all year round, no matter what it’s like outside.


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  4. Railway Carriage in Aberporth, Wales, United Kingdom

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    Train exterior

    airbnb.com

    If the interior of this property recalls a bygone era, that’s because it’s situated inside an ordinary railway carriage from a more genteel age. Voted among the top five “Best Spots to Enjoy the British Seaside” by “Condé Nast Traveler,” the little beach “house” offers plenty of windows, relics of its life on the tracks, from which to view the pristine western coast of Wales.

  5. Stairway to Style

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    Water tower interior

    airbnb.com

    Comprising a basement, ground floor, three traditional floors, and a unique “in-between,” or half, floor, this towering seven-room property makes the most of its impressive vertical space. From the atmospheric fireplace and kitchen-diner on the ground floor, to the walk-in shower on the second floor, every room in the sky-high sanctuary is arranged with an eye toward maximizing space and utility.


    Related: 16 Weirdly Awesome Summer Vacation Rentals on Airbnb

  6. Water Tower in Vlissingen, Netherlands

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    Water tower netherlands

    airbnb.com

    That inviting interior sits inside the imposing exterior of this salvaged water tower. If you’re looking for proof of the property’s former life, you need only head to the third floor to check out the water tank originally used to catch rainwater runoff. Even so, not every feature of the lanky lodge dates back to the olden days. A fenced garden with a furnished terrace now stands on the grounds to give visitors a place to catch some rays and admire this architectural rarity.

  7. Gothic Glamour

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    Church interior

    Zillow Digs home in Key West, FL

    The lofty ceiling and windows with pointed arches inside this ethereal interior exemplify the exquisite craftsmanship of the Carpenter Gothic style. An open floor plan encourages creative decorating and accommodates a main living area with two bedrooms and one bath as well as a cozy mother-in-law studio complete with one bedroom and one bath.


    Related: 7 Creative Guest Houses You Can Actually Afford

  8. Baptist Church in Key West, Florida

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    Church exterior

    Zillow Digs home in Key West, FL

    If you’re an architecture buff who spotted the ecclesiastical elements of the woodsy interior, you may have guessed correctly that the building once served as a church. Erected in 1867 and rebuilt in 1911, the Zion Primitive Baptist Church in Key West was converted into a detached home over a period of 30 years. While the 2,692-square-foot property no longer houses the church’s devoted congregation, the structure’s steeple and tall double doors attest to its religious roots.

  9. Artful Angles

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    Covered bridge interior

    airbnb.com

    In a design marriage made in heaven, a peaked ceiling, metal supports, and a series of rectangular arches unite to add depth and dimension to this industrial-style home. The open floor plan seems to go on for miles, drawing visitors from the bright and airy kitchen all the way to an intimate and inviting living room.


    Related: Straight and Narrow: 22 Shotgun Houses We Love

  10. Covered Bridge in Nevada City, California

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    Covered bridge

    airbnb.com

    Though its straight, narrow floor plan calls to mind a classic shotgun house, this distinctively direct structure was actually adapted from a historic covered bridge. The two hipped end posts of the bridge lend a sense of drama to an otherwise ordinary porch, while the series of braces flanking the side of the house hint at the staggering span of the bridge in its heyday.

  11. Clean and Modern

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    Firehouse interior

    Zillow Digs home in San Francisco, CA

    Spare furnishings and fixtures with eye-catching silhouettes confer a modern minimalist look on this four-bedroom home in San Francisco’s affluent neighborhood of Noe Valley. In a surprising design decision, a silver-toned spiral staircase grants residents quick access from the spacious foyer, media room, and wine cellar on the ground floor directly up to the fourth floor, which is graciously appointed with a master bedroom and an outdoor terrace.


    Related: The Secret Histories of 15 Grand Old American Mansions

  12. Engine 44 Firehouse in San Francisco, California

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    Exterior firehouse

    Zillow Digs home in San Francisco, CA

    The Mission Revival-style architecture of this Noe Valley nest, epitomized by the low-pitched clay roof, isn’t the dwelling’s only wow-worthy feature. The prominent lettering on the front of the building reveals it to be none other than the historic Engine 44 firehouse, built in 1909. Now recognized as a local landmark, the 6,045-square-foot property no longer shelters a fire engine, although its facade makes a pretty backdrop for the fire-engine-red ceramic pot stationed at the entry.

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