This Double Shipping Container Home Has Twice the Delight – House of the Week

A landscape architect upcycled two shipping containers to build a beautiful home in the Big Easy. Oh, and did we mention there’s a pool too?

It’s not every day that a home becomes a neighborhood draw. 

If you live in the historic, tree-lined Carrollton area of New Orleans, however, you might attract a bit of a crowd when you build your home from two massive repurposed shipping containers.

Becoming a neighborhood sensation wasn’t what landscape architect Seth Rodewald-Bates intended when he set out to design a home for him and his wife, Elisabeth.

They’d fallen in love with the area, known for brass bands and bayou music, and found that their double-box design was so outside the box that it became a destination for the neighbors during the build.

“Everyone was very curious,” Rodewald-Bates said. “Some people thought it was a self-storage unit. One younger kid asked if it was going to [be an] Apple store, which was high praise in my mind.”

While there’s no Genius Bar in this home, you will find an open kitchen and living area. 14-foot ceilings and ample windows give the 775-square-foot space an airy feel.

There are wide-plank wood floors throughout and dark granite countertops in the kitchen. Open shelving above the sink and stainless steel appliances add a modern touch.

Floating night tables maximize space in the bedroom, and bedside lamps in fire-engine red provide a pop of color.

The true coup de grace is a pool perfect for those steamy NOLA afternoons. It’s Rodewald-Bates’ favorite feature of the home.

An urban setting for a container home might seem a little unusual, but the house is scaled to fit the neighborhood, Rodewald-Bates added. Getting to the finish line, however, wasn’t always a given.

“The city was actually very reasonable to deal with, but financing was the biggest hoop to jump through,” Rodewald-Bates said. “We went to either 8 or 10 banks with the plans, and none of them would even send them to their appraiser.”

“Make sure you have financing secured,” he said, when asked about his biggest advice to others, “and remember that containers are designed for cargo, not people!”

Photos by Jacqueline Marque.



This Converted Van Is a Tiny Home on Wheels – House of the Week

With a house on wheels, home is anywhere you park it — and life on the road is a family affair.

In 2016, Jace Carmichael and Giddi Oteo upgraded from their first van home to a 2005 Freightliner Sprinter. The new van’s from-scratch build-out allowed them to add a safe seat for their new baby, Juniper.

Their goal isn’t to live in the van — it’s to live out of it. An 84-square-foot house that travels with them means this family can live sustainably on a small budget and spend quality time in places like Mexico, Big Sur, and Yosemite and Zion National Parks.

Lightweight solar panels on the van’s roof provide off-grid electricity, and multiple windows let in sunlight. Indoor-safe propane heaters keep the van warm on chilly nights.

The kitchen is equipped with  an inset cooktop, a fridge and freezer, and woodblock countertops for meal prep.

Across from the kitchen is a workbench where the couple make jewelry for their online business, Carteo Handmade.

The sleeping area boasts a king-size mattress with storage underneath, and pale wood closets line the walls. Bright white textiles and interior paint make the space feel light and airy.

The van has water storage tanks and a 12-volt water pump for the kitchen sink. A composting toilet slides out from under the bed, and hot outdoor showers come courtesy of a solar tank on the roof.

Keep up with this rolling home via Our Home on Wheels, where Jace and Giddi share their build book, along with van listings for other people who dream of making #VanLife their real life.



Quiz: Which Perfect Pool Is Cool for the Summer?

It’s a battle of the backyards! Which poolside retreat has your vote?

There’s nothing more refreshing than a dip in the pool during the dog days of summer. Whether you’re a floater, a diver or more of a poolside lounger, a pool is the best summer gathering spot for all your friends and family.

So, grab your floaties, put on some sunscreen and get ready to take the plunge — it’s time to choose the pools where you’d most like to spend a scorching summer day!

Photos from Zillow listings: Mid-Century quirk, cleanly traditional

Photos from Zillow listings: Riverfront lagoon, long laps

Photos from Zillow listings: New Orleans charm, California garden

Photos from Zillow listings: Pool playground, indoor slip and slide

Photos from Zillow listings: Room for family, palatial hideaway



This Tiny Home Is Ready for Outer Space

The shape is inspired by a spacecraft, making this home truly out of this world.

Ground control to Major Tom: Here’s a home unlike any other we’ve seen.

A lifelong architect went intergalactic to find inspiration for one of his latest designs: a tiny home shaped like a lunar lander.

Nestled on the banks of the Columbia River in central Washington, the roughly 250-square-foot home is hexagon-shaped, perched nearly 9 feet above the ground on three massive steel beams.

Inside, earthlings are greeted by an open floor plan. A breakfast nook has a porthole-shaped window overlooking the river and the hillside; a kitchen with stainless steel appliances provides space to cook up a feast for an astronaut.

A large geodesic dome skylight showers the room with sunlight.

Just off the bathroom, a deep-blue sink and cerulean-colored mirror have a Mid-Century Modern feel (appropriate, considering humans first walked on the moon in 1969).

The bedroom sits below a small ladder and can comfortably sleep two people. 

Upstairs, there’s enough room for a small outdoor deck where you can gaze at area wildlife, including eagles and lynxes.

If the space reminds you of the tiny well-intentioned living quarters of a boat, it’s no coincidence. The lunar lander’s owner and designer, Kurt Hughes, is a boat designer by trade.

He translated his three decades of boat building to home building — in fact, the wooden table in the dining nook is recycled from the Hughes’ first sailboat.

Beam us up, Scotty.

Photos by Zillow’s Marcus Ricci.


Originally published May 2018.


Enter If You Dare: Inside a Real-Life Haunted House

Is that a ghost or just your imagination? See for yourself.

With no city lights for miles, The Pillars Estate stands alone in the darkest of nights.

Inside, guests are greeted by dim candlelight, a windy staircase and a gentleman from Scotland.

Tony McMurtrie purchased the Civil War-era estate in Albion, NY when it was ready to be torn down. Restoring it to its former glory over the past decade, he’s carefully curated every detail — from the grandfather clocks to the silver.

“I don’t know where it comes from,” he explains. “I just like that time and that era.”

[embedded content]

His love of antiques and a refined way of life hasn’t gone unnoticed. Cora Goyette moved to Albion from England and bonded with McMurtrie over their shared appreciation of European culture.

Today, she takes care of the 13,286-square-foot house as if it were her own, hosting tea parties and events in the grand ballroom.

But unlike McMurtrie, Goyette won’t stay at The Pillars alone. In fact, most of McMurtrie’s friends refuse to spend the night.

“A spirit really is within the house,” Goyette says without blinking an eye. “It’s quite serious.”

From mysterious footsteps to children’s voices and a piano that plays itself, strange happenings have been reported since McMurtrie started restoring the house.

Some believe he’s unlocked a haunted past, while others remain skeptical.

Originally published October 2015.

Video and photos by Awen Films.



Look Inside America’s First 3D-Printed Home

What if a printer could solve the housing crisis?

More than one billion people are living without shelter across the globe. New Story — a nonprofit building homes in the developing world — is reminded of this problem every day.

“We would go and look at where kids were being born into tents with mud and sewage that would rush through the dirt floor,” says New Story CEO Brett Hagler. “We learned that they couldn’t really sleep at night, and would get sick just [because of] where they are.”

When you consider the cost and time it takes to build homes, this problem isn’t just daunting — it’s insurmountable.

But 3D printing could be the silver bullet. ICON, a construction technologies company, designed a 3D printer to produce homes. A single-story home, with a total footprint measuring 600 to 800 square feet, can be printed in underserved communities in less than 24 hours.

The cost? Just $4,000.

[embedded content]

3D printing can deliver a house — and I mean fully deliver ready to move in — for about 30 percent less than conventional building,” explains Jason Ballard, ICON’s CEO and cofounder.

About a year ago, New Story and ICON partnered to print 100 homes in El Salvador. To test the technology, they printed a prototype in Austin, TX this March. It’s the first site-printed, permitted 3D-printed home in the U.S.

“One of our favorite things to hear about as we unveiled it was, ‘Holy cow, I would live in that house,’” Ballard recalls. “And that really made us feel like we had succeeded.”

The prototype shows off what the technology can do — like printing curved walls and a sloped roof as easily as straight lines. The Austin home was printed in 47 hours, with the machine at quarter speed. ICON expects homes to be printed in 11 to 12 hours at full speed.

The prototype was printed to last in a developing country, not just Texas. Made of concrete, it’s strong and cool enough to withstand extreme temperatures, hurricanes and even earthquakes. Bonus: Printing homes produces zero waste.

“We wanted to make this feel like the kind of house you could feel proud to live in,” Ballard adds. Knowing concrete can feel stark and uninviting, they planned the design to incorporate lots of natural light. The windows, roof and doors were added after the printing was complete.

While the homes in El Salvador will be similar in size to the prototype, each design will be custom. New Story hosts workshops in each country they serve, asking families what they want in their future homes.

“Unfortunately, they’re not used to being asked for their input and their opinions,” Hagler says. “But when it finally clicks that we not only care, but we’re actually going to implement what they say — it’s really beautiful to watch.”

Each home will have 1 to 2 bedrooms, a bathroom with a shower and toilet, and a living room. The rest is up for debate.

“It’s about shelter, but it’s also about dignity, respect and ownership of your home,” Hagler adds. 

If the printing goes well, more communities will follow.

“This really is a paradigm shift,” Ballard notes. “With this technology, we can imagine for the first time what it would be like to end homelessness as a lack of shelter.”



This School Bus Is a Tiny Home … to a Family of 6!

With bunk beds for the kids, a master bedroom for the adults and a rooftop deck for all, one family is redefining the term “on the go.”

The wheels on the bus go round and round — and then might stop for family dinner, if you’re Gabriel and Debbie Mayes.

It may not be the dream for every family, but it’s the one Debbie envisioned after seeing a video on Facebook a few years ago. It featured a couple who had converted a school bus and spent all their time on the open road, exploring the country.

“I immediately thought, ‘Hey, we can totally do this with our kids. Why not?’” she recalled. “And so I brought the idea to Gabriel. It took a while to convince him.”

“Definitely took a while,” Gabriel chimed in.

But the more the duo thought about the idea, the more it made sense. They felt disconnected as a family in a 5,000-square-foot home; downsizing would bring the family closer.

4,752 square feet closer, to be precise. 

“We were talking about that disconnection in our marriage, in our family as a whole, and just thought if we’re gonna do anything adventurous, now would be the time,” Gabriel said. “We were looking to reconnect, to do something crazy exciting with our kids, and just to take life and flip it upside down.”

So they bought a school bus to live in.

[embedded content]

The family of six — two adults, four kids — sought the help of an outside company when it came to finding the bus and designing the features.

Photo by Marcus Ricci.
Photo by The Mayes Team.

Their priorities: separate sleeping areas for the kids and the adults (the master bedroom has a door that closes), space to entertain guests, and a kitchen with ample countertops. (They pulled that off by installing an under-the-counter fridge. It holds enough food for a week!)

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

“We even went and taped out the design on the floor so we could walk through and see,” Debbie said. “We did things like reduce the depth of the couch, reduce the depth of the [kids’] bunk beds. We knew aisle space would be way more important than them having that extra bed space. I was very intentional in designing all of the little areas to be functional. It’s down to the inches.”

Gabriel’s only ask: a rooftop deck.

“I just had this vision of taking the bus, backing it up against the lake, opening up the skylight out of my bedroom, going up to the roof deck, and then sitting in my chair and just chilling,” he said. “I just wanted this place where I’m secluded from the rest of the world and I’m overlooking just beautiful scenery.”

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

Buying and renovating the bus cost about $38,000 and took about five months. During that time, the family sold or donated much of what they owned and put the rest in storage. They hit the road in August 2017.

Photo by The Mayes Team.

On their first trip, the road hit back.

“I remember the day that I got in the bus. We had spent the whole day packing. Last thing goes on, the kids get on, we close the door, and I put it in drive and our home starts moving. I can’t fully explain how exhilarating that feeling was,” Gabriel said.

“It was amazing but also did not go exactly how we had planned,” Debbie added. “We got 300 miles into the journey, and the bus broke down on the side of the road. It was like, ‘Wah-wah.’”

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

The school bus — which they affectionately call “the Skoolie” — picked a patch of desert land in Oklahoma to break down.

Turns out it was also a piece of private land.

“We fed the kids lunch and tried to figure out what the heck we were gonna do, and a random stranger pulls up after we’d been there for a few hours, and he was like, ‘You’re actually on my land.’” Debbie said. “But he had been a diesel mechanic.”

The stranger ended up building a part to get the bus moving. It’s been pretty much smooth sailing ever since, from the mountains of Wyoming to the Bonneville Salt Flats of Utah.

Photo by Jen Hammer.

Their biggest advice for others considering a home on wheels: Do the research. Find a builder or designer you can trust. In retrospect, they probably would’ve chosen a washer and dryer over installing a shower, but they have few other regrets.

And yes, of course, there are seat belts for all. The family designed the living space to hide the seat belts under the couch cushions when the bus is parked. The baby rides in a car seat. “They are able to buckle up safely,” Debbie said, about her kids. Anything that’s breakable gets packed away for when the bus moves.

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

“To be able to have everything that you own as a family of six inside 248 square feet, knowing everything that you own is where it’s supposed to be — the amount of stress and anxiety really goes out the window,” Gabriel said.

“Whenever you rid yourself of this desire to have things, it’s not that the desire goes away, it’s just that you just don’t have the space for it anymore,” he continued. “It causes you to start thinking on different levels. Now I just want to be intentional with my wife and be intentional with my kids. This massive weight is just gone.”

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

Eventually, the Mayes plan to park the bus and turn it into a short-term rental. They hope to find a forever home and allow others to explore their tiny home on wheels.

“The kids feel like they’re on this massive adventure. Whenever you pull up to a location that’s surrounded by mountains or there’s a new waterfall to go explore or some trail just to go run down, you put the bus in park, and you open the door,” Gabriel said. “Just to see their excitement … I’ve never experienced anything like that.”

Photo by Marcus Ricci.

Top featured image by Jen Hammer.


Originally published July 2018.


The Tiny House That Love Built

With thoughtful design and ingenious storage, 624 square feet goes a long way.

While some couples might balk at the suggestion of designing just one room together, Lauren Shumaker and Scott Mooney are no ordinary pair. She’s a construction engineer, he’s an architect, and they’re both wickedly creative. So much so that they collaborated to design an entirely unique dream home together.

Oh, and it’s only 624-square feet.

The custom dwelling was built with the help of TaylorSmith Sustainable Construction in the enviable Richmond neighborhood of Portland, OR. Though the home is close to music venues, restaurants, and some of the best shopping in the city, what makes it so special is its clever design and sleek structural features.
“We both lived in many compact-sized homes over the years, but they weren’t as well laid out as they could have been,” says Shumaker. “We knew with simple tweaks in the design, we could make small-space living function well for both of us.”

The couple worked together to design a home that catered to their specific needs — for example, an integrated dog door leading to the bedroom.

Built-in storage lines the outside of the house, providing ample space for outdoor equipment and bicycles, and generously sized windows wash every last inch of the home in natural light.
All that sunshine did end up including one slightly unpleasant and unforeseen aspect, however.

“We opted to put a window in our shower enclosure for more light [and] air movement,” Shumaker says, “but water accumulates on the ledge and if we had to do it over again, we would probably avoid putting a window in that location.”

You live, you build a custom compact home with your spouse, you learn. That’s how that saying goes, right?

Less is more

Despite the singular design snafu, the home is a triumph for the couple. The personalized space allows them to live in a beautiful home that’s truly their own.

“We’re interested in living simply, economically, and sustainably, so living in a small, well-designed space fit our lifestyle,” Shumaker explains. “My partner and I love our new house. Functionally, it works great for both of us as there’s equal closet storage, it’s easy to clean, and compact yet has enough storage. Neither of us feels like we’ve had to make any compromises in our ability to live comfortably together.”

And something that helps to maintain that comfort? The classic “less is more” approach, according to Shumaker.
“We’ve found paring down is always the best policy, and we continue to be diligent regarding what comes in the house,” she says. “While we were previously living together in a smaller space, we still found ourselves going through round after round of purging before we moved into the new house.

“Fortunately, this enabled us to be thoughtful with what we introduced into our home, and now we’re happy to not have to worry about any additional clutter beyond what we use most frequently.”

Ask any aspiring home designer what romance looks like, and visions of tidying guru Marie Kondo and custom closet spaces would probably dance through their heads. If fairy tales were modernized, minimalism and clean design would surely be part of every couple’s happily-ever-after.

But in our real world of endless dream house Pinterest boards and wistful home design shows, the Shumaker-Mooney family doesn’t take their labor of love lightly.

“We feel lucky to have been able to see this through,” Shumaker says. “We love how the process of designing and building this home brought us closer together as a couple, [and] being able to enjoy the space we put so much heart into is the icing on the cake.”

Photos by Olivia Ashton Photography.



Modern Design Goes Green in This Park City Mountain Escape

With a passive-house design, this Park City stunner offers energy efficiency with a side of mountain views.

Although the home on 635 Parkview Dr, Park City, Utah, couldn’t look more modern with its clean, angular lines and stacked appearance, it maintains a rustic, cabin-like feel that blends seamlessly into the forest.

This austere display is, in large part, thanks to the dark cedar exterior that was designed to mimic the vertical lines of the surrounding pine trees.

Built just this year by Park City Design+Build, the home — aptly nicknamed the Treehaus — is state-of-the-art in every sense of the word. Its energy efficiency is said to be two to three times greater than nearly any other home in the world.

The home’s interior is also something to brag about: Light oak floors, exposed beams and beautiful dark staircases dazzle in the abundant natural light that flows throughout the house.

The kitchen is especially impressive, with sleek white cabinets that contrast beautifully against a large dark island.

The kitchen opens up to the living-dining area, which has plenty of space to entertain guests and sits right against a sliding glass door that leads out to the deck.

From the deck area, gorgeous mountain views abound — perfect for soaking up that fresh mountain air.

The main suite upstairs is luxuriously complete with a steam shower in the bathroom and extra space that can be used as a home office or a nursery.

The home is listed for $1.1 million by Corigan Kushma of cityhomeCOLLECTIVE.

Photos courtesy of Kerri Fukui: Portfolio | Instagram



9 Homes With Dreamy Spots for April Showers

Who needs the spa when your bathroom looks like this?

A good spring shower leaves the earth feeling refreshed and renewed — which is not unlike a good shower in your own home. A well-designed and polished bathroom can invigorate you in the morning or relax you before bed.

These 10 bathrooms in for-sale homes across the country give us that feeling of rejuvenation — and make us just the tiniest bit envious.

Spa-like in the city

For sale: $1.3 million

This Tudor revival in Washington, D.C., is equal parts modern and traditional — and its sleek yet comfortable bathroom is exactly what you’d need after a long day in this busy political city. This bathroom has all the spa features of your dreams, including a soaking tub with ample space for bath supplies, a double vanity with tons of storage underneath and a neutral, calming color palette.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes in Washington, D.C.

A stylish soak

For sale: $1.5 million

This stunning home in De Soto, Wisconsin, is an award-winning architectural structure, but the bathroom is by far the dreamiest of all its spaces. The light hardwoods and paneling contrast beautifully with the slate-gray tub and vanity countertop, and the lighting gives just enough ambience without being too overpowering — perfect for taking a midafternoon soak in the tub on a Saturday.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes in De Soto.

Tan-quility in Texas

For sale: $1.4 million

This bathroom in Austin, Texas, blends neutral tones and contemporary glass to instantly relax you — and add a huge dash of style. A deep soaking tub connects seamlessly to the oversized glass-encased shower, which has a large bench and built-in shelf for bath products.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes for sale in Austin.

Polished and pretty in porcelain

For sale: $595,000

It’s not hard to imagine yourself spending quality time in this light-filled Tulsa, Oklahoma, bathroom. A free-standing curved bathtub sits beautifully right by a picture window, highlighted by a modern light fixture. And right next to it is a glass-encased shower for early mornings when you don’t have time to leisurely take a dip.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes for sale in Tulsa.

A bathing beauty with a view

For sale: $26.5 million

It’s hard to find a favorite thing about this luxury bathroom in Carpinteria, California. Is it the floor-to-ceiling marbled tile or the mountain views as you shower? Whether you love the ceiling-mounted showerhead or the giant tub with cozy built-ins for all your products, this bathroom is an inspiration.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes in Carpinteria.

A grown-up shower to shout about

For sale: $2.9 million

Let us count the ways we love this bathroom in Bellevue, Washington. For one, we can’t get enough of the contrast between the black hexagon tile on the floor and the large white subway tile in the shower. We also love the vessel sink that sits atop an oversize purple-gray vanity, which adds an unexpected pop of color.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes in Bellevue.

A bubble-filled bathroom

For sale: $1.9 million

The light fixtures in this East Hampton, New York, bathroom are reminiscent of bubbles — appropriate for a room with a free-standing soaking tub. Another set of bubble lights sits above the wall-mounted modern sink with plenty of storage underneath.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes for sale in East Hampton.

Large and luxurious in Dallas

For sale: $2.8 million

Everything is bigger in Texas, and this Dallas, Texas, bathroom is no exception. A picture-perfect free-standing tub is framed by two playful light fixtures, as well as an oversized window that lets in a lot of light but still manages to give you privacy, thanks to the trees right outside.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes for sale in Dallas.

Simple yet stately

For sale: $1.9 million

Large marbled tile and a crystal-clear glass shower door make for a beautiful bathroom in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s not especially hard to imagine taking a nice, relaxing shower with that ceiling-mounted showerhead.

Photo from Zillow listing.

See more homes for sale in Boston.