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Extraordinary homes

Living in a building that once served a completely different purpose is a special experience. Imaginative residents have turned these five buildings into extraordinary homes.

What do you do with a building that loses its purpose? Coach houses are sitting there redundant nowadays, industrial buildings are showing signs of age and storage spaces are disappearing to the outskirts of cities. But all of these buildings are places you could live in. All you need is a very imaginative owner and an interior designer who can turn dreams into reality. An out-of-the-box layout will then turn a house into a beautiful, pleasant place to live. Alternatively, it could be that high ceilings and machines will give a building an enormous amount of character. Read on for five examples. With a history of horses, water systems and textiles, they have all been transformed into beautiful spaces to live.

1 Crane, Kopenhagen

You could even live in this space for a while. This former harbour crane in Copenhagen has been converted into a luxury hotel room for two people. The interior is almost entirely black – a reference to the coal that was once moved by the crane. The dark, austere design draws attention to the impressive view overlooking the harbour and sea. You can even enjoy it while taking a bath: in the spa there are two bathtubs in front of huge windows.

2 Textiles factory, Philadelphia

The top floor of an old textiles factory in Philadelphia is now a house – and what a house it is! Sunshine immerses this loft through the enormous arched windows. It is an ideal environment for plants, and resident Liz Sparacio has many. Despite the height and vast amount of space, the space feels cosy thanks to the plants, vintage furniture and rugs made from natural fibres. Liz found most of them in the shop where she works: Jinxed, one of Philadelphia’s most famous second hand design and art shops. To her, vintage is the way to go if you want to make your home stylish.

3 Coach house, Dublin

In a suburb of Dublin lies Bolton Hall, a 200-year-old country house that has recently been transformed into luxury homes. The most striking feature is the renovated coach house on the grounds of the former country house. The interior designers at Kingston Lafferty Design have turned it into a modern, warm home, drawing attention to the original vaulted ceilings and rough stone walls contrasting with smooth floors. In order to preserve the beautiful views, hardly any new walls have been built. A custom-made pink sofa has been positioned in a narrow space, making it a cosy place to read or enjoy a drink together. The odd little nooks and crannies definitely work in this building’s favour.

4 Water treatment plant, Villefranche-sur-Mer

Former helicopter pilot Philippe Tondeur loves industrial buildings. And it’s for that very reason that when he saw a water treatment plant up for sale, he just couldn’t believe his luck. Built in around 1910, the plant is located in Villefranche-sur-Mer and has a sea view. Philippe has left the enormous machines intact. After all, they are the real eye-catchers in this 500m2 house. However, it did take some time before he could move into the station: the renovation work, for which he called in interior architect Bernadette Jacques, took no less than sixteen years to complete. But Philippe says it was all worth it. He now has exactly what he dreamed of: a unique house with a focus on industrial elements.

5 Church, Utrecht

Gone are the days when almost everybody went to church every single week. Fortunately, though, most places of worship are still standing – after all, few buildings are as impressive as churches. Zecc Architects converted Sint Jakobuskerk in Utrecht into a house, while managing to retain its majestic charm. The house was constructed using various blocks on the church floor, where private rooms are located. However, the appearance of the church remains largely intact throughout the house, including the magnificent stained-glass windows. Downstairs, the original wooden floor is still there, and upstairs the new rooms have been given austere floors. That way, the focus remains on the original architecture.   

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