Archive for January, 2012

For all their centuries-old practicality, lighthouses remain among the most romantic architecture of the human imagination. Lighthouses have lined American ocean shores and the rocky outcroppings of the Great Lakes since the 17th Century. Alas, with the advancement of GPS maritime systems, shipping can find its way around dangerous shoals in pitch dark.

Now, many lighthouses have fallen into disrepair and the lights staffed throughout American history by the Coast Guard are crumbling into the sea. In 2000, Congress enacted the National Historic Lighthouse Preservation Act, putting some 200 American lighthouses up for adoption.

Lighthouse conversions are still a romantic notion, but the need to repair or retrofit many of the unique buildings in disuse has limited the transfer so far to only 76 of the lights. Most are made into residential conversions.

Lighthouse conversion, make offer



The Frankfort North Breakwater Lighthouse is a great buy for those who love doing laundry naturally and for its winding staircase. It comes with a great vista of Lake Michigan. You may want to order a new set of storm windows.

Amazing house exteriors on Lake Superior

Photo by Michigan Light House

Photo by Michigan Light House

Built in 1896, the Big Bay Light Point, a seven-bedroom complex on 33 acres in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, was turned into a bed and breakfast in the 1980s. It originally cost $25,000 to construct the light and compound. While not part of the Coast Guard surplus, it is for private sale now with a $999k asking price. Pretty sweet spot, isn’t it?

Light housekeeping required

Photo by NJ Star Ledger

Photo by NJ Star Ledger

For those who prefer the Jersey Shore, the Romer Shoal Light Station is located just north of Sandy Hook. Be warned: it needs some work. The tower is said to be rusting and the windows are broken. You should fit the place with thermal windows before you move in. Under  the Coast Guard terms, the lighthouse is “made available at no cost to eligible entities defined as Federal agencies, state and local agencies, non-profit corporations, educational agencies, or community development organizations for educational, park, recreational, cultural or historic preservation purposes.“ Read more about it at Lighthouse Friends.

And honey, I’ll leave a light on for you.

Cave update: Interior designs that rock

You don’t have to be a Neanderthal – or Plato – to live in a cave. Humans resided in subterranean dwellings long before we invented trailer parks, condos and warehouse conversions.

Talk about green architecture! Talk about interior design! If you’ve ever prowled the American Southwest, you’ve doubtlessly observed how cool a cliff dwelling is during a scorching Arizona day. I lived in a cave on the island of Rhodes and never longed for electrical devices, heating or appliances. And now, you can buy the ultimate in cave homes just on the outskirts of Bisbee, Ariz.

Subterranean conversions feel just like home

Photo by Yahoo

Photo by Yahoo

This week, Yahoo reported on a 37-acre estate replete with a 2,890-square foot dwelling that includes a guest house, home office, and library. For $1.5 million you can take it all for granite.

Interior design for romantic primitives

Photo by The Seattle Times

Photo by The Seattle Times

An American photographer and her Turkish partner bought this lovely cave in Ortahisar, Turkey, and they outfitted the bedroom with a brass bed. They bought the cave for around $5,500, thereby forever avoiding Turkish window glass prices. Check out the story in the Seattle Times.

Going native

Photo by Inhabitat

Photo by Inhabitat

Missouri is renowned for its sandstone caves. Here in Festus, Curt and Deborah Sleeper performed a mind-bending cave conversion into this 15,000-square-foot home that uses geothermal and passive solar energy. You won’t find a heater or air conditioner in the place!

Man-cave inside a cave

Photo by Underground Homes

Photo by Underground Homes

If you love man caves, you’ll marvel at what the owner has done with this place in Coober Pedy, South Australia. Coober Pedy calls itself the “Opal Capital of the World” and more than half its residents live in underground homes.

Pass the SPF 5.

Recent Comments

  • Kid's stuff:Bedroom furniture for dreamers

    Hey Woodrow,

    You've put together a great post here. Hardwearing and long-lasting bedroom furniture is so important when you have young children, and choosing pieces which can handle the rough-and-tumble that comes with having little ones is key!

    Best wishes, Alex.

  • Awesomely Oddball Lawn and Garden Accessories

    I plan to do this. What was your process in painting the bottom...outside portion of the tub?

  • Poor staging can crush your home sale

    Woodrow, you have once again 'nailed' the essence of the issue of staging your home for sale with easy to understand pics and words. These are definitely rules to live by, oh wise one! I know I"m soaking up the knowledge you share--- now excuse me while I wring myself out. Can't wait for the next issue.

  • To everyone, a room of one's own

    We've recently bought a house which needs A LOT of work and I'm trying to convince my other half to let me build a "room of my own" for the house, one where I can put my games console and beer fridge. She's not gone for it yet though. The most I've managed to get is an office I can work out of ... not quite the same ... LoL.

    Mine would certainly be like the car boot room in the first image :)


  • Home designs you haven’t seen before

    I wonder how far the folks in the Rock House are able to drive in their car? Maybe down to their boat? It's so true that home is where you are at the moment.