People are turning silos into houses—and they’re gorgeous
- June 15, 2017 |Last updated on 02/08/2021
If you were intrigued by the tiny home movement that swept headlines a while back, you’re going to love the newest trend in housing: homes made out of old silos (yes, the agricultural storage containers).
These increasingly popular dwellings have the eco-friendly, minimalist feel of tiny homes, while also introducing gorgeous curves to rooms and some vertical space that can be optimized in unique ways.
Fair warning, though: Just as the tiny home movement did, these silo houses might just inspire you to throw out the majority of your belongings and settle into a cozy, 200-square-foot space full of stowaway gadgets and Murphy beds.
Silo homes may look like plain old grain bins from the outside, but once you step inside, you discover they’ve been completely renovated to become creative living spaces, often standing several stories tall and maintaining a surprisingly light and airy appearance.
Since an old silo is already built and installed and requires zero upkeep, it can easily become a fantastic, affordable shell for a home — and it’s often cheaper to both renovate and maintain than a traditional house would be.
Earl Stein enlisted Utah-based firm Gigaplex Architects to convert a silo into a custom-built home for him. The stylish house is nicknamed “Montesilo.”
“Even when indulging myself with warm morning floors, my heating bills have been a fraction of what it would cost to heat a 1,800-square foot house in this harsh Utah environment at 7,100 feet,” Stein told Mother Earth News. “Even with all the custom work, Montesilo came in below $200 per square foot — well below average building costs for the area.”
The advantages of silo houses aren’t solely economic, either. If you can learn to decorate an interior with a rounded wall — a challenge that not everyone is willing to take on — the results can be smooth, soothing and surprisingly stylish.
The unconventional homes can also be an attractive option for those with eco-friendly living in mind, since they re-use old bins (which can eventually be recycled at the end of their life cycles) and since the compact space and insulation can keep heating and cooling needs to a minimum, lowering homeowners’ environmental impact.
Find out more about this 366-square-foot silo home in this YouTube video posted by Park City Television. It will inspire you!
If you don’t want to live full-time in a silo house, you could turn one of the bins into cozy guest quarters. Take a look at how one couple converted a silo into a guest house, as featured by Reader’s Digest.
— Reader's Digest (@readersdigest) March 8, 2017
Those interested in silo-home living don’t have to limit themselves to grain bins, either. One man in Texas recently set up his bachelor pad in an abandoned nuclear missile silo, and some have imagined homes of the future being built inside massive oil silos. There’s a peanut-silo home at the River Road Ranch Resort in Fredericksburg, Texas, that you can book for a night.
You can see in this video of The Silo at River Road Ranch, posted by proprietor Bill Bowman, that the curvy architecture of a silo house pretty much begs for a spiral staircase.
Alternatively, you could also covert an old shipping container into a house or dig a home directly into the side of a hill (a very “Lord of the Rings”-ish approach to renovation). Each option comes with its own unique set of challenges and benefits.
Check out these amazing pools made from recycled shipping containers:
Not sure whether you’re ready to commit to the silo life? No worries; you can always rent out a silo home to test-drive the lifestyle, like the peanut-grain silo above or others around the country. If you do start eyeing old silos as potential homes after that, be warned: These beautiful creations can take time to build and require an eye for circular design.
But if you like a challenge, the potential rewards are huge — and your dinner parties will always take place in a unique setting.