Heating a home can be expensive, especially in places like Sweden where it’s cold for long stretches of the year. And with our reliance on coal and oil for energy, staying warm is very rarely a “green” or environmentally friendly decision.
That’s why one family in Stockholm came up with a completely brilliant plan to save on their heating bills while eliminating the need for traditional fuel. Not only was their solution resourceful, but it was actually quite brilliant!
Heating a home can take a toll on your wallet and the environment. Luckily, Marie Granmar and Charles Sacilotto of Stockholm, Sweden, found a fascinating way around this common problem with a structure that was as groundbreaking as it is beautiful.
Stockholm, like most parts of Sweden, is known for its long, cold stretches of winter. Residents who live there need to make sure that their heat is in perfect working condition or else they’ll be in for some brutally frigid nights.
Swedish National Heritage Board / Flickr
Marie and Charles were tired of the expensive heating bills that came with those cold nights, however. So, they had a brilliant idea for staying warm in an affordable (and eco-friendly) way. It took some creativity and unconventional thinking…
The inside of the couple’s home would probably strike most visitors as being pretty normal upon first glance. Well, the interior would, at least. But there’s something that makes their house incredibly unique. Can you guess what it is?
Believe it or not, Charles and Marie surrounded their home right inside an enormous greenhouse! It functioned almost exactly like any other greenhouse, allowing the interior to maintain a consistent climate that was ideal for growing plants.
Besides the fact that it looked incredible, this unique structure kept the home warm enough that traditional heating methods were unnecessary. Considering that the average temperature in Stockholm was just 27 degrees Fahrenheit, it was pretty handy!
This uniquely designed home was known as a Naturhus, or “nature house.” The heat from the greenhouse kept the home warm all year round, so the couple hardly paid anything to heat it, at least when it came to more conventional means like a gas bill.
Charles came up with the unique idea with his friend and architect Bengt Warne who originated this fascinating concept in 1974. Bengt had developed dozens of these types of greenhouses before helping Charles and Marie with theirs.
Following Bengt’s unique design, the men covered the summer home in four-millimeter-thick glass. The square footage of the greenhouse was just about double that of the home, so there was certainly still plenty of space to walk around.
Because the physical house within the greenhouse didn’t ever come into contact with rain or snow, the wood siding didn’t need to be treated with any special chemical to prevent rot. The untreated wood looked fresh all year round.
The house itself (that is, the family’s actual living space) was completely enclosed in the glass-walled greenhouse, so there were plenty of sliding doors built into the sides. This way, the family could access the outdoors easily.
Marie and Charles could enjoy the beautiful sunshine coming through their home all year long. Even though this “nature house” had an important financial and environmental function, there was no denying its aesthetic appeal!
Marie and Charles knew they would need constant access to the outside world, so the sliding doors were incredibly important. As spectacular as their house may have been, they couldn’t be total hermits!
Still, one of the perks of living in a greenhouse was being able to grow food without once having to even step outside of the house itself. Can you imagine not only cutting down on your heating bills but also your grocery store trips?
The family took full advantage of their unique housing situation by growing all sorts of fresh fruits and vegetables. This saved them a good amount of money (and stress) with grocery shopping!
Not only that, but growing their own fruits and vegetables right from the comfort of their own home gave this special family the peace of mind that everything they were eating would be totally organic and free of pesticides.
The family’s decision to live inside of a fully functional greenhouse was based on reasoning that went far beyond merely practical measures. “It’s not just to use the nature, the sun and the water,” Charles started to explain.
“It’s all a philosophy of life,” he continued. “To live in another world, in fact.” In other words, building a home inside a greenhouse wasn’t just a practical decision; it was an entire lifestyle change for Marie and Charles.
It almost seemed like science fiction, and Bengt agreed: “Living in a greenhouse gives architecture a fourth dimension, where time is represented by movements of naturally recycled endless flows of growth, sun, rain, wind and soil in plants, energy, air, water and earth.”
The best thing about having your own place is that you can customize it any way you like. The problem with home renovations, however, is that you usually never know where to start, and not everyone is as ambitious to build an entire greenhouse around their home.
Thankfully, there is a solution. The key is to simply get creative! Check out what these folks did to totally transform their homes on a budget. These creative ideas are so surprisingly simple, you’re going to want to try them immediately!
1. A sun tunnel not only brings in sunlight, but it can also help you save money on electric bills. You do not need to spend a fortune getting massive built-in sunlights added to your home. A sun tunnel does exactly the same job, saves energy, and isn’t quite as much of an undertaking.
2. You don’t need baby gates — just install dutch doors. These doors are easy to make, cheap to produce, and they look so much better than all that ugly plastic. Plus, no need to worry about getting rid of them when the kids grow up! These also work well for pets.
3. Collapsible drying racks can help you conserve space. Living in a super small place doesn’t mean you have to compromise when it comes to your kitchen. All you need to do is think a little bit differently! These drying racks are a great example of just that.
4. Adding shelves to long hallways gives you ample storage. Plus, it’s a great looking design! Rather than dent and ding your walls by hanging up pictures, you can line the walls with a beautiful array of meaningful books and art that everyone in your house can enjoy.
5. Do you really need some more outlets in your kitchen for your countertop electronics but you’re worried about little fingers exploring? Put extra outlets behind false drawers! These covers are a great way to get what you need without risking the safety of your children.
6. Every unused space is an opportunity to put in something functional — like this paper towel holder. It can feel impossible to find the “right” place to store them, but this built-in nook makes sure the roll is nice and accessible. It also keeps the roll dry!
7. Heat sensitive tiles in the shower? Yes, please. The only problem with adding heat sensitive tiles to your shower is that you might become so entranced by them that you don’t want to get out! That said, I don’t think anyone would blame you.
8. If you love lending books, building a makeshift library is the logical next step. If you live in a small community or neighborhood with a lot of foot traffic, this can be a great way to connect with your neighbors while also digging into your next potential favorite read.
9. Even adding a small half-table to your bathroom can give you extra space to store towels and other items. It is simply amazing how something so small can make such a difference, especially in a space like a bathroom where extra storage always seems to be needed.
10. Don’t clutter the counters. Add outlets to your drawers instead. How brilliant is that? Rather than just keep them concealed, add them someplace that you can also still use as storage! So smart. Kitchens are all about how you use the space.
11. If there’s wasted space between the studs in the wall, don’t be afraid to put some drawers there. Low-impact built-in drawers like these make storage a snap without bothering the eye with a cluttered up mess. You can never have enough storage!
12. Save room in the kitchen by discretely putting stools on hinges. Not only will there be a seat for anybody who happens to come inside to visit, but you don’t need to worry about tripping over chairs or bar stools that someone forgets to push in.
13. You don’t need a step stool in the bathroom when you have a slide-away step. This isn’t just really handy for growing kids who may need a boost; it works like a dream for when you have lightbulbs that need changing and they are just out of reach.
14. Kitchen drawers can be used as hidden cutting boards. Whoever first thought of adding cutting boards that are built into kitchen cabinets deserves some sort of medal. They are notoriously difficult to find a place to store where they won’t come tumbling out.
15. Use a built-in cutting board like this one with a nice hole in the center so that you can save yourself trips to the trash with all your odds and ends. An idea like this is easy to execute and makes food prep a snap like never before. So cool! This is worth trying.
16. A single chandelier can make your porch look super classy. Who would have thought that doing something like adding a lighting fixture to your porch could make it look like such an elegant place? It’s practically begging for someone to make mint juleps.
17. Just a simple window seat can make the stairs nice and cozy. It is such a great idea to create a small and inviting nook like this one. Every home can use a corner or two perfect for curling up in with a book and a nice hot drink on a cold night.
18. Install a sign to indicate where the guest bathroom is. You might think signs like this only belong in restaurants, but it can be a nice touch and make feel your guests feel much more at home! It helps that they don’t have to wander around looking for the bathroom in vain.
19. Use more contemporary fonts to replace your old house number. Details like this one can make all the difference in the world when it comes to redecorating or designing your home. Picking a modern font for the numbers on your house is like signing a painting!
20. Use the extra space in your kitchen to build a small cabinet as storage for cleaning supplies. Not only is a storage closet like this easy and affordable to make, but it completely robs you of any excuses when it comes to trying to get out of cleaning up.
21. Murphy beds save more space than bunk beds, and they’re much more aesthetically pleasing. Plus, when it comes to time to clean-up under the bed they make that a real snap. They leave plenty of space for playing when the time for sleeping is done!
22. Separate your child’s room with fun, colorful little tunnels! Many children have a hard time sleeping as they grow, this is a normal part of child development. Separating where they sleep from where they play can make a huge difference!
23. Keep pantry items like spices in slide-out drawers. Rather than buying clunky spinning trays to install inside your cabinets, these narrowly designed cabinets make it easy to spot the spice you need without unpacking your entire cabinet every single time.
24. Add a multi-hose head to your shower to make clean time extra fun! There are so many different and cool ways to make your bathroom fixtures just totally one of a kind. This fancy sprinkler system almost seems to transform this shower into a work of art!
25. Install outlets underneath cabinets to avoid ruining your backsplash. Fixtures like plugs for your electronics are necessary in order to get things done in the kitchen, but that doesn’t mean they need to stick out and ruin the slick appeal of your new kitchen.
26. You don’t need to worry about putting your furniture against the wall with these recessed outlets. Outlets like these make it easier for you to plug in electronics no matter where they are located in your room. This is a simple yet ingenious way to make life easier.
27. If your home’s foundation is boring, don’t be afraid to decorate it! Below you will see a great example of how you can really make it sing with textiles. In some New England towns, people use seashells to decorate their own foundations. How neat is that?
28. You don’t need to buy expensive appliances to make them look high-end. Just use stainless steel contact paper. It is cheap, easy to apply and even easier to clean should it get a little bit dingy. Plus, when you’re really ready to upgrade your appliances, it comes off in a snap.
29. Adding a small door to your garage that’s connected to the kitchen can make it easier to bring in groceries. It is such a hassle transporting groceries (especially heavy ones) all the way inside the house to the kitchen. A little secret hatch like this is totally inspired.
30. If you’re concerned about germs, use different toilet seat tabs for each person in the house. Think about all of the time you spend cleaning up someone else’s mess in the bathroom. This idea might be a little, shall we say, eccentric, but hey, it works!
31. Drawers like these that pull out to the side make it really easy not just to keep all of your bulkier kitchen items sorted, it helps to make actually taking them out and using them a real breeze! Look at how cool and functional they are pictured below.
32. It is always, always, always a battle to try and find a place to store your longer utensils. Creating a diagonal drawer like this one transforms that hassle into a storage salvation. You’ll never have to go digging for a place to put them again! How awesome is that?
33. This is the coolest thing you will see all day when it comes to home renovations. That’s right, it’s a vacuum that is built right into your wall! Forget trying to juggle a dustpan around or kids running through the pile you’ve had to abandon. With this vac, you just sweep it in and forget it!