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Trash Heap

In today’s Times, there was a great story about a man in Huntsville, TX (not too far from Houston!) who’s building affordable homes from recycled materials, all for low income families. Dan Phillips, who the Times reported has been “an intelligence officer in the Army, a college dance instructor, an antiques dealer and a syndicated cryptogram puzzle maker,” began building homes from “trash” about 12 years ago.

I know what you’re thinking. Flimsy, ugly homes made of recycled styrofoam, faded plastic siding, with shredded cardboard for insulation, right? (can they even do that?). But how wrong you would be! Phillips has made some truly amazing homes by getting really creative with unwanted and recyclable materials. A chair made out of cattle bones? A ceiling made from picture frames? Pretty neat. These homes might not be to everyone’s taste, but the way Phillips reuses materials is clever and inspiring. Here are some of my favorite ideas:

cork floor

A floor made entirely of corks. It must feel so great on the feet! And I wonder if the comforting, musty smell of old cork mixed with the faintest hints of wine would perfume your house?

frame ceiling

I don’t know if I could actually live here forever, but I think this is such an ingenious idea. Using frame corner examples that a frame shop was going to toss, Phillips created an artful detail on this home’s ceiling. It lends so much texture to the space, and helps make the room feel tall and grand. Very beautiful in its own way. More great ideas after the jump.

mirror shards

Phillips also pieced together broken mirror shards along an entire wall in one of his home’s living areas. The effect? A stunning art installation, that probably looks great with both daylight and a more subdued nighttime lighting scheme. Here’s another shot of the mirrored wall, as it’s being put together:



It’s not right for every home, but you can’t deny that this “storybook” inspired roof — made from reclaimed shingles that Phillips lined up by color — isn’t totally unique. With the right architecture, this roof would be the ultimate in “wow” factor.

dutch door

If you can find that many corks for a floor, you’re bound to find a few bottles to go along with it, right? Phillips used the bases of wine bottles to create the top part of this Dutch door. I absolutely love the interplay of light and dark greens, with speckles of yellow and rust colored bottles together. This same idea could be applied to any thick slab of wood, then used as a table. It would be especially at home in a garden or on a patio.

To see more of Phillips’ work and to read about his incredible organization that brings beautiful homes to low income families, check out this article. You can also see the full slideshow of Phillips’ homes here.

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