10 Breathtaking, Sustainable Vacation Rentals to Inspire Your Dream Home
Sustainable design can be even more visually stunning than it is environmentally-friendly. Let these eco-friendlier houses around the U.S. inspire your dream home.
There are a lot of ways to build a home sustainably, including many creative ways to maximize natural heat from the sun and collect your own rainwater. If you're interested in building an off-grid home, it might be worth it to stay in one before you get started to help inspire the design.
These on- and off-grid houses around the U.S. all feature sustainable design and blend well with their natural surroundings. Even if you're not trying to build your own home, any one of them would be an amazingly scenic getaway from city life.
This tiny house is built into a hillside, which offers significant insulation against heat and cold year-round. The home has a bedroom with a queen-sized bed and a living room with a single Murphy bed for an extra guest. The house is a great home-base for a tech-less week or weekend, as it sits on a large piece of property with access to hiking trails and a cedar hot tub. The family even offers up farm fresh eggs when available.
Taos, N.M. is known for its Earthship community, a collection of off-grid homes built from salvaged and sustainable materials. This one is built from a shell of old tires, has sweeping views of the mountains — and you definitely must experience a New Mexico sunset if you never have — through large windows that help heat the home and a water system that collects rainwater and diverts shower and sink water into an indoor planter. All electricity comes from solar power.
This is one of the most recently built homes in the Greater World Earthship Community near Taos, which is one of just a handful of collections of fully sustainable communities around the world. About 40 percent of this home's materials are recycled, like tires, bottles and cans, and it features an indoor garden that grows fruits and veggies. It stays cool in the summer and toasty in the winter thanks to its ultra-insulating properties and smart usage of passive solar energy.
This solar-powered home in north-central Washington is super-insulated for ultimate energy efficiency. It produces sufficient solar power to fuel the home's energy needs year-round. Inside the home, you'll find other touches designed with sustainability in mind, like cork floors and PaperStone countertops, which are made with recycled paper. Winthrop is near Mount Gardner, and the area has plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation.
Just a few minutes from downtown Whitefish, Mont., this carbon-negative home sits on 15 gorgeous acres. The house was built with reclaimed materials, like recycled metal siding and wood fiber insulation. The minimum stay at this house varies but trends long-term, so consider heading out to enjoy all that summer in Montana has to offer.
This cob house is built into Sugarloaf Mountain, far enough away from other homes to enjoy full solitude and privacy, but close enough to the restaurants and shops in downtown Boulder in just a few minutes by car. The main house has an indoor garden with a fig tree, and there's a separate guest barn if you're traveling with a large family. The property enjoys views of the mountains and the Milky Way, which you can enjoy from the comfort of an on-site hot tub.
This Earthship in the mountains of Big Sky, Mont., near Yellowstone, is totally off-grid. During the day, the sun warms the concrete floors so that heat radiates through the house, keeping the temperature at a constant 60-70 degrees regardless of how cold it is outside. A wood stove makes the place extra toasty if you do get cold. You'll want to spend as much time here as you can — the 20-acre property has its own trails for hiking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, plus a wood-fired sauna to relax in after a day of exploration.
This gorgeous home in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado uses passive solar energy and a wood stove to keep it warm. It's decorated beautifully and has an observation tower for stargazing. If you go, make sure to set aside some time to visit the Springs Resort and Spa, a hot springs complex with well over a dozen pools of varying temperatures. In the winter months, the nearby Wolf Creek ski area is an affordable place to hit some truly impressive slopes with none of the crowds you'd expect to find at a Colorado mountain.
This absolutely stunning home in southern California, near Joshua Tree National Park, is truly off-grid: It's not connected to any municipal power or water supplies, relying on solar panels instead, and intentionally has no phones or televisions. You won't want them here, anyway. With little light pollution to obscure your view of the stars and glass walls that offer sweeping views of the desert the house is hiding in, you likely won't be able to take your eyes off the landscape.