There's no shortage of incredible residential conversions out there—churches! school buses! rum factories! airplanes!—though only the true crème de la crème, interiors-wise that is, make it into the glossy pages of shelter magazines such as Elle Decor. In its April issue, for instance, the magazine spotlights a quintessential Grecian sea home (top left) built with volcanic rock and characterized with familiar white plaster and soft angles. The punchline? It was all carved from a circa-1860 seaside warehouse. With the help of some 20 Santorini artisans, hotelier Costis Psychas completely rebuilt the interior to make his dream home, complete with arched doorways and enclaves carved for custom built-ins. Below, find this home's interiors, plus four more mindblowing conversion projects—including a Spanish convent and an old air-raid bunker—excavated from the magazine's archives.
Photos by William Abranowicz/Elle Decor
? The warehouse on the tiny island of Therassia, near Santorini, was originally built to process pumice from a nearby mine. Psychas fell in love with the building at first sight, but purchasing it turned into an ordeal, as the place was owned at the time by 24—yes, 24—different people. Even then the battle was far from won: once the deal went through, Psychas had to first rebuild the partially submerged foundations, construct a pier, and clean up the place—no small feat considering it had been abandoned for more than 60 years.
Photos by Tim Brotherton and Katie Lock/Elle Decor
? When it was built in 1942, this Berlin penthouse was an air-raid bunker, though it went through several more incarnations before it became this contemporary art-filled home of a German ad exec and his art-historian wife. Since 1945, the has space served as a prison, then a warehouse for textiles and eventually a produce facility. Before the couple bought it in 2003, the structure also moonlighted as a nightclub, an exhibition hall, and headquarters for a nonprofit.
Photos by Simon Upton/Elle Decor
? Decorator and antiques dealer Lorenzo Castillo outfitted this former convent in Madrid with funky wall accoutrements, including an ostrich-egg mirror in the sitting room and 18th-century engravings. Also in the mix: 1940s sofas, 1960s fabrics, and floors made of 18th-century marble and slate.
Photos by Richard Powers/Elle Decor
? In Barcelona, architect Ricardo Bofill fixed up an old cement factory—"a crumbling relic of Spain's industrial past," as Elle Decor writes—into a home and office. Inside La Fábrica, Bofill carved an open living space with weathered and raw materials and incredible architectural elements like slatted arched windows and silos. "The half-ruined structure was a magic box of wonderful, surreal elements," he told ED. "The first, most difficult task was deciding what should be preserved, and what had to be destroyed."
Photos by William Waldron/Elle Decor
? Interior designer Richard McGeehan found his dream country house in what was formerly a Wisconsin hog house. Built in 1906, the house is now filled with 20th-century vintage finds, including punchy midcentury pieces and rustic antiques.
· A Dream Home Off the Coast of Santorini [Elle Decor]
· Concrete Thinking in an Air-Raid Bunker [Elle Decor]
· Spanish Conquest [Elle Decor]
· Concrete Potery: Ricardo Bofill Architecture [Elle Decor]
· Far Afield [Elle Decor]
· All The Printed Page posts [Curbed National]
· All Conversions coverage [Curbed National]