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Modern yurt with a circular loft is a plant-filled oasis

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730 square feet built for just $65,000

The upper lofted bed area of a yurt features dark timbers on a white background, a circular skylight, and a white bed surrounded by greenery.
A lofted circular bed platform in a yurt created by Zach Both.
Photos by Bryan Aulick, courtesy of Zach Both

Looking to get off the grid but not sure #VanLife or tiny homes are for you? Consider the tent-like yurt: It’s more spacious than a tiny home, more permanent than a camper, and it provides all the necessities of life in a downsized, affordable way.

Rooted in the history of Mongolian and Turkic shelters, yurts today stem from the 1960s and 1970s when yurt-pioneer Bill Coperthwaite looked to indigenous Mongolian design to build round, dome-like structures in the American west. Still, yurts aren’t always—how shall we put it—the most design-oriented structures. Since then, yurts have grown in popularity as easy-to-assemble, easy-to-maintain shelter.

Today, however, we’re reporting on what might be the prettiest, most innovative yurt we’ve ever seen. Located 20 minutes outside of Portland, Oregon, this zen-like, plant-filled yurt was constructed over six months by Zach Both and Nicole Lopez.

A filmmaker and designer by trade, in 2014 Both lived the nomadic lifestyle in a tricked out van before eventually settling down in the Pacific Northwest. The couple built the contemporary-style yurt as their home base—Lopez works at a nearby hospital while Both uses the yurt as a home office for his filmmaking and writing.

A tent-like white yurt sits in a grassy area in front of a wooded forest.
The yurt is located 20 minutes from Portland, Oregon.

The yurt measures 30 feet in diameter and boasts a surprisingly spacious 730 square feet of living space. The exterior structure was constructed in a single weekend with help from friends and family, while the interior build out took several more months. Inspired by his experiences, Both created, a website about yurts that provides step-by-step instructions and photos of the entire build process.

Curious about what type of platforms yurts need to be built on? Both has that covered. Clueless about insulation, windows, and walls? DoItYurtself explains all of that, too.

Beyond the helpful DIY info, Both also provides insight into his interior design. Yurts can pose a problem thanks to their circular shape, but Both solves the issue with a lofted circular bed. A bathroom and galley-style kitchen sits underneath of the loft, and the upstairs space—which features a circular planter housing 45 live plants—is accessed by a ladder.

Raising the bed allows for more space for a living room, small office, and bar-style dining space. Throughout the design Both opts for multi-function items. The kitchen island serves as a dining table, and a couch converts to a guest bed. And by making a square bathroom and kitchen area underneath the circular loft, the design creates natural room partitions (and a flat wall for a sofa).

More plants throughout the lower level of the yurt create a rainforest-like vibe, and the couple opted for a neutral color palette with dark stained rafters that contrast with the white lattice walls. A minimalist black wood stove eschews ornamentation for sleekness and also heats the yurt when it’s cold. The yurt is hooked into the city’s power, has running hot and cold water pumped from a nearby well, and benefits from a central sunlight and large side windows.

All in, Both and Lopez report that the yurt cost about $65,000 to build, which included materials, furniture, and appliances. Want to see even more? Check out this two-minute video on Instagram.

The interior of a yurt features a rectangular structure that houses a bathroom and kitchen. On top of the structure is a circular lofted bed area filled with greenery.
The circular bed area sits on a rectangular structure that houses the bathroom and kitchen.
A black stove heats a white lattice yurt, with plants and a gray armchair in the picture.
The design features white lattice, a sleek black stove that heats the yurt, and furniture from Article.
A bathroom with a white sink with natural wood cabinet underneath.
The yurt’s bathroom continues the black, white, and natural wood color scheme.
The interior of a yurt features a black ladder that goes to a lofted circular bed. A man is climbing the ladder and looking down at a black dog on the ground.
The lofted bed is accessed from a ladder.
A rendering shows the living spaces of the yurt. The plans show a lofted circular bed with kitchen on the left, and a living room off of the main doors.
A rendering shows the design of the yurt.