The $500 Dream Home

The $500 Dream Home

Imagine a home with a wall of windows, fully lit by natural sun and moonlight, set within a forest at the foot of a mountain range in a warm country. With deer, rabbit and foxes running wild around you. Sounds magical doesn’t it?

Well Nick Olson and his partner Lilah Horwitz made their fairytale dream home come true -for the grand old cost of $500. Photographer Nick and designer Lilah, met at an artist’s residency in Pennsylvania. One evening, whilst visiting Nick’s parent’s home in West Virginia, the two talked about their ideal home – a structure full of light, where they could enjoy natural light in their home all day and night.

“Light is so different in the morning, at noon and at dusk. We wanted to somehow build a house so that change happened in our living space,” Olson said. “It’s about being closer to living with the elements.”


In a“spur-of-the-moment decision,” the new couple quit their jobs, rented a van and began driving around looking for the perfect place to build their home. In the end, they pursued their dream project full-time.

The couple scavenged for abandoned windows. They even purchased a few. But their big yeehah moment was when they literally stumbled across a stack of old windows in an abandoned barn in Pennsylvania – a moment Lilah calls, ‘serendipitous.’

They built their home by themselves on Nick’s families land near New River Gorge National River park. The front window wall is approximately 16 feet high and the base is 4 feet off the ground.

“It was just the two of us trying to put up these gigantic posts. It was scary and hard,” Lilah said. “Looking at it now, it’s just totally insane. It’s huge. I realize now that’s what makes it so amazing.”

They used every cent they had and lived on a diet of rice and beans, using nails, wood and anything they could salvage from the old barn. They estimate the total spend was $500.

“Even the roofing we took from the abandoned barn,” Olson said. “We were able to make it a reality because we are first artists and creators. We had to be resourceful to do it cheaply.”

Unfortunately, they can’t live there full time as there is no plumbing or electricity but the two artists said they enjoy using the space as an escape.

Lilah’s favourite time of day inside the home is when the “nighttime sun” saturates  the cabin – just as dusk falls.

“That’s when everything inside is on fire,” she said.

Nick enjoys the nighttime.“The house is an experience at night. The fireflies start at the ground and merge to the stars up above. It’s really like you’re sleeping under the stars.”

Someday Olson and Horwitz dream of building an outdoor kitchen, solar power and a wood-burning stove and make it their home. After what they’ve already achieved together, we’re sure they’ll make that dream come true!

Check out the video below.

photo credit: Yahoo Homes.

source: Yahoo Homes.

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