And then we stumbled upon this East Village brownstone with a unique feature that's both fun and functional: a disappearing front wall. Though on the outside, it looks like any other building on the block, part of its front wall retracts like a garage door -- "like the building is falling in on itself," owner and architect Bill Peterson observes. Peterson built the retractable wall to re-imagine the traditional parlor-floor balcony, and it's as much a feat of technology as of design. With the push of a button, the living room transforms from an enclosed, four-walled space into an open-air deck that's perfect for summer. And just wait til you see the backyard.
See the "convertible wall" in action in the video below.
Like what you see? The "convertible brownstone" is for sale for $2.499 million. Tom Cooper of Corcoran has the listing.
Got a tip for our Inside Look series? If you know of any exceptional or unusual property currently listed for sale that's video-worthy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions. (Due to the volume of response, we unfortunately are unable to reply to each submission.)
For all the house porn addicts, mind-blowing price tags, tens of thousands of square feet and double staircases are enough to satisfy their cravings for residential eye candy. At some point, however, those staples of grandeur might lose their luster. And if that sad day does arrive, they'll be left wondering what went wrong.
But house oglers shouldn't despair: As it turns out, there's a whole other world of rich, eye-pleasing properties that can rekindle the magic: conversions. And we're not just referring to your regular old office-to-co-op conversions -- we're talking much bigger stuff -- missile silos, nuclear plants, churches, to name a few.
Click through our gallery to see some of the most offbeat, quirky conversions around.
This conversion may not be a home, but we're making an exception because, come on -- how can you give the short shrift to an amusement park that's been constructed out of a nuclear plant? Giving a 1 million pound reactor quite the makeover, Wunderland theme park is in Kalkar, Germany, and features hotel rooms, bars, amusement park rides and restaurants.
Touted as the world's most sophisticated nuclear plant, construction on the reactor began in 1972. But Chernobyl was a huge buzz, and prompted public outcry noisy enough to halt its construction. It sat dormant until a Dutch businessman snatched it up and transformed it into an entertainment complex that sees 600,000 visitors a year.
Built in 1892, this home was the "Ships of the Sea Museum" until it underwent a full-blown makeover that transformed it into a luxury home. The home offers stunning views through floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
The home has an elevator that lifts you up through three stories brimming with "custom finishes and fine craftsmanship," according to the listing. You can also use the home's winding glass staircase if you want a little exercise.
How about that! Apparently, a residence in Soest, Utrecht, Netherlands rests inside the sturdy shell of a what used to be a water tower. By the looks of a blueprint of the tower we found on TreeHugger.com, the structure has 7 floors.
Location: Carmel Valley, Calif.
Price: $2.95 million
Sq. Ft.: 21,718
With Armageddon just around the corner (according to the Mayans), house hunters may want to start thinking about how to ride out all that impending fire and brimstone. This converted 10-story satellite dish built to withstand a five-megaton nuclear hit is one option.