“We considered a bunch of different options. There’s obviously the tiny house, maybe like converting a chicken coop, or there was that used submarine that was on Craigslist.”
This young millennial couple, who had previously lived in a cargo van conversion as part of the #vanlife movement, finally decided to settle down in a yurt as their new, non-traditional home.
And you won’t believe how freaking cool this thing is!
Although having a submarine home would have been pretty awesome, a yurt is much less expensive to maintain, especially since you don’t need to have a live-in nuclear engineer on hand just to keep the lights running.
The massive skylight in the center of their yurt automatically takes are of that.
When Zach and his girlfriend Nicole were looking for a new home, they wanted something that would allow them to downsize their living space.
They were also looking for a unique design challenge that was worth tackling, and the traditional yurt fit the bill.
Zach says that 99 percent of yurts look the same, and he’s not wrong. They all have that classical round house shape with a cone top, and the architecture hasn’t changed much over the centuries.
Yurts date back to at least 600BC, when Greek historian Herodotus first described the tent-like structures as the dwellings of Central Asiatic warriors known as the Scythians.
It was Zach and Nicole’s desire to bring the yurt into the 21st century, but with their own modern, contemporary twist.
The first thing guests see when they step into the home is the couple’s living room.
For the most part, yurts are one-room studios, but a small divider behind the couch gives their living room an airy, yet contained feel.
The couch also pulls out into a bed so friends and family can stay overnight if they wish.
All the living spaces in this yurt are designed around a central cube unit, which is topped with what looks like a tiny, flourishing garden.
The divider helps give the illusion of separate rooms, without actually taking up much space.
That cube unit is both practical and functional in other ways, too. It’s actually the bathroom!
Oh, and that round garden on top of the bathroom? Well, that’s actually the couple’s bedroom. The loft was purposely designed it to be as round as King Arthur’s roundtable to match the shape of the yurt itself.
To achieve the modern look they were after without sacrificing color, the couple decided on a simple and elegant solution – plants.
Brightening up the place with pops of greenery helps complement the otherwise neutral, muted palette.
The couple decided to leave the latticework frame of the yurt open and exposed.
Zach went on to explain how most yurts have natural colored lattice, and depending on which wood they’re made from, they can sometimes have an orange hue. It’s not a look that Zach sounded particularly fond of.
“We definitely didn’t want to hide the lattice because it is quite striking and unique of a geometric pattern inside the yurt. But, we wanted to just kind of subdue it, and not have it be such an overpowering element to the design and feel of the space.”
There’s another practical purpose for the the open latticework t that Zach didn’t mention.
It’s perfect for holding tiny potted succulents! Instead of framed pictures, their space is decorated with lots and lots of plants.
It does get very cold in Portland during the winter months, but even without traditional insulation methods, this yurt manages to stay pretty warm.
A double layer of Reflectix, which is a form of insulation that stops radiant heat loss, covers the outer shell of the home. It can still get a little bit nippy in December and January, which is why their minimalist wood-burning stove has been a godsend during those times.
Plus, let’s not underrate just how much heat the couple can make with some good, old-fashioned cuddling!
Instead of distractions like a TV in the living room, Zach and Nicole prefer to look out their big French doors.
The view from their couch is astonishing. Mother nature provides all the entertainment they could ever want or need!
“I didn’t think I would say this, but I’ve become quite the bird watcher.”
And that cheeky hobby talk is coming from someone who is still years away from getting his first gray hair.
Here’s a gorgeous view of the yurt from the front door, looking out to the side.
The spaciousness of the design here is unreal. It’s like the dwelling has become a part of nature’s grand design.
Zach admitted to getting a little bit selfish, and made a home office himself. He works from home, so it’s actually something he needed.
As with the central bathroom divider, a planter shelf helps create the illusion that this is actually a separate room with a big, open door policy. And if a bird happens to swings by to say hi, all the better!
Incredibly, one side of the cube unit wall has been turned into a very practical and useful whiteboard. Now that’s some design magic right there!
On the exact opposite side of the office, if there even is such a thing considering the house is round, lies the kitchen and dining room.
The island in the center is where they both prepare and eat their meals, so it’s a very cozy hands-on experience.
Zach and Nicole wanted to maintain the minimalist theme with the kitchen. Instead of a full oven they have a countertop convection oven that can roast chicken and bake cookies.
They also have a small cooktop for frying up bacon and eggs. Because bacon, you know.
One neat feature of a yurt is the fact that you can walk from room to room without any obstructions, which provides a natural flow to everything.
Just around the “corner” from the kitchen, directly opposite of the living room, is the entrance to the bathroom. Now, this is what we’ve all been waiting to see, right?
It’s definitely not short on comfort. There’s a modern sink, and behind the mirror to the right is a big closet for storage.
“Everyone says to be minimalist you need to get rid of all your things, but the truth is you just need to hide it all. So it’s all hidden in here and it’s kind of our junk closet.”
This bathroom is also hiding another secret – it’s very high tech! The fan is humidity controlled, and the lights are motion activated.
The shower stall is nothing to write home about, and has in fact taken on a yellow tinge from the well water. Zach noted that he typically only tries to clean that off when they have special guests over – like the YouTuber from Australia who was filming this show!
Just across from the shower is the compost toilet, which they’ve quite enjoyed using. That too, is something Zach probably shouldn’t write home about.
Of course for the big finale we have the loft that’s been hiding out of view this entire time.
It’s accessed via a ladder right outside the bathroom door. Zach does warn that it’s great for vertically challenged people like him and Nicole, but taller people need to watch their heads when they climb up.
Now, this is where the yurt really shines, like literally! That’s the natural sunlight right there poking through the skylight.
The surreal, masterful design makes you feel like you’re swimming in both the light and darkness.
Zach and Nicole have created their own little Garden of Eden up there! But, there is one very obvious pain point Zach thought worth mentioning.
“It is a pain to water all these plants. They are in fact all real.”
The loft is truly barebones minimalist and is only used for sleeping (and her, other bedroom activities).
There is power in the room so they can charge their phone and their old boombox for when they want to listen to LL Cool J.
But the ultimate crowning glory that pulls this entire yurt together is this ah-mazing skylight. Imagine waking up to this stunning view every morning. Sleeping in is definitely not an option!
“The thing is, sleeping here under this massive ring, and being able to see…I mean you can see the stars at night, hear the owls. It does make for a rude awakening in the morning.”
No one asked whose job it is to clean the glass when the birds get feisty, but like with the plants, that’s most likely Zach’s “doody” too.
You don’t actually need to buy a yurt to get a feel for what it’s like. There are many new Airbnb’s popping up all over the world that will give you the fun yurt experience without the commitment.
Although no two are alike, the adventurous feeling you get from staying in a yurt is shared between all of them.
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