Watch: Upscale Bay Area Home Made from Old Car Parts

12/14/2011 10:33 am ET | Updated Feb 13, 2012

When architect Karl Wanaselja built his home in Berkeley, California the junkyard became his urban forest for materials. For months he visited one of three local yards looking for car roofs and Dodge Caravan side windows. The windows became awning and the roofs became siding for the top floor of his home.

The hardest part was picking the cars because cars that end up in junk yards are in pretty bad shape usually so not only was I selecting on condition, no dents, as few nicks as possible and paint not coming off in sheets.

Wanaselja designed the home with Cate Leger, his partner in life and business (Leger Wanaselja Architects). They liked the look of the old cars, but they also believe firmly that reusing trumps recycling. "You know the metal is melted back down -- that requires more energy," explains Wanaselja. "So if we grab the materials before that happens it's actually that much better for the environment."

They reused more than just cars to build their home. The lower half is sided in poplar bark, a waste product of the North Caroline furniture industry. Exterior wood is salvaged redwood and the fences and windowsills are on their second life.

It sounds good, but it also looks good. The car roofs overlapped like fish scales leave the impression of slate, the side window awnings feel nautical and the poplar bark grounds the entire work.

More videos from faircompanies