Forest fire lookout tower house

1930s-era forest fire lookout towers inspired this 3-storey tower house in Oregon's high desert. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

Have you ever seen a forest fire lookout tower and imagined what an amazing little house it could be? Glenda Kaser Alm was a young girl when she visited a 75′ tall lookout tower with her dad, and she decided then and there to one day live in a tower house. Many years later and with the help of her son, architect Brent Alm, she brought her dream to life. The tower’s design was based on 1930s-era Forest Service lookout towers.

The three-storey tower has a footprint of 20′ by 20′ but a garage takes up half the ground level, leaving 1,000 ft2 (92.9 m2) of living space. The other half of the lowest floor has the entry, a small workshop/utility area, a powder room and, of course, the stairs. A disadvantage of a tall and skinny design is that stairs eat up a lot of the floor area, in this case 150 ft2 (13.9 m2) of it.

1930s-era forest fire lookout towers inspired this 3-storey tower house in Oregon's high desert. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

Heading up to the second floor, you find the bedroom and a full bathroom. The bedroom is quite big, including a home office space and large closet. It’s big enough to be split into two bedrooms except that the L-configuration of the stairs means that people going up and down pass through the office space. If the stairs had been design with a U shape instead then it would be easy to get two bedrooms on that floor.

1930s-era forest fire lookout towers inspired this 3-storey tower house in Oregon's high desert. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

Of course the pinnacle of a tower is the whole point of building one. Like the fire lookout towers that inspired it, this one has wrap-around windows offering 360 degree views of Oregon’s high desert landscape. With those views, it only made sense to put the main living area at the top. For those who can’t manage stairs, an electrically-powered bosun’s chair takes you all the way up via two floor hatches.

1930s-era forest fire lookout towers inspired this 3-storey tower house in Oregon's high desert. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

bosun’s chair

There is a small propane stove in the center of the floor with the eat-in kitchen area on one side and the sitting area on the other. A chest freezer was converted into a fridge to avoid blocking the windows. The four futon couches lining the walls double as guest beds, and their plywood box bases provide additional storage space. Doors on three sides lead out to the catwalk deck that encircles the house.

1930s-era forest fire lookout towers inspired this 3-storey tower house in Oregon's high desert. | www.facebook.com/SmallHouseBliss

After living in her lookout tower for a while, Glenda and her partner decided to spend their time traveling and sold the tower house. The new owners have made it available for vacation rentals through Airbnb.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

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Photographs courtesy of Airbnb.

Text copyright 2016 SmallHouseBliss. All Rights Reserved.

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