Why So Many Montreal Apartments Have Exterior StairsIn the older parts of Montreal, Quebec, you'll find lots of apartments with private entrances to the upstairs units accessible by staircases from the street. They are an iconic image of Montreal, and no one thinks it odd, even in the winter when they have to shovel snow from the stairs, or even de-ice them. They've been that way for more than 100 years, and many are so historical that they cannot be altered. They come in all kinds of configurations, twisty and steep to save space.The reason for the stairs was the city's explosive growth in the 19th century. Housing units were stacked one atop the other, and they were limited in size. But the city mandated a strip of "green space" in front of them. Builders and landlords immediately saw a workaround to devoting indoor space to stairs. Even the Catholic church had an interest in outdoor staircases. Now they have become a part of the city's trademark. Read the history and the reasoning behind Montreal's many outdoor staircases and see some lovely pictures at Atlas Obscura.(Image credit: mksfca) 
The Affordability of a Tiny Home Involves Much More than SizeTiny home living had become quite popular in the past few years. It's about living more simply, with fewer material possessions. It's a backlash against the over-opulent wide open spaces of McMansions. In the case of a tiny home on wheels, it's about mobility, too, since it can be moved to a new location. And it's true that small homes are less expensive than large homes. The average tiny home is around 225 square feet, made livable by ingenuity, and the cost of building one is only about 20% of a the cost of building a new standard home. However, that's just the cost of building the house itself. There's a lot more involved in the tiny house lifestyle, and each component comes at a price. Lifehacker has a list of nine things that will cost you extra when you opt for a tiny home lifestyle. You need to consider them all before taking the plunge. You may still save money by opting for a tiny home, but saving money shouldn't be the only reason you do it. -via Digg​(Image credit: Tammy) 
Invisible House for Sale in Tennessee"Invisible house for sale" sounds like the beginning of a joke, but here we are. A house for sale in Sevierville, Tennessee, blends in with its woody surroundings in a peculiar way because its exterior walls are mirrors. The cube-shaped home is propped up on stilts on a hillside in Dolly Parton's home town. This house is not only invisible, it's involved in time travel, as the real estate listing says it was built in 2023. It turns out the house is not completed, and the images are rendered illustrations. However, tours are being offered to prospective buyers, so we don't know how far along construction is at this point. There are no interior images available. While the look is very interesting, let's ponder the implications of living in an invisible house. Do you enjoy washing windows? Then you'll love polishing the mirrored walls after each rainstorm leaves water spots on all sides. You'll have to invest in some long squeegees. You can almost hear the birds flying into the walls constantly, but they probably won't cause as much structural damage as a leaping elk making its way through your kitchen. And what if you had a medical emergency? Would an ambulance crew even see where you live? Then you have to ponder what those reflective walls are doing to the temperatures of the surrounding woods. Would you be able to buy fire insurance? -via Fark​
Convenient Urinals for Sports Fans in This HomeIt's clear that the owners of this home in Ferndale, Michigan are dedicated sports fans. This is a small house--under a thousand square feet--but that space is maximized for watching Detroit Lions games. There's a full web bar right off of the living room. And once you're done renting your beer, you don't have to leave the big screen to return it. There are two (no waiting in line!) urinals just a few feet away.
Considerations for Powering Your Home with WindSolar power is the most popular way for households to become independent of electric companies, but it isn't always feasible. Your home must be oriented toward the sun and have a proper roof slope, and solar panels can be rather high-maintenance. Maybe you should think about wind power! But you have to be in the right place for that, too. If there are hills or taller buildings around, you won't get the wind you need. You don't need a commercial-size turbine, but you do need some space to install a smaller one. There are also zoning laws to keep in mind. And you also have to think about the return on investment. How long will it take for your energy savings to pay for the equipment and installation? Lifehacker goes through all the things you need to consider before you decide to power your house with a wind turbine. If you pass all of them, you may be in for a utility bill-free life!(Image credit: Christine Matthews) 
A Sweet Shortcut to Great Christmas DecorLook at this festive staircase! It has plenty of Christmas cheer, without interfering with the use of the handrails. But what is holding them in place? These are garland ties, an alternative to unsightly hooks, clips, and strings for Christmas decorations. They are 10-12 inch pieces of garland on a stiff but flexible wire that can be used to attach a long garland, or be used as a sprig of garland on their own. You can loop them, twist them in place, twist them together, and cut them into whatever size you need. Garland ties may be available with other Christmas decor in department stores, but you will most likely find them in craft stores. Once you start using garland ties, you'll think of other ways to use them, for gift wrapping, table setting, or making your own tree ornaments. Get started with a dozen Christmas decorating ideas using garland ties from In My Own Style.