Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 Future Home Innovations ... That Weren't

Plastic Houses

Yes, another reference to the House of the Future, but it's far from the only one in this category. The house proudly proclaimed that it was built almost entirely from plastics and other man-made materials. This included the house itself as well as the flooring and furniture. Of course that only made sense as Monsanto was a leader in the plastics manufacturing industry at the time. Plastic became cheaper and easier to make in the 1950s, and it seemed like the perfect material. Most kinds could be made in a wide variety of shapes, textures and colors. It was also impermeable and unbreakable, easy to clean, and could last forever. No worrying about termites, mold, or rot.

I'm typing this on a plastic keyboard and drinking water out of a plastic (reusable) bottle, so obviously plastic is pervasive. But nobody lives in a plastic house. We know a lot more about the environmental and health effects of certain kinds of plastics, for one thing, so we're more careful about the types of plastics that we use and how we use them. Even more than that, though, is that we're creatures of habit in so many ways. We love new technology and admire cutting-edge developments, but that doesn't mean that we necessarily want it to be in our face all of the time. When it comes to our home, we still want it to be primarily made of traditional, comfortable materials -- wood and fabric.

That hasn't stopped architects and designers from using plastics more in houses, though. While some of them are made from first-generation plastic, others are working on using recycled plastics in the framework or insulation of a home. These concepts are a far cry from the sleek and shiny plastic house concepts of the 1950s, though.