Living in a Tiny House: Marcia’s Cozy Red Caboose

by hookedonhouses on October 21, 2011

Turning an Old Traincar Into a Tiny House-Marcia

How would you like to live in a an old train car like this classic red caboose from 1909? Marcia bought it in 1975 and turned it into a little vacation home. After a job loss and a divorce, she decided to move into it full time.

She told the Tiny House Blog that the first winter was tough without indoor plumbing or central heat (she had electricity, at least, but had to use space heaters to stay warm).

I’m always fascinated to see how people make tiny houses like this work. She has since added heat, a bathroom, and indoor plumbing.

a train car turned into a tiny house-kitchen

train car turned into a tiny house 2

It sits on a 5-acre lot in Pennsylvania, so even though there isn’t a lot of space inside, there is plenty outside. Marcia added a deck to the back that functions as an outdoor room in better weather.

macia's caboose train car tiny house bunks

marcia's tiny traincar house bunk area

Visit Tiny House Blog to read more about Marcia’s home.

train car turned into a tiny house 3

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bermudaonion (Kathy) October 21, 2011 at 7:13 am

In some ways, living in a place like that makes a lot of sense. We have a good sized house and only use a few of the rooms. Her home looks cozy and welcoming.

A.Men October 22, 2011 at 8:33 am

Love, love, love it!

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Thank you Kathy. I must say I use every inch of space.

The Texas Peach October 21, 2011 at 7:38 am

I went to check out more pictures on her blog, and it’s simply amazing what she has done with the caboose. I couldn’t believe that she actually managed to get a stackable washer and dryer in there too. She has made great use of the small space that she has. So neat!

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 3:53 pm

Thank you, Texas Peach for your nice comments.

MomandHerDrill October 21, 2011 at 7:52 am

I am obsessed with tiny houses. I’ve been looking at all the floor plans I can find, this caboose idea is interesting…but I like those Tiny Texas Houses you posted a while back. I just bought a tiny lot on an island and I have to build something like this. It’s a really exciting challenge, plus you know the utility bills on a place like that are soooo much better! :)

Jenny Allworthy October 21, 2011 at 7:54 am

My first thought was that it would make an absolutely fabulous bunkie at a cottage. And I adore the curtains on the beds.

I suppose if you live alone and you are outdoors a lot, this could really work. And what a great lesson for those of us with too much…

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm

I’m glad you like the curtains on the bunks. I thought it offered just a touch of the old days of rail travel. It also works well when I have guests, so they have some privacy or can read with their light on and not disturb any one else.

Marie October 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

Love it! I’m total obsessed with tiny houses. Could it be because I have six kids and can only dream of living in one?

"Auntie" October 21, 2011 at 9:36 am

-clapping hands- That is the cutest tiny house living, that I have seen! Precious. Thank you!

Gentle hugs,
“The goldenrod is yellow
The corn is turning brown
The trees in apple orchards
With fruit are bending down.”

~ Childrens song

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Thank you “Auntie” for your positive feedback. My head may not fit through the 26″ door, if I keep getting these wonderful comments!

shabbychick October 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

It’s decorated very charming, but looks like it would be such a lonely place to come home to when you are going through such a tough time in your life. And I am very clausterphobic so it just wouldn’t work for me!

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 4:53 pm

Small-space living isn’t for everyone, obviously. But I found it to be a wonderful place to go when things got tough. Lots of time for reflecting. I’ve come out the otherside with flying colors.

Maya @ Completely Coastal October 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

This is the cutest thing ever! Where do you even buy something like that!?

Maya @ Completely Coastal October 21, 2011 at 10:18 am

Oh, I just clicked over there, lol…., bought via ad!

sherry o'keefe October 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

i love what marcia’s done and appreciate the freedom in getting rid of 95% of what is in my life (but doesn’t fill my life). i’ve been studying tiny houses for the past year and this place remains my favorite. (now to just locate some acres in montana….some track….some wherewithal . . . and i am there, too!)

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 4:55 pm

Thanks for your feedback. Not as hard as you would think. Just Google “cabooses for sale, and you will find something. I happened upon it by accident, an ad in the Wall Street Journal. I’m sure there is available acreage in Montana. Good luck.

Luciane at Homebunch.com October 21, 2011 at 10:59 am

She made the best of it in every direction! It’s so darling and so sweet!

Wishing you a very blessed weekend!

xo

Luciane at HomeBunch.com

jennifer October 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

How liberating! Some times I long to just live with basic necessities–easier to focus on what really matters!

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 3:59 pm

It has certainly taken me back to the fundamentals of living, and it is very liberating. I now focus on family and friends more and less on what I think I need to buy!

Margy October 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

I saw an old caboose on a side rail a month ago in Bellingham WA. I was able to track it’s history for my blog. http://powellriverbooks.blogspot.com/2011/09/burlington-northern-caboose-10792.html It made me dream of a conversion.

But I already live in a unique tiny floating cabin in the Canadian wilderness, so that’s like living a dream already.

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:21 pm

Sounds really exciting! Thank you for your feedback.

Patience October 21, 2011 at 11:04 am

I love this! It is so neat and cute and I like how she incorporates the color red throughout, which says “cozy.” I would live there, if I didn’t have a husband, four kids and two dogs!

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Thank you, Patience. Red is my favorite color! I do think it might be a bit tight for six and two dogs!

deboah October 21, 2011 at 11:33 am

As someone who lives in a small house on acreage I can relate to her very well. One person said it she thought it would be lonely, but if you are happy with yourself and love yourself, have hobbies and interests and friends, it is a wonderful way to live!!! Myself, I love the peace and quiet with plenty of time to read, think, make art…this is heaven!!!

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:19 pm

Thank you. Ditto!

Juju at Tales of Whimsy... October 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

OMG I love it. How pretty. I could see myself doing this if I was single.

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Thank you Juju.

Kim October 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm

What a neat little house. I saw a caboose in McCall Idaho once that was turned into a house. I always thought it would be cool to see the inside. Now I get to with this one. I think it would be fun to stay in a place like this, but I could never live in one because I’m a little catastrophic.

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Thanks, Kim. I think you would be surprised at how non-claustrophobic it really is, given all the windows, doors and natural light.

Marla in Columbus October 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

The contestants on Design Star would have done well to mimic her designs!

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm

Thank you.Best accolade ever!!! I would love HGTV to visit me.

Velda October 21, 2011 at 2:23 pm

What a great way to recycle something that would just be a wastful eyesore otherwise!

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Thank you, Velda.

Handy Man, Crafty Woman October 21, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Very cute, but I went “AAACK” at no indoor plumbing. glad she’s changed that!

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Thank you. Plumbing came as finances allowed.

kathy October 21, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I love this!! By the dates I’m guessing we’re around the same age. At this point and time in my life I can see this is GREAT!! How refreshing. To be honest I’m so sick of the over the top huge homes or the kitchen updates that cost around $90,000.00 Life’s short have a cup of tea and a good book in that cozy kitchen in the winter and out on the deck in the summer. Looks like a dream to me.

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Thank you Kathy. I’m 66 and love the peacefulness of tiny living. I read a lot and just take in the scenery. Can keep up with the kids with Skype, and my precious grandson.

*camp1899* October 21, 2011 at 8:10 pm

another tiny house.. i LOVE it!! so cute. living in an airstream, living in a caboose.. soul sisters! (;
p.s. on a totally side note, dream post from you: james bond decor/sets??

tiffany

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:15 pm

Thank you, Tiffany

Dean October 21, 2011 at 10:23 pm

LOVE it! I’ve often thought about living in a train car ever since I saw the movie “Harold and Maude.” (Maude lived in one and it matched her personality perfectly.)

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Thank you, Dean. I guess it matches my personality, too.

Jill October 21, 2011 at 11:23 pm

This is so adorable! When I was little I read a book called “The Boxcar Children” (or something like that). I thought it would be so cool to make a little home in a boxcar…now I’m thinkin’ the caboose would be even better!

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:05 pm

Jill, I read the same book which I think has inspired me to do this. I have the whole series of the Boxcar children, including “The Caboose Mystery”. I thought the same thing as a child.

MamaHen October 22, 2011 at 6:27 am

Love it and love the fabrics she used.

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Thank you. The fabrics all came from “Linen Source.”

Val October 22, 2011 at 8:37 am

Love it and it proves that you don’t have to have a big or fancy house to have a great space. I am guilty of the “if only I had____” thinking, so this reminds me that my house, as is, can be decorated beautifully, and be a wonderful home. I have everything I need.

Re the comment that it looks like a lonely place to come home too…. a big house is just as lonely to come home to…. I can attest.

Can’t wait to check out her blog to see more of it!

Joyce October 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

I love this cozy space! I like how she has used the same color scheme and fabrics throughout for a unified look. The stove doesn’t appear to be vented, and I wonder how that works for her. The bathroom/laundry seems to be in the cupola? I can’t tell.

It’s charming, and the deck adds space in good weather for dining and entertaining. I am alway amazed at how people are able to convert odd spaces into attractive homes.

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Thank you, Joyce. FYI, the stove is electric. The bathroom/laundry was something I have built onto the back of the caboose, so it wouldn’t change the appearance from the front. It is canti-levered so it can’t be seen from the front. Also, it has braces to the tracks so that it can move with the whole caboose when it sways in the wind (not very noticeable).

Amy W. October 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm

Sweet Story!
Just amazing at how wonderfully she decorated the inside
the inside of her cozy home.
Loved reading her story!!
Thanks for sharing it with us!!

Marcia Weber October 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Thank you, Amy!

Erika October 22, 2011 at 8:48 pm

So very cute. Now if only “The Box car Children” would have had it so well. ;)

Rosalind October 23, 2011 at 6:34 am

It looks very cute, but it also feels very claustrophobic especially when looking at the bathroom/laundry. Since she’s sitting on a 5 acre property, I think I would go for something a little bigger.

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Thanks for your feedback Rosalind. The bathroom/laundry if 6′ x 12′. Hard to take pictures . If I hadn’t come across the caboose by accident and had to have built something, I’m sure it would have been bigger. But when I saw the caboose, I said “OMG, I have to have that!!”

bicocacolors October 24, 2011 at 5:11 am

this is awesome, really loooooooove it!

Deena Larsen October 26, 2011 at 11:30 am

That is cute. I really like the colors. The porch makes a huge difference. I have a tiny house /(350 sf), an d I have a bench outside in the front and a patio/garden in back. So I can choose where to sit.

Also, think about light. You want as much light as possible. And use possessions to decorate (my clothes make a nice splash of color on the wall, my blankets are another source of color, my mugs hang in pegs in the kitchen area).

Think about zones as well. Here is my work zone, cooking zone, sleep zone. What do I need in each? What will I be doing? Watch yourself as you go through a day. What do you use? What makes you smile? Incorporate that in your planning!

Marcia Weber November 2, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Thank you Deena. I totally have zones and every space has more than one function. I have TONS of light, which totally keeps it from feeling claustrophobic.

NJ Cellulose Insulation Contractor January 5, 2012 at 11:57 am

Wow! That is all I can say.

Marcia Weber January 6, 2012 at 10:09 am

I’ll take that as a compliment. Judging from your name, do you do spray foam insulation? I really need to insulate.

Brandy February 10, 2012 at 7:38 pm

A late comment, but I just had to! Anybody else remember The Boxcar Children? That’s what I immediately thought of when I saw this adorable home. I would love to live in such a unique home.

eloise September 19, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Marcia. You are an inspiration! We have a 1941 metal caboose with the center cupola that we’ve had for 25 years and used as a semi-office/storage. We have just decided to renovate it so will be tearing everything out in order to insulate as it is hard to heat and rough cooling, too. Seeing your photos is giving us lots of ideas to make it a useful space. Do you have a layout? We are so excited to start the project now. Thank you!

Matt October 1, 2012 at 8:53 am

In South Haven, MI they have 2 cabooses that have been converted to rooms you can rent. We stayed there every summer when I was a kid!

http://www.oldharborinn.com/accommodations/cabooseinn.php

hookedonhouses October 1, 2012 at 9:04 am

That’s fun–thanks, Matt!

Marcia Weber March 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Hi, just wanted to let you know that my caboose will be featured on HGTV’s “You Live in What?” on Easter Sunday, March 31, 2013. Check your local listings for time.

hookedonhouses March 9, 2013 at 10:15 pm

That’s great, Marcia! Thanks for letting us know so we can set our DVRs. :)

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