by Hal McClendon
Some of you may have seen the article of the little cabin on wheels Kent published on this blog May 29th, 2013. Thanks to all who commented on the post. Anyways, that post drew interest from some folks in Portland, Oregon that own and operate according to them, the first tiny house hotel. They contacted me asking if I would consider building another tiny house for their hotel. As mentioned in the previous post, I’m retired and looking for projects to keep me occupied I jumped at the opportunity.
We met and discussed the overall design. I had been thinking about building a caboose looking tiny house and shared with them my thoughts. We drew a rough sketch and floor plan and decided then and there to get started. They were as excited as I to get this going.
It was built in my driveway, with no plans, just a vision I had for the end results. They picked the exterior colors and pretty much left the interior up to me. Working with them in collaboration on the overall interior floor plan.
The owners, Kol and Deb Peterson described their view of the Caboose for me as follows;
“It has a completely unique design, inside and out. As the name implies, the red exterior looks like a train caboose. The middle section of the caboose has a “cupola,” a second story, bright and roomy sleeping loft with big windows. Beneath the sleeping loft are two twin sized, cozy bunk beds with custom made quilts and comfy pillows and a sitting area for 4-5 people. The custom built benches, cabinets, ladder, fold out dining table, cobbled wood floor, curved roof elements, and copper shelving, make the interior of the Caboose pop with detail. Within its’ 140 sq ft., The Caboose holds an impressive amount of richly designed, unique and artistic features, including the builder’s signature Mason jar lighting and copper piping. The Caboose can sleep 1-4 people, and is a particularly great option for families. Children will love sleeping in the semi-enclosed bunk beds. Parents will love the luxurious sleeping loft in the cupola.”
I had a tremendous amount of fun working with the caboose build. Kol and Deb (owners) were very fun to work with as well. For anyone interested in viewing the build pictures from start to finish I’d be happy to share.
Kol and Deb named it the Caboose, and it was delivered to them from Salem Oregon December 18th, 2013.
Admirers of Marcia’s Soo Line Caboose, which was featured in 2011 on the Tiny House Blog, will be able to get more of their caboose fix at the end of the month. Marcia’s tiny house, built in 1909, will be featured on HGTV’s show “You Live in What?” on Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 9 p.m. EDT. Each episode features several unusual homes and HGTV contacted me and the Tiny House Blog to film and feature Marcia’s unusual abode.
“It was an awesome experience,” Marcia said about the two days of filming of her home. She mentioned that the filming was a bit of a challenge since her caboose is only eight feet wide. The 337 square foot caboose sits on a 30 foot train track on Marcia’s 5 acre parcel in Northeast Pennsylvania and cost her $6,000 when she purchased it in 1976.
“Thank you for posting my caboose on the Tiny House Blog,” she said. “I received so many positive responses from your site which, in turn, set things in motion for HGTV. Thank you and keep up the good work. I love the the tiny house movement that seems to be gaining monumental support.”
For this Christmas Eve, I thought I would do a post on a couple of classic, red cabooses that have been made into the offices of the beautiful Osmosis Day Spa in Freestone, California. Osmosis is located in the tiny hamlet between Santa Rosa and Bodega Bay and features a Japanese-style retreat with bonsai, bamboo and Buddha. The spa offers massages, mud baths and their signature cedar enzyme bath.
Each of the recycled train cabooses are located in the backyard of the spa and hold storage areas and computer equipment. They are also nice places for the staff to hang out and have lunch. Over 25 years, the garden has grown up around each caboose, making them look as if they’ve sprouted out of the ground.
The Osmosis Spa is one of the greenest spas in the world. The spa recycles water from its own wetlands and uses the water for local irrigation. The spa is a founding member of the Green Spa Network and uses sustainable practices in its business.
Photos by Christina Nellemann
Marcia Weber lives full-time in a Soo Line train caboose that was built in 1909. She purchased the caboose with her husband at the Tunerville Station in Whippany, New Jersey in 1975 from an ad in the Wall Street Journal that simply said “wooden cabooses for sale.”
For years, the caboose was just a vacation home for Marcia and her husband. After a divorce and a job loss, she decided to move permanently into the caboose. She said the first winter was tough with no indoor plumbing and only space heaters available for heat. Electricity had been installed in the caboose years before, but there was no bathroom. In the following years, Marcia was able to add a bathroom to the back of the caboose (to retain the look), indoor plumbing and electric heat. She also replaced the siding on the cupola and put in some gardens and a lawn. She also had a deck built which added an additional “room” to the caboose.
The caboose sits on a 30 foot train track on Marcia’s 5 acre parcel in Northeast Pennsylvania. Her 337 square foot living space also includes a washer/dryer, refrigerator, stove, microwave and a dishwasher. The cost of the caboose and the track cost about $6,000 (in 1976).
Marcia calls the caboose “a 36-year labor of love”, and is proud that nearly everything on the inside is still in its original 1909 state. She did replace out the floor with a laminate. She will also be replacing the siding on the outside with beadboard to resemble the original wood.
She loves the light that comes in through the windows (including the six in the cupola) and has decorated the caboose with colorful accessories. She thought that going from a 2,500 square foot house to a 337 square foot caboose would be difficult, but she absolutely loves it.
“I sold 95 percent of my belongings and feel very free as a result,” Marcia said. “Plus, I can clean the whole place in fifteen minutes. The area here is absolutely beautiful and I spend a lot of time sitting on the deck reading and just looking at my surroundings. It’s all mountains, ponds, and open space.”
Photos courtesy of Marcia Weber