German Couple Convert Train Cars into Comfy Home

Vanessa Stallbaum and Marco Stepniak love trains so much they decided to integrate two old mail cars in the design of their new house.

The German couple met on a train, and their first vacation was a four-day train ride from Berlin to Kazakhstan, so when Marco told his girlfriend he wanted to build their house around two train cars, she immediately agreed. 34-year-old Stepniak got the crazy idea 15 years ago, when he attended a youth club, close to his home town of Herten. It was set up in two old train cars and he remembers thinking someone could actually live in them.

Two new train cars like the two wanted to use for their new house, cost around €500,000 ($725,000), but they were lucky enough to find an online ad for two second-hand mail cars from Switzerland. Built between 1974 and 1975, the two railway antiques were in remarkably good condition, and they cost only €20,000 ($29,000). Unfortunately, transporting them from Switzerland to Germany actually cost more than the cars themselves €26,000 ($37,600), but  Vanessa and Marco spared no expense in order to realize their dream.

Photo by Marco Stepniak

After the two mail cars were cleaned and repainted in Mönchengladbach, they were transported to the construction site, in Ruhr. They hired an architect to make a house plan according to their drawings, got some friends and Marco’s father to help restore and convert the train cars into living space, and the building was under way. Converting the cars was much tougher then they expected, and finding an expert that could insulate them and add underfloor heating wasn’t easy, but they somehow got it done.

Photo by Torsten Janfeld

Marco and Vanessa decided to retain as many of the train car facilities as possible, so they somehow found a way to integrate the old letter classification spaces and tool cabinets in their new kitchen. The other car was transformed into a bathroom so not much of the original interior could be saved. Seen from above, their unique house looks like a big “H” with the two mail cars on the sides and a big living room connecting them. While they had to take a 16-year credit to build their house, the young couple love the way it turned out and don’t regret their choice for a moment.

Photo by Torsten Janfeld via



Above 3 photos by CFP via ChiliCity

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