Houzz TV: See a Funky Beach Home Made From Old Streetcars

Houzz TV: See a Funky Beach Home Made From Old Streetcars

Share this Video:
Replay Video

Houzz TV: See a Funky Beach Home Made From Old Streetcars

Streetcars carried passengers through the streets of Santa Cruz until 1926, when they were decommissioned and replaced by buses. So what happened to the streetcars?

Mary and Gerhard Ringel know exactly where two are. They currently live inside them.

Comment124
Keep Watching:
Comments (124)
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
daybydaybyday

This is so creative and beautiful. I'm not wild about some of the loud colors in some of the spaces though. I wish I could have seen photos of the outside and how they are joined together.


55 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lidarose

What a lovely place! I actually loved the before and after photos equally. I love the creativity and the lively colors! Homey and beautiful!

29 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
grizzly

Makes for a great and fun cottage.

22 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lslav2012
Oh my goodness!! That's awesome! I want one!
23 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
magada

Two Streetcars Named Desires - as in I WANT IT !

38 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
davsay
Although I find the colors to be rather garish, the concept and execution is very clever and a great way to save some history.
16 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mslr0
Now wait a minute -- they get to have two streetcars AND a treehouse? That's so cool, it's just almost not fair! I just love seeing homes like this. Good for them and thanks for featuring this!
60 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
craigmerrow

This is just too cool! Wish there were a few exterior shots and more about the story behind the streetcars, but I really enjoyed the article. Some people just know how to live! BTW, I call dibs on the treehouse...

19 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
artisticgurl44

that's just 2 darn cute and very creative i guess anything can be made into a warm cozy home


9 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Meredith McCann

If you don't like bright colors, Santa Cruz is not the town for you!

17 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Kendrah

Ah, how lovely. I too like the before pics as much as the afters. Not a bright colors fan, and Santa Cruz is surely not the town for me.


4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
scarbowcow

When I saw the renovated bathroom, I sat back in delight - so fresh and charming.

I definitely want to see the outside - and maybe a floor plan. It would help visualize it. And of course, no point in talking about the property without some pictures of it! Also, how wide is a typical streetcar? The text says how long the cars are, but I'd like a sense of how far it is from the sofa to the TV, for example. Can we assume that they are about as wide as a typical bed is long?



16 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
loolabelle
Very clever and creative. Colors seem appropriate in the space. Great job!
11 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
xiiam

Great work! It is still a trailer home though...

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
clgclgclg

Why photos of the exterior?

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
piedmontdiva

So Santa Cruz! Very fun.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Dan Simes

what a neat idea for reusing something that was discarded. Very nice!

12 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nolagal
Really fun, whimsical idea & with old-school skylights to boot - they'd look great with stained glass panels. Kind of reminds me of Maude's digs in 'Harold & Maude', though not quite so eclectic as hers (&, of course, hers was a train car :-)
7 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sarah Saul

Awesome!! What does the outside look like?

11 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Trish

Yes, I was waiting for the exterior shot too! Pretty cool place to live.

11 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mamazuz

It reminds me of a gypsy caravan. I love it, bright colors and all.

12 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lynn G

Love it! And love the kitchen! What a great built-in cabinet and nooks and crannies. For a small space it really appears to have a good amount of storage and counter space. Now I want a couple of those to do the same! Great job!


8 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
lindared

How creative! Love it. The bath is very calming in its colors! Thank you for sharing.

6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
blinddj49

I, too, would like to see exterior photos of this house--love to see how it goes together. Also I'd like to see a floor plan, just to get the feel of the house as a whole.


8 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Eugene Ely

perfect for Santa Cruz and a nice way to repurpose something rather than trash it or preserve it as a relic to just look at.

6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
victoran

Love it, the colors, and the way they redid the space to feel more modern. Love the kitchen.

I wonder if their home is in the woods of Santa Cruz on a bit of land...absolutely heaven!

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Mackin Drafting & Design

It's a cute and funky space! Great use of something that would have gone to the dump or scrap yard.

6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Stephanie Hart

Would love to see a pic of the outside of the house...


3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
marsia

Wow, this is the house my boyfriend lived in when I went to college 30ish years ago. I love that old claw foot tub. And my hubby and I helped the lady who owned the house before this with constructing the tree house through a free class in carpentry in exchange for free labor to build the tree house. (This is a picture of the house from maybe 10 years or so ago when we were there as part of the tree house crew. You really can't tell it's trolley cars from the outside.) It's so great to see the house and property continually fixed up and loved. It's wonderful to see the interior trolley car details brought back to life!

43 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Hope Anderson

Amazing! Please show the exterior.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
janiesings
A great example of less = more. In smaller spaces, I think we're more challenged design-wise. That this couple met the challenge and succeeded so brilliantly is truly inspirational! Kudos,
7 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Alison

This is really interesting. I had read a children's book years ago about a family living in a streetcar, but that was with them largely working with the interior furnishings.

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Becky Harris

Awesome!

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
pixiebabydoll

charming ,adorable, so sweet looks like a box of crayolas!

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
santaaa

Love it


3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
paddlerchick

Love small living. I could live there in a second.

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
sidneyisle
So much fun! Keep the funky kitchen floor and counter. They suit the space and give a nod to the 'hippie' history that the place has obviously enjoyed.
5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
excitedt

Love the idea of a trolley being re-purposed instead of being recycled. Great colors and decor. I also would like to have seen what was done to the exterior.

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Kathy Dunn

Love this and the repurposing of the street cars.


5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
fightdunbird

good

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jsketch
Love all the quirkiness about it. What does it say about me if I also love the before pics?
4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
RNR Realty International

I love this, it is so cute!

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buster57

lidarose: you took the words right out of my mouth! And yes, some outside shots of how they are connected would be perfect. I so want to live in it.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
marshayarbrough
I remember a storybook as a child in which a school bus was turned into a home. This reminds me of the pictures in the story!
2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Susan

Need to see how all this looks from the outside, how it's situated on the lot, etc.

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
J Mulkern
What a great idea! We never had those in northern New England that would make a fantastic Beachhouse.
3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
gibbedittome

I think that tablecloth and its colors pull it all together nicely. This is such an historical situation that I would have really liked to read more about how they found it, did they rent it, buy it, what was the previous owners history with it, how close it is to the beach, it's history on how the cable cars got there, what the outside looks like...things like that. This is a vintage curiosity that every one would have loved to read about. Deep roots of a past. That place would have been totally cool to live there in the sixties! Those were the days I'll tell ya' NOTHING can beat that spirit and energy of those years! Hopefully it is still continuing there! I remember the Amusement Park by the Beach there: Anyone remember the House of Mirrors? That Laughing Lady at the boardwalk entry? She always had a crowd around her watching and I did my share of staring too. Wonder whatever happened to her....

7 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
abog
Very, very, very cool.
2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
loanlady

New take on a "mobile" home..


   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lindsay Liepold
What a great home with loads of character. Don't remove that kitchen floor tile, it's one of my favourite parts!
3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
memetaco
Good example of what happens when you don't employ a designer.
   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
joasiahuc
Love it! On the practical side, how does one get permits for nontraditional structures?
1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
maryringel

Thank you Houzz subscribers for all your wonderful comments. The purchase of the streetcars has truly been a labor of love restoring them to their full glory. We are not finished by any means but have made significant progress. In response to some of the questions and comments:The width of the streetcar in the living room is roughly 8 feet, but with the hallway between the two streetcars, the distance from the sofa to the tv is 9-10 ft. Very comfortable distance with the big screen up. The streetcars were constructed of solid redwood (hence they have lasted over 100 years) and they have wood paneling on the redwood so they are not like a mobile home in that sense. I suspect mobile homes don't last that long. The wheels are no longer on the bottom of the streetcars so the home is very stable on its foundation. The home is a 2 minute drive or a 10 min walk to the beach. We can get a faint smell of the ocean on a breezy day and can sometimes hear the seal lions barking at night, if we leave the window open.The tree house still stands in the ~ 200 year old oak tree and is very stable up there although we hear it creaking on windy days. We want to do something more with it, perhaps, a spiral winding multi level deck which allows our grandkids easier access. The jury is still out on whether access is a good idea since the tree house is about 25 feet high. We are definitely keeping the kitchen floor design but redoing it to fix uneven and overly tight grout lines and loose and cracked tiles. We recently had Houzz here to do a video shoot, which should be coming out soon. In the video, you will see the newly installed stained glass looking lighted panels in the streetcar roof. The video crew came out per your requests to get some history on the place and to show the outside of the property as well. We really don't have much information on the beginnings of the property. The streetcars are turned into a house in 1922. The previous owner had lived here for 16 years and we purchased the property about 6 months ago. We are going to go the Santa Cruz archives to see if we can get historical information on how the streetcars came to the property. It should be a fun search. Be on the lookout for the video shoot and more updates. Thanks again for all your lovely comments and questions. Mary and Gerhard

24 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
margofushille

You are the most awesome couple I have ever seen!

7 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Fernando Ramirez

I absolutely love how it is organized and decorated. It reminds me of a story book home with a ..."Happily ever after!!" I also adore the repurposing aspect of this house and the (mood setting) LED stained glass windows. Great idea!

6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
broekhuizen

You have really done a great job. I feel that your house is filled with love in each and every way! Many compliments from Mitzy from Holland!


8 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
kjziebell

Love the colors!


3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Stella Michael

Love the house, the couple, the fun, the colours, the creativity, love, playfulness, practicality, the warmth and so much more! Yes, a floor plan would be good too. Can't wait to see more pictures. I love that it was a video with the owners speaking, made it come to life even more ... although some pictures for reference would also be great. Thank you for sharing your fabulous home with us! One of the best I've seen on Houzz!

6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
donnaatgs

What a lovely story. I especially loved the humour that you could just hear in the homeowner's voice as she told their story with a smile. Although the variety of bright colours are not my style, they seem to suit this couple. Even more endearing when I heard that they have six grandchildren. What a fun "jewel box" for all of the children to visit and take away great memories to tell their own children in years to come.

9 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
melissa1231

Love the uniqueness of your home. Great colors and you did an amazing job with the space.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
karihailey
The video is wonderful! What a quirky and fun home.
3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
eydie

Beautiful Love Story all around, thank you!

6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Bette P

So jealous! Congrats on being able to downsize to 750 square feet! I live in Ontario Canada, so just our winter clothes take up a lot of room. This is a wonderful story. It would be nice to know that all the streetcars still exist, they would make great guesthouses or cottages. My husband has always wanted to renovate a traincar into a cottage. So nice to see both Mary & Gerhard, the right couple live here!

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
amirault

I love it! I just come home after every day of work but look forward to coming home to your paradise which is very inviting and warm. I would feel the same way coming home to your lovely cable car. Good for you!

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
love2skico

.....what life is all about! Thank you for sharing! I love it and everything a home should be!

7 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
silviakunst
Good for YOUUUU !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Rosemary Santner
How kool is this! I love what they have done to this. Very creative!
6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Hunter Hampton

I love, love, love this ...... I would sell my house in Florida and move into yours if you would let me. It's just way too cool. It has such a California beach vibe..... you are so fortunate to live in such a cool house.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
diyer59

I used to live in Santa Cruz County--this fits perfect with the "Cruzin'" lifestyle! Love it, very creative and colorful.


3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Maria Reedy

Fantastic use of color for the street car turned to beach home. It makes you feel happy looking at it and most likely living in it.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nancymacbride

Wow I love this!


5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
joebear2013

Beautiful home! So happy for the two of you! Enjoy!

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
emkay2

Beautiful!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jenna

Terrific video! I love the BOLD COLORS and the way you have organized and decorated the streetcar house. What a unique place! :)

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Lisa Sayers

LOVE this!!!! Love everything about it and how you decorated!


4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
johsmi

What a 180 from their mountain place. Very living outside the box (LOL) people. Lots of small places with lots of colors like this in Key West. Nice. I so admire their creativity.

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
dellone

Love the uniqueness and the solution for the ceiling lights! So playful and relaxed. It seems to be a perfect fit for the owners. We would love to have them for neighbors.

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Angela Francis Interiors, LLC

So much character in this home!


4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Susan Arlitt

Mary you are fantastic, and you have great energy. I could absolutely live in your amazing little streetcar. I love the colours, I love Gerhard's work (the light boxes are great!!!!), the whole enchilada is such a breath of fresh air. Excellent work!


6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Tresia Biagi

How cool! I want one.


6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
perroni
Very nice house with all you need
5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Patricia

Beautiful home and beautiful location!


7 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
jsipl

What a beautiful home. Your special touches have made it a showpiece. Well Done!

6 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
actullos
Thank up for adding some thoughtful backstory in the comments, Mary & Gerhard! I want to be one of your grandkids, lol! What a charming home and a wonderful way to downsize into retirement (I assume). Cheers and many years of happiness to you on your charming property!
5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
stratmister

Wow! we actually live less than 2hr from you and often visit our family in Aptos. It would be great if we could tour your gem if you should feel like showing it. My wife and daughter would go nuts over your color scheme!

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jan Yatsko

Fun, comfortable, colorful and out of the ordinary...just the way life should be lived! Would you ever want to trade houses for vacation???? We live in a colorful house filled with art and fine craft in Atenas, Costa Rica.


4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Susan Morris

One of the best houses I have ever seen. Thank you for making it available to us. Fun to dream of doing a project with my husband like you both did. I love the heart light on the kitchen floor. It is the heart of the house. Perfect job. I would love to have you as our neighbor.


5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nokomomz

Great inspiration in so many ways!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sheila Epstein

I would take this house any day of the week! Love it!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
nancey

I love it!

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
rayme

Fantastic!

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
changeisprimo

Beautiful home. I love the quirky little corners and original streetcar parts.


4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
horsemagicc

This is so fun! And perfect for the beach! Just love it!

5 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Alice Costa-Sievert

What an amazing home, I love it!!!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
saminmio

I could live in this house in a New York minute. It's gorgeous and so one of a kind.

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Oly Lam

Beautiful home great taste !! Congratulations !!!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
craigmerrow

Just watched the video - it was a lot of fun! It's nice to see and hear the owners discuss their home and give a tour of the place. After watching it, I can really appreciate why they enjoy their home so much!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Laurawella Allenlina Mitchell

Wow! I'd love to retire to a small but functional home like these :)

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mccrackenmk

I would love to live in a cable car house like yours! Beautiful!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mattb325

Gosh I just love your home. It just looks like so much fun and it so refreshing to see something so different!

4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Sherry Mitchell
Love, love, love...did I say I love it! Fun use of colours.
3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
marciahasbrouck

Thought this was brilliant! Colorful, cozy and fun!


4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
shobli

HoUsE OF HeArTSssss....... The 2 body 1 Soul House CAR which runs on Wheel of Mary and Gerhard....

A happy couple makes a happy home & family. And that's the only reason the place they resides becomes as blissful as your home.

Lovely home & excellent interiors :)

Regards - Shobha

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
mamabear2014

This place is adorable! I really enjoyed the article. Good luck with your fun project!

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
countrylook

Gerhard, you and Mary have a great, unique home to show for your labor of love. Could you provide any details on how you made the light boxes and the wiring system for the LED's? Thanks, Linda

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
msdeveau

Mary I wish you and your wonderful Husband many year of happiness in your wonderful Love Nest....I love everything about it....I am sure your Grandchildren love it as well.. You both did a wonderful job....unique and cozy....you have it all! Enjoy!!!!!

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Charles Reed

Awesome!


4 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Susie Cochran

As a fellow Santa Cruzan I simply LOVE what you've done with the old streetcars. I love the video too! Thanks for showing all these Houzzers the blend of quirkiness and beauty that is Santa Cruz.

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Decor & Diapers

Yes, as a proud banana slug from UCSC- this is just so Santa Cruz!


1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
bludenz

Super...Gerhard!

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
renges

How wonderful that you were able to accomplish something so special and fun to you personally and at the same time build a home that will provide amazing opportunities and memories for your children and grandchildren. Pat yourself on the back and take a bow!!!!

3 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
buster57

Just one thing wrong with it....I AM NOT LIVING IN IT!!! OMG this is just beautiful and perfect.

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
renges

How many square feet total is this place?

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Joanna Nowaczyk

I love this idea ?

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Am Construction Service Inc

Good job!

1 Like    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Philips Patton

My favorite part of that house is actually the backyard / "Ecovillage" I wonder why they didn't talk about the cob buildings and such back there. Anyway, thanks for taking care of one of my favorite S.C. homes! (I'm friends with the previous owner)

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
PRO
Kathleen Shaeffer Design, Exterior Spaces

Wow! Wonderful!

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Laura Burnette

The streetcar at the beach is maybe my most favorite home ever. I love the thought of living in a caboose or a streetcar. Your design ideas are so wonderful and comfortable and whimsical. That is some accomplishment, and you chose to live there, truely LIVE there. I am so happy for you. Then I find out it is in Santa Cruz, sounds like you made it to heaven.

2 Likes    
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Angela Michele
This has to be one of the best ideas, can't believe it was a bus before.
   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Karen Danyluk

Absolutely love!! Thank you for sharing!

   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
yocheved schubert

absolutely amazing

   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
yocheved schubert

I love it

   
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jan Ferris
Love it! As an artist/psychologist, I often use color as a mood enhancer. The quirky nature of the streetcar adds to the whole, unique gestalt. Lots of fun and it all works.