The year I spent turning a trash house into a cozy wagon home

March 30 | Guest post by Click Clack Gorilla

Click Clack Gorilla's been blogging for a LONG TIME about her family's life in German wagenplatz. Today, read her summary of renovating the wagon she lives in.

Over the last year I've gutted and renovated this once-trash house into my new wagon. Frankly, I am astounded that I'm really finished — well, finished enough to be sleeping in trash house, lighting the wood stove in trash house, and gazing around the room looking at the physical reality of what I've been imagining for over a year. Technically I'm not really finished — someday soon the pleas of my frozen feet will be too loud to ignore and I will insulate the floor — but as far as daily life goes, trash house is ready to have a bottle of champagne smashed against her snow-bobbled buttocks.

So here are some before-and-after pictures for your consideration. May they astound you the way that comparing my memories of the last year to the present astounds me.

Once upon a wagon…


When I first got trash house home from Rüsselsheim after digging her out of the garden where she'd spent the last 20 years she looked like this. My very own sleeping beauty, given to me for zero euro because sometimes people would rather just be rid of something than to do the work of taking it with them when they move.

My first task was to insulate the walls. She was stripped out and defiled some months later.

And today she's parked in a new spot, covered in snow, and bedecked with a wind chime.

The siding was born of an ex-ceiling from my partner's mother's house. The hose carries water from the rain gutter and into the rain barrel that will make watering my garden next summer exponentially easier. The hose is from the trash, the barrel is from the trash, the ladder, the candle holder, trash, trash, trash, etc., usw, et. al.

In the picture below you can see the one side I managed to cover with the original boards (only one side's worth of boards survived the crow bar's wrath and my impatience), and the end I sided with boards from the ex-ceiling.

Most of them were kind of fucked, so next summer will probably see another brief re-siding project. My neurotic side wishes that all four sides looked exactly the same, but since I usually don't have to look at them all at once, and I like having saved some of those purdy original boards, my neurosis' twitchy pleas for further symmetry remain quiet enough to ignore.

And, lo!, please note the glass that graces the bed-side window. Oo la la.

So friends, you've seen the ads, now let's take a look inside.

First, the climactic before photo. Summer 2009: Note the small window to your right, the unpleasantly bland wall and ceiling color, and the cardboard-brown color of the floor for future comparison.

Shortly after hauling trash house home from Rüsselsheim, I filled her innards with huge Styrofoam bits that I intended to slice into insulation-sized pieces. Those blocks ended up back in the trash where I'd found them after I discovered that cutting Styrofoam is a big, messy, pain in the arse. Many other objects have come from (and gone back to) the trash since. I even made 40 euros selling what it turned out I didn't need at the flea market for 50 cents a pop.

Today: VOILA! Lived in, cheerful, and filled with the crap I call my possessions.

As seen when facing in the opposite direction (with my back to the door), before the make-over:

And don't forget the big fucking hole in the wall where I had to cut out some scary sponge mold! Wasn't that a blast! Does the fun ever start?! (Ugh.)

Here today, gone tomorrow. Hot, hot damn.

And there you have it folks, a fugue in wagon minor, a year's worth of learned building skills, and an incredible amount of timely dumpster dived resources: my finished house. And the best part? The even better bestest of the best part? The whole thing — the house, moving costs, building materials, and tools — cost me under 1000 euros.

Trash house: check. Trash book: pending. Whew. Finally I'll have time to think about something else.

  1. wow! that is fantastic! looks so… freeing!

    3 agree
  2. That is so cool! You did a great job turning something beat up and busted into an awesome space!

    1 agrees
  3. I am in complete and utter awe of the giant stones it takes to undertake a project of this magnitude! I'm a small project only kind of girl, this would scare the bejesus out of me

    3 agree
  4. Oooh… very cool & fascinating… [salivates at prospect of book with more details]

    2 agree
  5. This is cool. I am curious about plumbing. Do you have a bathroom? Kitchen? MOAR PLEASE!

    2 agree
    • HOPEfully CCG will have time to come in and answer, but either way: I totally recommend following her blog. I don't remember if those questions are answered there, but it's a great read. I love following Click Clack Gorilla's very offbeat life.

      2 agree
  6. This is fantastic….it almost tempts me out of my apartment and into a wagon!

    1 agrees
  7. Oh! I've just discovered that I want a cozy wagon home of my own :-) Awesome job!

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  8. This is great! I actually met Click Clack in 2009 when we were both backpacking in Prague. We stayed at a mutual friend's place for about a week together. Thanks for helping friends reconnect!

    0 agree

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