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Most unusual homes 2021: converted railway carriage, gothic clock and water tower among top homes of the year

·5-min read
 (Adrian Lourie)
(Adrian Lourie)

From unique abodes to spectacular renovations, we all love a good nosey inside a quirky home.

Whether it’s a grand flat in London with original Victorian features, or a converted railway carriage on the Kent coast, these incredible properties are an inspiration to homeowners everywhere.

And, since we’re all taking to our homes more than in pre-pandemic times, it’s no wonder we want to make our residences as welcoming as possible, taking on renovation work or simply putting our stamp on a unique property.

For more house inspo, take a look at some of 2021’s most incredible homes...

Converted Victorian railway carriage

When Frances Herrod spotted an old railway carriage for sale in Dungeness, she snapped up the chance to put down roots there.

The graphic designer and her father, a civil engineer, built a timber frame around the structure, added a new roof to protect it and extended the rear of the carriage, revealing original touches along the way — such as the number two painted on the door to signal the carriage’s former second-class status and a ‘smoking’ sign on the window.

Now, having relocated to Cumbria, she put the house on the market with The Modern House for £425,000.

An American airstream trailer

For anyone wanting to live out their American dream or who might just need an extra space, an Airstream Overlander for sale in east London could make the perfect home from home.

The aluminium coated aircraft-style home is on the market for £145,000, through Aucoot, after the owners dropped the price by £24,000.

The renovated trailer is kitted out with a bedroom at one end, a fully-fitted kitchen, dining table/second bed and parquet flooring throughout.

Stylish narrowboat on the Regent’s Canal

Narrowboats are often an affordable option for buyers with a tight budget, and one such boat was listed for sale in September.

The stylish tiny home, temporarily moored on the Regent’s Canal, wowed potential buyers with its price tag of £125,000, but its cheap price comes at a cost, as the boat doesn’t have a permanent mooring.


Olive the narrowboat’s architectural designer owners completely kitted out the space, with minimalist decor and plenty of space-saving add-ons.

Not only that but a neutral palette and olive green exterior will provide the warmest welcome for anyone stepping aboard.

A minimalist modern home

A once-rotten hut was transformed into a minimalist modern home by Edinburgh couple Ian and Jenny.

Set within the walled garden of an historic Scottish estate, the spectacular home featured in an episode of Grand Designs, as viewers watched the couple’s attempts to convert an old gardener’s bothy into their forever home.

Ian and Jenny had the added pressure of the bothy’s status as a listed building, meaning it had to stay completely intact and look the same on the outside as it always did.

They attempted to rescue the rotten hut, attaching it to a new, low-slung box with a wall running between the two structures, but the renovation paid off.

The unique family home now includes a light-filled kitchen and living space with floor-to-ceiling windows and the original wall has become a feature in its own right.

Quirky gatehouse once owned by Dick Whittington

One for history buffs is this quirky gatehouse on the edge of a Medieval Cotswolds estate.

Listed for sale in August, the Grade-II listed property was on the market for £700,000 and was once owned by the original Dick Whittington, on whom the pantomime character is set to be largely based.

The three-storey tower includes a roof terrace and half an acre of land, plus panoramic views from its many windows.

The house dates back to 1820 and was designed by royal architect Sir Jeffry Wyatville.

Modernist lighthouse

An extraordinary lighthouse featured on the “saddest ever” episode of Grand Designs is to be listed for sale.

The north Devon property is set to be completed at the end of 2021 and will have a guide price of £10 million.

 (Alan Phillips)
(Alan Phillips)

The listing will feature a three-bedroom guesthouse built into the rock face, as well as the lighthouse itself.

Sadly the epic project cost owner Edward more than he bargained for, as he revealed on the show that he and wife Hazel had split after spiraling costs, debts of over £4 million and extensive delays caused damage to their relationship.

Victorian clock tower

Film fans lapped up the news that a flat in a clock tower that stood in for King’s Cross Station in the second Harry Potter film was on the market in June.

The two-bedroom, two-bathroom flat is the only property within the gothic revival building with its original Victorian painted ceiling intact.

 (UK Sotheby’s International Realty)
(UK Sotheby’s International Realty)

The majestic property boasts views over the rooftops of King’s Cross and original station doors throughout. It dates from the 1870s and was listed at £4.6 million.

A modern conversion

A converted water tower in Leicestershire went on sale for £595,000 in February.

The spectacular home, in a Victorian water tower, was originally built to serve the market town of Ashby-de-la-Zouch before falling into disrepair.

After an extensive renovation — with modern extensions and the original water valve — the three-bedroom home was the most-viewed property on Rightmove in January.

And it’s no surprise as to why. The Grade-II listed tower won an architectural award in 2016, for best conversion of an existing building.

Other incredible features include a limestone floor, a mezzanine bedroom suite and attic workshop.

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