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Two Shipping Containers Turned into a Small House

If you’re like me you don’t just like tiny houses.


I happen to like all sorts of unique shelters in all kinds of shapes and sizes.

But usually for me the smaller the better because I like efficiency and the idea of not going beyond our needs too much.

In this post I’m going to show you an example of what can be done with a couple of recycled shipping containers.

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See how this architect turned two reclaimed containers into a beautiful, eco-friendly small house:

 

Shipping Container Home

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Space in the Living Room still Opens up to the Outside

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Outdoor Deck Space

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Interior of the Container House

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Minimalist Kitchen in a Container House

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Photo credits Price Street Projects

To me there’s so much to like about this house. I like the modern look and feel combined with a sort of rustic reclaimed vibe that it has.

The color white, for me, always works well. And I really like how you can still open up the container doors to bring the outside in. Especially in good weather.

I also like the exposed beams and I love the structure they built to combine the two containers and make the entire thing one awesome home.

What’s your favorite part about this container house?

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Alex

Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!




{ 53 comments… add one }
  • Cahow August 13, 2013, 8:51 am

    Boy, Alex, you converted me to lovin’ on a container home with these photos! I’m quite keen on both the exterior quirkiness and the supreme openess and light of the interior. Other container homes I’ve seen just haven’t cut it for me: they were just one container and had light coming in from only each end; no windows along the length. Being claustrophobic, I couldn’t live in such a dark interior.

    Ah, if I were single, this could be my home. But, I won’t trade in my honey for a shipping container; he likes stick-built homes and more traditional living spaces. I can still <3 on it, however. πŸ˜‰

    This is light, bright, spacious and the kitchen is to die for! Followed you link to the architect; pity that it's the same photos as you've shared. Would have LOVED to see the bedrooms, loo and floor plan. I hate when there's only a limited amount of photos to inspire a person when 10 minutes more of taking photos could have supplied a more complete appreciation.

    • sandwichbear August 14, 2013, 12:51 pm

      One container is on the narrow side, but two containers takes care of that. The center section is icing on the cake.

      I’ve been thinking obsessively about small simple living spaces for many years. One of my focuses has been on converting box trucks that will no longer be used on the road. If the engine is running poorly, you can get one inexpensively and limp it to a final resting spot on your land, where it will live to serve a new purpose. (Like Mike Mulligan’s steam shovel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Z1R5vDG2Tg)

      It also occurred to me that two box trucks could be parked head to toe with the boxes almost touching. The meeting faces could be removed and framed, which would effectively double the interior space. The joint on the outside could be protected with a roll of instant roof (the best product ever), rendering it almost invisible.

      The resulting product would be an optical illusion. What looks like two beat up box trucks could conceal a clean and stylish interior.

      I had these thoughts when I was brainstorming inexpensive urban alternatives to overpriced row homes. Empty lots with good privacy are affordable, whereas lots with any technically-livable structure sell for ten times as much. I was thinking in terms of stealth. For stealth, all windows would have to face the non-street side of the house. Skylights would be abundant. Access would be through the cab of one of the trucks.

      I’m not longer thinking about urban stealth. I wish somebody else would do this.

  • Katie August 14, 2013, 12:30 pm

    I LOVE this! I still haven’t heard from anyone about whether or not there are any design concepts like this for families with children. I have three children, but would love to live in a “small” house like this.

    • Onederlamb April 30, 2014, 6:44 pm

      Katie, I’m with you. I have six children and I’m looking for something like this too! I wish there was someone out there who had some plans or ideas for families.

      • Pat July 30, 2014, 7:30 pm

        Just add a couple more containers. Maybe stack them for an upstairs. Maybe 3 down and 2 up

        • Ian December 10, 2015, 2:22 pm

          Put those containers underground and make yourself a underground bunker home for the up coming Apocalypse.

  • LaMar Alexander LaMar August 14, 2013, 12:53 pm

    Nice design on the interior and I like the open space.

    I have helped design and build a few shipping container homes and there are lots of ways they can be modified. Insulating can be done with foam board and I would insulate that ceiling.

    I designed one that is insulated with strawbales on the outside and stucco for a super insulated and strong shipping container home.

    LaMar

    • Mike August 14, 2013, 5:34 pm

      LaMar, I’d love to know how you protected the metal exterior from moisture with the strawbales up against the container, and what is done to keep animals from nesting inside the straw bales. I really, really want to experiment with using straw for building up the outside walls of a structure.

      • LaMar Alexander LaMar August 14, 2013, 5:52 pm

        Hi Mike, the strawbales are left 1 inch space from the container and that space is filled with pea gravel. for drainage. The bales sit on a gravel and rail road tie base and the stucco extends to the ground so rodents can’t get in.

        LaMar

    • Matt October 27, 2013, 7:50 pm

      LaMar,
      I am working on a container modification. I would like to finish the interior w/ drywall. I am not sure how the drywall / studs are attached to the walls.
      Are there any references on how to build out and finish containers & interiors you know of? Any advise welcome.
      https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/-lStFXup7b7M/Um2hChkII2I/AAAAAAAAErk/tIm9YL0ryuA/s640/IMG_0829.JPG
      Matt

      • Dave November 4, 2013, 9:34 pm

        Here’s the best detailed building walk-through I have found. He goes into detail on his recommended interior wall method (wood 2×3 studs, and spray insulation).
        http://www.tincancabin.com/

        This site is a very valuable resource, as it walks through the complete construction, start to finish.

        • Alex Pino November 4, 2013, 10:10 pm

          Thanks Dave I’m checking it out now — looks great so far!

  • Pamela August 14, 2013, 3:50 pm

    This is fabulous! Are both containers 20 footers or are they different? You’ve really taken container living to a new level. Wonderful!

  • April H August 14, 2013, 6:11 pm

    I love this! As for the “minimalist” kitchen, that is bigger and better than the kitchen I have in my home! The little end on the right side could be walled off with a door to make a second small bedroom! Very important to me, as I have a disabled adult daughter that lives with me and most likely always will. The clean lines and spacious feel gets a huge thumbs up from me!

  • Debbie K. August 14, 2013, 10:08 pm

    Every day home from “the Rat Race” in Atlanta, GA, I pass a shipping container ……and I remember the day of my life that I traded in exchange for getting closer to a Tiny Home of sorts that is debt free and sending me on a luxurious cruise in life to that which is simple, pure and all that is a reflection of myself. “Less Is More” and I am making my journey toward living LARGE with less ‘stuff!’

  • Doc August 14, 2013, 10:45 pm

    I love reusing these containers. Saw a news program some time ago for their use after Katrina. Seems with our trade imbalance with china we have a huge surplus in the US. Seems they are too costly to ship back empty. Though by no means small these homes reused the containers and are a safe building alternative. They involved two containers per home. Cement pilings are poured with steel plates on top with the containers welded to the plates. The containers placed about 12′ apart. Huricane tabs welded to tops of each container @ 16″ on center. Conventional truss covers both containers as well as the clear span between. Stick built walls between at either end. Double insulated Rv style windows were used. Insulation was provided via energy and space saving ceramic insulating paint. With a plasma cutter the layout can be as open or divided as you choose. They reported that this construction method could withstand a direct hurricane hit. Tried to find video link but no luck. These finished homes could fit into any community. Perhaps even in your backyard so to speak. Oh, and they’re cheap to build this way!

  • Carlana August 15, 2013, 8:44 pm

    Really nice. Gives me great ideas for our next shipping container home.

  • George.B August 22, 2013, 10:24 am

    Don’t want to rain on the parade, but isn’t this just a rather cruder version of architect Benjamin Garcia Saxe’s original “Containers of Hope”?

    https://www.google.com/search?q=containers+of+hope&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=dh4WUpXvKLHZigLm2YDoCw&sqi=2&ved=0CDoQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=635

    • Joe August 24, 2013, 10:58 pm

      Sure looks like it, and it also looks like the Containers of Hope would be a more expensive version. I kinda like the fact that the one featured on this page doesn’t attempt to hide its origins. The only thing that would bother me is the fact that the opening mechanisms for the shipping container doors are still on the outside. Guess there would be ways to secure that.

      • Doc August 24, 2013, 11:08 pm

        Joe,
        You could easily secure the doors but you bring up a problem I see revealed in you question. Could someone close you inside with that mechanism with no release to let you out of there???
        Hmmmmm???

        • Joe August 25, 2013, 2:15 pm

          I think I see at least three sliding glass doors, Doc. So that shouldn’t be a problem.

  • di September 26, 2013, 1:49 pm

    I like this open concept with the glass doors and skylights extending the space.

    I prefer windows spanned across an entire kitchen counter.

    I prefer to position furniture and windows to enjoy the outdoor view.

  • cy February 6, 2014, 5:08 pm

    I do love the house!!! Way cool. Do these tiny houses have bathrooms and bedrooms?
    thanks-
    cy

    • Bdubz February 11, 2014, 1:11 am

      @ CY….On the 5th picture down from top picture you can see the bedroom in back to the right and what appears also to be a bathroom entrance just in front of that on the same side.

  • bobby joe February 7, 2014, 9:50 am

    the problem I have is the cost I can build a nice big house for the price of these. the moble ones u can buy a nice big camper for half of the cost of these. but I do enjoy looking at them designs are great.

  • Bdubz February 11, 2014, 1:09 am

    Great design! This home makes container homes look very attractive!

  • David February 24, 2014, 1:39 pm

    I love the idea. A unique architectural concept.

  • Steve Gibson March 8, 2014, 7:32 pm

    I really like the looks of this two container home but have a problem withe cost of such a home. I thought one of the main reasons for a container home is a huge cost savings. The quotes for the costs of most great looking container homes I’ve seen are most often more expensive than conventional construction. I’ll bet this two container home is north of $150,000 not including land.

    • Cahow March 9, 2014, 1:15 pm

      Hi, Steve. My comment is neutral and not intended to be dismissive nor snarky. Regarding your comment: ” I thought one of the main reasons for a container home is a huge cost savings.” Like anything in life, you can go as Low or High scale as your budget and conscience dictates. I know that I deeply appreciate seeing both ends of the scale but I lean more heavily toward the upscale end of design because that’s what makes my family happy and we can afford it.

      If all that Tiny House blogs showcased were low end, bare knuckle tiny homes on wheels with exposed plywood walls, a futon, a water jug and a sawdust bucket, the audience that would draw inspiration for downsizing would be miniscule. However, featuring the occasional tiny home, whether it’s a yurt, container home, straw bale, or stick construction, in the higher realm’s of income can inspire people WITH the money to downsize from a McMansion to a more logical and environmentally-friendly tiny dwelling. Plus, for those of us who are “into it”–seeing well done interiors where money is NO object can inspire most of us. Whether we outright purchase the items, barter for them, go to craigslist or Dumpster Dive, who knows what inspiration these high end homes can provide?

      As an architect who specializes in add-ons to high end homes in Chicago, I am constantly repurposing away hundreds of thousands of dollars of fixtures, appliances, wood paneling and windows per year to my friends and family. So, using me as a resource, my friends and family can easily achieve the look of “money” by simply picking up the items that would end up being trashed and using their own sweat, having a beautiful home, in the end. On my latest redo, I took out $15,000 of Kohler bathroom fixtures because the new owner HATED the Jet Black colour that the previous owner loved. I sold them for $2,000.00 to my best friend who installed them in his own home this Winter. HIS old fixtures went to create a brand new bathroom in his finished basement. So, you see…Win/Win for everyone!

      And since we all have Free Will, you are certainly within your rights to create a container home as low cost as makes you happy. πŸ˜€

      • Doc March 9, 2014, 6:58 pm

        Cahow!
        Thought you fell off the world wide web!
        Couldn’t agree with you more here. I have seen the bare plywood that shows how frugal I can build. Then I have seen the wonderful architectural details in jays homes. I love to see what you could do with any budget. That’s the stuff tiny dreams are made of. πŸ™‚
        We will likely build somewhere in between.
        Again, good to see your words.
        Doc

        • Cahow March 13, 2014, 6:55 pm

          Dearest Doc: Hello, friend! Wonderful to see YOU, too!

          I actually had fallen off the Web for several months for two radically different reasons: 1) I upgraded my browser and once that was done, I could no longer access ANY sites…not this one, not my BANK, not my utilities…NOTHING! I had to bring my laptop to a computer expert, have him strip out the software and download my old browser. Now, it works like a charm. πŸ˜€
          And then there’s reason #2: On New Year’s Day, I took a devastating spill and ended up in hospital for several weeks and rehab for 2 months! Four cracked ribs, brutal blunt force trauma to my internal organs and a severely bruised hip bone. πŸ™ I could only lay down or walk with a cane for all of Jan/Feb; couldn’t sit to save my soul. I’m healed now and can sit for a bit of time; still in rehab to build back my strength.

          I can honestly say, I’ve never been SO happy to NOT be climbing a ladder to a bed; I simply couldn’t have managed a single tread!

          I’ve been able to read Alex’s blog and the postings but it was too taxing to tap out a reply on my tablet. So, it’s nice to be back and even more comforting to see you here. Now, where’s Ralph Sly? I’ve not seen a single post from him. I’ll be looking forward to reading more of your comments, Doc! πŸ˜€

        • Doc March 15, 2014, 4:43 pm

          Cahow,
          Sorry to hear about your misfortunes, glad to hear you survived them! I have seen Mr sly here and there, but Alex took the dates off the postings, so some may be older, you can’t tell from when.
          Look forward to some informed dialogue again!
          P.s.
          No more skydiving without a parachute!
          We’ll talk soon! On the next cool house Alex posts. πŸ™‚
          Doc

        • Cahow March 16, 2014, 10:37 am

          Hello, Doc. I noticed the dates were gone and am sad about that loss. Some postings are years old and when I see the dates, I don’t post. No way to know when they were written; curious as to “WHY?” Alex removed them, considering that Facebook comments are both time and date stamped. Oh well, he must have his reasons.

        • Doc March 16, 2014, 12:30 pm

          He’s just being green, they’re recyclable that way. Still glad to see you up and about here!

  • Diana March 19, 2014, 8:55 pm

    I don’t necessarily believe that one needs a lot of money to create a home that looks ‘rich’. Between all the many hours I have spent in IKEA (where I got my first introduction to the idea of a ‘tiny home’ as they have a VERY SPACIOUS 2 bdrm home displayed in about a 596 sq ft area), GREAT ideas I have learned from other brilliant minds on sites such as this, a natural creative ‘flair’ (creativity in one way shape or form runs in my family for many generations) and a sharp eye for what is appealing to the human eye and spirit….I have re-created my space to look GREAT on a very tight budget. I’ve had a lot of compliments and even a few requests to come and recreate others’ spaces! I just can’t wait until the day comes that I can build my own Tiny Home where I will create a warm,cozy home that is so open and full of natural light that it will FEEL twice as big as it is and be as GREEN and as SELF SUFFICIENT as I possibly can make it! Who knows….maybe one day my Tiny Home will have the priviledge of making it onto this site where I can share what I have learned from so many wonderfully wise and brilliant minds, having meshed them with my unique ideas and my own ‘creative flair’!

    • Laura July 19, 2014, 9:54 pm

      Agreed! If you buy/build a tiny home you are in control of your costs vs needs vs desires. I know I’m going to be able to afford a lot more luxury for the tiny home while still buying a lot less “things” in general. When the space is small you can afford your dream items or your high end design item(s) you just can’t buy all of them because there is not enough room. It’s forced editing, but for people who are creative and who have a strong aesthetic it won’t be a problem.

  • IamSam May 6, 2014, 10:58 pm

    How much did this particular house cost to make?

  • CathyAnn May 22, 2014, 9:41 pm

    Of all the container homes I’ve seen on the Internet, this one is my favorite. I could live in this space very comfortably.

  • Elle June 18, 2014, 2:24 pm

    This is just plain lovely, smart, clean-lined, efficient and the setting is perfect. Love it.

  • Elle July 2, 2014, 6:29 pm

    Also, forgot to say that I’d like to know how much THIS house cost to build–not the land cost; not the landscaping costs; not the cost to pull electric from the road or anything so specific to the location–just the building costs to complete the home on this spot.

    I have to say. I’m annoyed by the consistent and constant rebuff received when anyone asks about the cost of homes such as this one. We all know costs vary from location to location. I’m asking for a ball-park construction cost figure for the home being presented, not the extras predicated on location. Even when dreaming or being inspired by a great design the cost matters. In order to determine if a design/building technique is within your budget potential one must have a mental figure to jockey with for a starting point.

  • Ysenia August 15, 2014, 7:29 pm

    Hello there! WOW! WOW! What do you require to have 1 like this? Do you build the in any states, like Massachusetts, Florida ect…? And how much for a little bit bigger one? Since I heard about small tiny house, I can’t stop looking at them i,am obsess with your beautiful art of work.

  • Fran August 28, 2014, 9:44 am

    It looks fantastic. What a great use of the containers. In my climate, it would be like an oven, though, with so much exposed, uninsulated metal. I’d have to paint the exterior, too.

    • Doc August 29, 2014, 3:41 pm

      Fran, there’s a new ceramic paint that also insulates. But many of these are framed out inside and insulation added. FYI

  • Atwas911 September 6, 2014, 9:45 pm

    This little house is perfect.. well.. except for one thing..
    With all that you’ve done.. Would it have really have killed you to get a few extra gallons of paint and cover up that blue rusted exterrior?

  • Kaleb October 17, 2014, 11:47 am

    I think the first time I saw this I was thinking that three containers could provide 2 bedroom and 2 bath in a U shaped formation and having a deck in the U with 3 sets of glass doors plenty of light should fill the containers. Then using the end doors that butt up against the third unit, they could provide a secure door for the deck. Just some thoughts.

  • Kelly Libert October 17, 2014, 2:39 pm

    Of all the tiny homes I have seen, this one remains my favorite. I like some details from others and would modify this one a bit (too much space devoted to kitchen), but when I am trolling for land, this is the house that I always have in mind to put there.
    I would add a third container with the side cut out for vehicle shelter and a place to store winter tires, lawn and garden equipment, etc.

  • Glen October 19, 2014, 8:16 am

    Here is a container home that a couple could easily inhabit. A beautiful open and airy interior makes this place a standout.

  • eileen nuelle October 23, 2014, 12:57 am

    Cost pls

  • rita July 6, 2016, 4:34 pm

    Hello, I know this is an old post–but I am hoping you are still hanging around to answer comments. I have some questions I am hoping you can answer for me.
    1. about how much did it cost?
    2. are you in a climate that would be fine for the shipping container?
    3. how is it on sound and such?
    4. did you have to put it on land that has no covenants for build?
    Thanks kindly,
    R

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