Friday, January 27, 2012

Shipping Container Cabin Update

A post I wrote about shipping container homes (which you can find here) in May of last year gets lots and lots of hits every day - like often up to seven times as many hits as the next most popular post.  That's a lot of interest in shipping container homes!  I'm not surprised at the interest in shipping container homes, though, because they are just so inspiring.  I would love to get my hands on a couple of shipping containers and do a little creating myself.  Of course, that isn't going to happen anytime soon (although you notice I'm not ruling it out for the future) so I have to satisfy my interest by keeping up on other people's container homes. 

I contacted the owner of this wonderful cabin that I showed in my original post to see if he would mind me using more of his photos in a blog post.  Well not only was Steve (see how I'm on a first name basis with him now) pleased to let me use his photos, but he took a bunch more for me as well.  It turns out Steve is married to a Speech-Language Pathologist so you can see why he would be so charming - it goes with the territory.  

Last fall Steve and his wife painted the exterior a warm beige colour (good choice Steve's wife) and have been working away completing the interior.  I'm excited to welcome you inside Steve's little cabin in the woods.  I have uploaded both labeled and unlabeled floor plans so you can have an idea what direction the pictures are taken.

This is the view from the front door looking over to the right to the sofa (a pull-out bed) and chair in the sitting area.  You can also see the bedroom through the doorway on the left.  The ceiling shows the corrugated grooves from the shipping containers.

I love the simple white kitchen - white kitchens are always my favourite!

Behind the curtain is the bathroom/utility/storage room.

A nice little wood stove is tucked into the corner to keep things warm.

I understand the desk is going to have a half-wall built behind it to separate the front entrance from the living room.

And finally, looking out the windows to the forest.

... and the forest. 

I've been studying these photos and peppering Steve with questions about the details of his cabin so I thought I would share what I have learned.

Steven's main concerns were to keep the costs down and to make the cabin easy to maintain.   He chose to build using shipping containers because of security issues.  When he leaves his cabin, he simply closes and locks the doors at the end of each of the three containers.  There are no other windows or doors so it pretty much morphs from sweet little cabin to Fort Knox.

The cabin is off-the-grid so is powered primarily by solar panels.  The microwave oven that you can see in some of the kitchen pictures will soon be going as it is run on the generator that is being used while the construction is going on.  He has installed a two-burner stove and may purchase an oven that cooks on the stovetop and is very popular with the boating community.  He was unable to find a refrigerator that would work on the solar panels so he is using a small Coleman cooler that runs on a battery and is kept in the storage room and he may upgrade down the road.  For more kitchen details read this post.

Steven is in the process of looking into restoring an old well that is on the property.  Even if the water is not drinkable, it will be very useful for washing up etc.  There are plans to install a water system with a storage tank in the bathroom/storage room and build a homemade shower in there as well.  The problem with most water systems is dealing with them in the winter so Steve is looking to install an indoor water system that can be used in the winter with minimal fuss.  At the present time he brings in water to use for drinking and cooking and they have an outhouse.  You can see in the photo below the temporary water system he has in the kitchen using a vintage water cooler. 

I think this little cabin is great - it's kind of like the Boxcar children meet IKEA (did you ever read that story?  Kate and I both read it when she was young and loved it).   You can read more details and see the progress pictures on Steve's blog, Tin Can Cabin.  

This is definitely a cabin I'll be keeping my eyes on to see how it develops and changes as Steve and his wife use it.


  1. This is so cool, and how nice that you were able to speak directly with the owners! What a coincidence that his wife and you do the same job. Thanks for showing us this, I must have missed your first post on it so I'm glad I caught this one!

    Kat :)

  2. That is darling! It really appeals to this "over 50" who would like both simplicity and solitude.... well a little of both anyway.

    And yes, we loved The Boxcar Children; still have the books packed away downstairs.

  3. What a creative cabin! It just goes to show how functional a small space can be if one sets one's mind to it.

  4. That was soooo fun, I went to his blog because I was trying to find out if this was his full time home or holiday spot and what the cost was.....who takes the top bunk LOL!


  5. What a great idea.... we have been thinking about something along the same line. It is great to see other ideas.

  6. Thanks for this, love the bunk beds - our home was damaged in the Christchurch earthquake and we will be moving into a container soon to get it fixed. 3 small kids and 2 adults - one 40 foot container...all ideas gratefully received !!

  7. This cabin design is really great! I'd love to copy it, perhaps with an additional 20 ft container as basement for additional storage space down by the kitchen and maybe some smaller space in some kind of attic. Some details about cost, floor and inner walls would be helpful. Did Steve complete the interior fittings himself or did he employ a professional carpenter? I'd probably need to find a cheaper solution replacing the owner's very nice wooden floors etc. I like the odd appearance of the cabin with the main gates closed - it looks more like a power substation than a dwelling. The gates as additional security feature are really comforting - I'd like mechanisms in place enabling me to close and lock them from inside (I may want to hide in my personal Fort Knox at times...). It's very nice that Steve has permitted to publish the drawings for the public's ready reference. Thanks, Grace!

    With regards, Markus

  8. Over 50? Lol... I'm 32 and find this idea amazing. I'm a truck driver so I see containers on a daily basis. I can't see one with out visualizing in my head what i would do with it. Instead of paint, I'd probably consider doing a roll-on or spray on bed-liner type of material, depending on the cost. I really liked what he did leaving the doors on, but I'd probably want windows in the side, since it would be a full time home for me and my wife, and hopefully a few kids...

  9. What a great work is this. A container turn fantastic house?whoa what an amazing job you had. I like the features of this property and hope to have that one someday :) Thank you.

  10. Love the concept of sealing-it-shut when away (by keeping the existing container doors) - but doesn't the lack of egress in the sleeping area violate most fire codes?

  11. The home looks simple yet cozy! You could get the chance to check out other great designs for homes by checking out websites such as

  12. Walls from the containers were removed to open the interior. Couldn't the left over material be used to form a skirting, around the base? That skirting could help keep animals, pests and vegetation from taking up residence beneath the structure and could help with the heating during cold months.