Shipping Container


Early in the planning stages of our move to simplicity, Roy realized the need for secure storage on the property. After researching options, he purchased a 53′ shipping container from a company in Atlanta. In the beginning, it kept our tools and camping supplies secure and dry, and later would also hold our household goods. To maximize storage, we built massive shelving in the back 12′ of the container. As I packed boxes, we put them in the overhead storage which spans the whole 8′ width of the container. The lower shelving spans 4′ and forms four “bays” of storage plus the open 4′ for larger items.

Roy came up with the idea to make part of the container a “living room”, and we decided we would need about half of the 53′. We would need to fully insulate and panel the front half that would serve as living space. The ensuing project was a “work it out as you go” process. We knew basically what we needed, but weren’t sure how to make it happen.


The first thing Roy did was build a stud wall across the middle to close off the back half for storage and workspace. We had to put studs and lathing on the metal walls to give us something to nail to. It took bolts, alot of Roy’s ingenuity, and all hands on deck  to get it up.  Roy and our magnificent brother-in-law, wired the whole container and got it plumbed for a washing machine and water heater. They found cherry paneling for a very low price at a closeout store and though it took a lot of work, we have a really pretty walls in our shipping container living room. Finally we built a stud wall across the front of the container, bought a door at a salvage store, and sided the outside with wood we cut on the sawmill.


 Most of the insulation we used was absolutely free. Roy’s office gets regular shipments that are frozen in dry ice. The insulation used in the boxes is long rectangles enclosed in plastic. It was perfect, easy, and free. Roy saved them as they came in, and over time we had enough to insulate the whole room with it. We did purchase one roll of  bubble foil insulation to add to the ceiling and the side that gets all day sun and that made a big difference. Finally, Roy put two coats of a special R factor paint on the roof, and that has made the biggest difference of all


We heated the living room with an electric oil filled radiator this winter. This spring, for the most part, we have been able to regulate the temperature by opening or closing the door. In addition, Roy cut a hole in the very back and installed a fan and made transoms over both doors. This will allow a flow of air all the way through, even with the doors shut.


We have created a very useful and pleasant space that serves as a laundry room, closet, pantry, living room, and kitchen. It houses our water heater, refrigerator, freezer, washer/dryer, and pantry shelves for food and equipment in the front of the room. The back of the room has a sofa, a desk with a computer, two buffets (one holds kitchen items and one holds blankets and sheets), two dressers, a clothes rack, and a  tiered shelf for clothes.

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