11 Creative Container Homes Across the Country

Recycled shipping containers provide new life in these inventive designs from around the United States.

Photo By: Peter Aaron / Esto

Photo By: Wade Griffith Photography

Photo By: Kevin Walsh Photography

Photo By: Peter Aaron / Esto

Photo By: Chris Cooper

Photo By: Brandon Guman

Photo By: Modulus

Photo By: Peter Aaron / Esto

Photo By: DeMaria Design

Photo By: Scott Gordon Photography

Photo By: Scott Gordon Photography

Photo By: Whitaker Studio

Bunny Lane, Bernardsville, NJ

Architect Adam Kalkin, co-founder of Industrial Zombie, has made a name for himself by taking shipping container design to the next level. Bunny Lane in rural New Jersey is a real mind blower, as it looks as though a shipping container swallowed a traditional house. The latter is a replica of a 19th-century cottage, complete with a porch, and could easily exist as a stand-alone structure. Unlike, say, a museum exhibit, both spaces are furnished and easily flow into each other. In another trippy twist, there’s even a three-story wall of nine cube-shaped rooms (glassed in), creating a real-life dollhouse effect.

PV14 House, Dallas, TX

Even shipping container homes are bigger in Texas. Called PV14 House, since it uses 14 shipping containers, this Dallas home from M Gooden Design is one of the largest at 3,700 square feet. That number contains three bedrooms, a den, entertainment area, three-and-a-half bathrooms and a two-car garage. There’s also a small penthouse and a large roof deck. A glass-fronted second floor, complete with a full-length balcony, maximizes prime views of a lake and park across the way.

McConkey Residence, San Diego, CA

For many, a mega-mansion represents the ideal dream home, but for Mike and Shawn McConkey, a shipping container was their ideal. The McConkey Residence, designed by OBR Architecture, is one of San Diego’s first shipping container homes. Three containers form 800 square feet of living space, and floor-to-ceiling windows make the open-air design feel even larger. A retractable garage door next to the kitchen is another thoughtful element (and perfect for those times when the stove gets a bit too smoky). Speaking of smoke, the windows and roof incorporate flame-retardant materials in the event of wildfires.

12 Container House, Blue Hill, Maine

Another Kalkin home, 12 Container House is arguably his most famous design. As you might have surmised, yes, this private residence consists of 12 shipping containers. Its design pushes the realm of container possibilities, converting claustrophobic, boxy structures into a dramatic steel and glass abode. Two opposing staircases are a defining feature of the interior, and can be viewed from either side of the house. Individual shipping containers used to define spaces, such as the kitchen and living room, are another differentiator, and provide a meta feel to the entire concept.

Container Guest House, San Antonio, TX

Though it would make for an ideal tiny home, this Container Guest House in a San Antonio, Texas backyard functions as the perfect accomodation for visitors. As is the norm with container homes, environmentally friendly practices were top-of-mind, explaining why Poteet Architects kept its original blue color, along with the exterior text. There are plenty of other green features as well. The addition of a floor-to-ceiling window adds natural light, while sliding doors provide plenty of fresh air. The roof garden is watered by grey water (runoff water from the sink and shower). The bathroom contains a composting toilet, and recycled soda bottles are part of the deck’s building materials. If that’s not enough, the exterior light fixtures are local tractor blades, and the foundation consists of — you’d never guess — recycled telephone poles.

Nederland House, Nederland, CO

This Colorado residence by Tomecek Studio Architecture is actually a hybrid container house, incorporating two shipping containers on either side of a more traditional structure. The entire 1,500-square-foot Nederland House makes the most of its Rocky Mountain views, while the containers are where you’ll find the bedrooms, bath, office, laundry room and kitchen. Though it’s not part of the containers, the upstairs of the center structure features a platform bed on sliding tracks — giving an entirely new meaning to sleeping under the stars.

Six Oaks, Felton, CA

Six Oaks can be found deep in the woods of Felton, California (not far from Santa Cruz). It’s built in a former railway area surrounded by redwood trees, although you’ll be glad to know only two redwoods were cut down to accommodate the home, and those were used for interior elements such as the stairs. Architecture and design firm Modulus created Six Oaks by stacking six shipping containers to maximize light, views and airflow throughout the 1,200-square-foot space. Skylights, a bridge and private outdoor shower are other standout features in a home that’s otherwise intended to blend into its surroundings.

Quik House, Califon, NJ

The Quik House in Califon, New Jersey, is another Kalkin design, and consists of six recycled containers that are built into a hill and connected by a walkway. A spacious courtyard also helps to connect the two separate structures, and is easily accessed via floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors. In fact, floor-to-ceiling windows are a key characteristic of the home, creating just the right balance of exposure and privacy.

Redondo Beach House, Redondo Beach, CA

Another hybrid, the Redondo Beach House in Southern California consists of eight shipping containers along with traditional stick frame construction. Designed by Peter DeMaria of DeMaria Design, the result is a four-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath that maintains its original corrugated steel walls and wood floors. Airplane hangar doors are a major standout element, and redefine bringing the outdoors in. If you’re a fan of shipping containers but can’t afford an architect, DeMaria also operates Logical Homes, a reasonably priced line of pre-fabricated container homes.

51st Street, Austin, TX

Designer Patrice Rios of Sige&Honey specializes in customizing shipping containers. Her first foray involved adding a shipping container office to her backyard in Austin. But she’s become associated with building a duplex elsewhere in the city that contains two containers behind it. The duplex itself is designed to look like a container (pictured), complete with a boxy shape and floor-to-ceiling windows.

51st Street, Austin, TX

However, the actual containers (pictured) are concealed behind the duplex, and mirror each other, just as the duplex units mirror each other with two bedrooms and three bathrooms. Similarly to Rios’ own container, these function as either an office or guesthouse. Neither contains a bathroom, but there’s easy access to one on the first floor of each unit. Rios is currently designing another duplex in the city that will incorporate shipping containers inside the home.

Joshua Tree Container House, Joshua Tree, CA

No, it’s not a mirage. This otherworldly structure in the Joshua Tree desert is the future vacation home of film producer Chris Hanley. It’s inspiration came from one of Hanley’s friends after visiting the 90-acre plot of land, who showed Hanley a design by London-based architect James Whitaker of Whitaker Studios. “The picture was of an office that I'd designed several years ago but had never been built,” says Whitaker. (Said office will actually be part of a shipping container exhibit at the National Maritime Museum of Australia opening the end of October.) Meanwhile, construction of the Joshua Tree home is slated to start in 2018, resulting in a three-bedroom, 2,000-square-foot-home. There’s a method to the container-angle madness, as each one will be positioned to either maximize views or maximize privacy. And since it’s in the desert, a solar-paneled garage roof will cover power needs.