Home visit: life in a shipping container

Beneath its tough exterior is a home with emotional and physical wellbeing at its core. Built from reused shipping containers and recycled materials, this space is designed for life. Take a look inside…

A living room inside a shipping container.

Strike a balance

In the living room, Arno picks sustainable items wherever possible, mixing furniture inherited from his mother with self-made pieces, found objects and IKEA. ‘I try to combine quality, comfort and fun,’ he says.

Find creative freedom

A flexible workstation creates space to generate ideas, like Arno’s handmade furniture on wheels. Set up your home office like a pop-up space, so you can get to work wherever and whenever an idea strikes. ‘Now I have more leisure time to work on my rolling furniture sculptures. Of course, if you work less, you earn less, so it’s a compromise. But my body and mind constantly need to move,’ says Arno.

Connect with nature

Sometimes, living in a shipping container means working with constraints. Arno embraces his narrow kitchen by using open storage to keep everything within easy reach. To prevent it feeling crowded, the kitchen has three entryways – one of which links to Arno’s indoor/outdoor dining room and helps to draw in the feeling of nature. ‘It gives the kitchen a great energy,’ he says.

Settle into a slower pace

Create spaces that invite you to take a pause – from a stripped-back sleep space to a cosy reading nook by the fireplace. ‘I use the chair in my bedroom to rest, or to sit and read.’

Making the leap

How did you go from traditional house to shipping container?
‘I used to work as a painter-decorator for wealthy people, but after recovering from a serious illness, I realised how short life can be. I wanted a better way of living.’
Had you built anything like this from scratch before?
‘Everyone thought I was crazy. My previous experience was limited to a tipi and a chicken coop! But I wanted to produce something of my own, and I have.’
Where did you source the materials?
‘There’s a huge surplus of shipping containers in the USA, so it made sense to reuse them. Sixty percent of my home is made of reused or recycled materials. I’m proud of that.’
Have you always been interested in sustainable living?
‘My approach to sustainability stems from my love of cooking, and growing up in the south of France. Once you realise the damage that can be done by non-organic products, you start to understand how this relates to everything else around you. I don’t believe anything is ever 100% sustainable, but you can work towards closing the loop.’

Designed by nature

‘I planned the layout of the rooms to follow the sun. The bedrooms and bathrooms are in the east and the living room faces the south – at breakfast time the sun shines on the dining table, and in the afternoon the living room catches the late glow. It’s nice because it brings everyday life closer to the natural rhythms of the world outside,’ says Arno.

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by

Interior stylist: Martin Bourne
Photographer: Dan Duchars