There’s a lively debate about whether housing made from shipping containers makes sense. After all, shipping containers were designed specifically for transporting goods efficiently around the world, and are not made for long-term habitation.
That said, there are great examples of shipping container houses done right. This type of housing can be ideal for temporary or urgent living situations, like getting roofs over unhoused people, offices, or for pop-up shops and the like.
Shipping containers may also be transformed into short-term rentals, as the owners of Desert Rose Ranch have done. Located on a 27-acre property near Johnson City, Texas, in between the cities of Fredericksburg and Austin, this profitable shipping container suite features a number of intriguing design ideas like a garage door wall, as well as a rooftop deck with an outdoor bathtub and suspended hammock.
We get a tour of this peaceful retreat in Texan hill country via YouTuber Levi Kelly:
The shipping container was converted by Bob’s Containers, a company based in Austin that specializes in custom-built shipping container homes. This particular unit is based on the company’s 40-foot-long Porter model, which includes an enclosed bedroom and bathroom, plus an open-plan kitchen, dining, and living room.
From the outside, the shipping container has been painted in a sleek coat of black paint—probably not the best choice for passive cooling, as white would be better for reflecting the heat of the sun’s rays. In any case, the roof is clad with a wooden deck, which helps, and one can get more natural ventilation by opening up those big, wooden garage doors.
When we enter through the glazed entry door, we come into the sitting area. There is a minimalist, custom-built couch here, which merges both seating and a side table on one surface. One can sit on the upholstered cushions for seating, as well as use the adjacent space to place books or drinks. It feels comfy and low-key, and thanks to the big window in the entry door, we get lots of natural light here.
On the other side of the living room wall, we have a generously sized bedroom that includes a queen-sized bed, and a natural wood dresser. The bedroom has a view, thanks to the large window at the base of the bed.
The dining area is pretty simple and incorporates a wooden dining set with a round table and a pair of dining chairs. A round table saves space and is easier for circulation to “flow” around it. Plenty of sunlight can stream in here, thanks to the big garage doors here, and the suspended horseshoes make for a nice piece of ranch-themed decor.
The kitchen is split into two areas that face each other. It’s relatively simple, but it has all the basics for cooking while on vacation.
There is a large sink, a two-burner induction stovetop, a kettle, and a retro-styled refrigerator. The warm-toned wooden cabinetry was custom-made by Bob’s Containers and provides more than enough space to store kitchen equipment and food, in addition to the space available on the floating shelves above. We love the rosy color palette here, from the wood down to the pearly tiles of the backsplash.
Just past the kitchen, we have the bathroom behind the sliding wooden barn-style door. There is a glass wall that separates the rainfall shower from the toilet, and a large sink mounted on top of a vanity made out of wood.
Back outside, and up a spiraling metal staircase, we come to the spacious roof deck. There is a set of lawn chairs here, in addition to a small bar table and two chairs, perfect for lounging on with a cold drink.
There is also a lovely outdoor tub for soaking. In keeping with the desert ranch theme, the tub is made out of a recycled metal livestock trough that has been completely refurbished, and its bottom is covered with colorful tiles.
Probably the sweetest surprise up here is the awesome suspended hammock, which hangs off the side of the deck, allowing guests to sunbathe under the Texan sun.
Pricing for the Porter model starts at $134,325 according to Bob’s Containers (not including customizations and shipping), but a cheaper option is to experience this vacation rental instead. To check out prices for a stay, head on over to Airbnb.