convert a shipping container into a mid-century modern art studio

I converted a shipping container into a mid-century modern art studio

The raw shipping container

Here is the skinny, I bought an empty lot and it came with an ugly old shipping container. I am not, due to zoning laws etc., allowed to "build" a structure this size. So the idea is that this a temporary structure and falls into different guidelines. The next step is to get a stand-alone, off the grid solar panel set up so it is truly mobile and temporary etc…

I had the container leveled and set on 12"x24" cement forming tubes www.homedepot.com/p/SAKRETE-12-in-x-48-in-Tube-for-Concrete-200077374/100324386 $30 at Home Depot. The goal is to be able to pull the whole deal up on the back of a flat bed and move it wherever and whenever I want (ie. land up north), so having the container setting on a solid base but not permanantly attached was perfect.

PATIO!

put the brick patio on edged in with railroad ties
the cutting begins

door opening and one of the roof panels cut out. (cutting technique is described below).
more cutting

i went back and forth between using a 5" angle grinder with cutting blades and renting an oxy-acetlyne torch. The oxy-acetlyne was really messy and slow and prone to sending hot metal down your boot so I ended up going back to using the angle grinder because it was so much more precise. basically you get about 5' per blade. (it was a LOT of blades) so be prepared and measure how many feet you have to cut, divide by 5 and then get that number of blades plus a few extras, you can always return the unused ones.
using the torch to cut the roof panels out

you can see how messy the edges are. I'm sure with some practice and some more skill it could be done well but using a torch is not my strong suit, clearly. The edges weren't as straight or as clean as I wanted. and ran into trouble later when the framing started. So my advice is cut clean, cut straight and cut away more than you think you need to because having to graind away metal later when you want to put in sheetrock is the pits.
framing begins

with the holes cut I (with infinite help from my friend andrew) were able to begin framing out the exterior. i used 2×3's on the short side and attached them with 4" self tapping sheet metal screws. Pre drilling the holes in the wood savead a ton of time and effort when it came time to sink the sheet metal screws. That made one less thing to have to hold and deal with.
joists!!

roof joists going in! These are 2×10 joists on a 10 degree rise. You can see the 2' high wall I built to set on the front edge of the container frame that is made out of 2×10's as well. I wanted the frame to be stout so I didn't have to worry about the weight of the roof overhang (4') I divided the vertical supports evenly so I could put glass in the openings to creat transom windows aboce the doors all long the face of the structure.
roof is on

end of the roof day. feeling accomplished and beginning to look like the end result a bit!! You can see the 2' wall that is the support for the joists was the sturdiest part of the whole structure. You can also see (barely) that the second joist from the left is doubled up so i could pot in a carriage bolt and hang a swinging chair from the overhang with no worries.
Andrew looking over the interior framing.

This is the day we really realized how much easier it would have been to just build the thing from scratch and not have to engineer the interior walls meeting up with the exterior walls and fighting the steel every step of the way. But the joy is in the journey right?!? (Also really wanted the structure to be mobile forever). It turns out that the 2×3's on the inside and the 2×3's on the outside plus the thickness of the metal are exactly the width of a 2×6 on the 6" side. We were amazed and pleased. So if you see the 2×6 that are being used for the door frames it lines up almost perfectly even with the studs on the inside and the studs on the outside so we were in effect able to marry the inside framing to the outside framing so it became one big connected frame!
covered.

roof on. exterior walls done. interior walls done. I used expanding foam to fill all of the gaps between the cut metal and the wood framing. I used 3/4" plywood for the roof. Here you can also see a goot shot of the support that sticks out from the top of the 2' support wall to hold up the joists on the far left and right of the roof. it is two 2×4's screwed together vertically. I talk about how I was able to cover them up with 3/4×12" cedar later on in the post.
tar paper

tar paper on!
installed the tarpaper with a 3" drip edge.
sealing up the roof before the summer showers hit. The skylights came with a super simple flashing kit that was a breeze to install and perfectly clear instructions. I was amazed. It was one of my biggest worries. Keeping the rain out. A roofer I am not. I used Velux 23"x48" Fixed Curb-Mount skylight. $179 at The Home Depot. ( I got everything for this project at Ganahl Lumber but I presume most of you don't have a Ganahl near you. I go out of my way to use them. They are more expensive but anything is better than shopping at Home Depot)
almost there!!
here you can see the original floor which really is great wood. not sure what it was but it was SO beat up i decided to cover it. You can also see the steel that I left spanning the center of the space. I was going to make faux pine beams but decided against them since they made the space feel MUCH smaller so i ended up cutting them out later.
DOORS!!

the doors are in and the 3/4"x6" cedar siding is started. I ordered custom vinyl doors from Ganahl Lumber and they fit in like a dream. For the cedar siding I used a nifty plastic 1/16" gap tool and 2" 18gauge nails in my Nail Gun.
window in.

the picture window on the north side is in (also custom ordered 4×6 with aluminum and vinyl frame). and some more progress on the cedar siding. As well as the 3/4"x12" cedar facing on the roof, it really settles the roof on there visually and makes the whole structure feel solid.
here is another angle of the cedar facing on the roof. I love the way it is looking. I had initially planned on 6" then thought 8 or 10" would look more intentional, but it turns out I ended up having to get 12" to cover the support that runs across the top of the 2' support wall that holds up the joists and I sure an glad I did because it looks really solid up there.
cedar siding is DONE!! light fixtures in!
proud of the cedar. it smells SO good. and this little 2' return wall looks really smart!!
The Staining

alright. cedar done. stained and sealed. now on to the interior.
first run of the tongue and groove doug fir flooring.
we have a floor!

floor is in. not stained yet but t's really starting to feel like a workable space here.
the last batch of floor to be done
and it is done.
the ceiling progress

now more tongue and groove Doug Fir. 20' lengths. holy crap it looks good!! oh and also put the insulation in. That is a thankless task. I made the framing 24" on center so i had a bit of a hard time finding 4"x24" insulation. I really wanted to use some rock wool but i couldn't find it in the correct size. The studs are only 3" deep so i had to squish the insulation down a bit to make room for the drywall.
finished whitewashed ceiling

here is the ceiling done and whitewashed with the light fixtures in. I used an oil-based Varathane Antique White. I rubbed it on with a rag and had Andrew follow me about 1-2 minutes later with a dry rag and wipe it off so the white wasn't so strong. just a hint. Also you can see the pine "beams" we built to cover the thick ends of the steel above the containers doors.
more ceiling shots. not sure if this is before or after the stain. 🙂
here is me worried about mashing the crap out of the wood floor while we finish the project!! which i did. mash the crap out of the wood. :-/
deciding how good the cedar is going to look in the skylight openings!!
and here are the transom window trim areas with and without the 1/2" pine. for the glass i had it all custom cut and i used clear caulking with 1/2"x1/2" pine trim to secure the glass in the openings.
and here they are (pre-whitewashing) with the 2"x1/4" trim.
floor is sealed. no trim on the windows or doors or baseboards but the sheetrock is on in and painted….whew. that is no party at all. no fun.
skylights with stain and without.
here is the frame and the facing on the reading nook/storage bench under the picture window. i used leftover flooring for the face of the bench. Please take note how i measured wrong and it is way too close to the outlet… 🙁
done. baseboards and trim all installed and whitewashed.

done. baseboards and trim all installed and whitewashed.
stained cedar trim against the whitewashed Doug Fir. I am loving the way this is looking.
oh, heres an older shot before the windows were trimmed out. I love the contrast of the whitewashed fir ceiling and the stained cedar outside the window.
done. baseboards and trim all installed and whitewashed. and the first sight of the finished reading nook/Storage bench (the goal is to put a long cushion and some pillows on here. I used 1/4 round to cover the gap between the facing of the bench and the floor and the top/lid is made out of 3/4" baltic birch plywood that I painted the same white as the walls.
done. baseboards and trim all installed and whitewashed.
done. baseboards and trim all installed and whitewashed.
done. here is the finished product with the hanging chair and all. This was a tremendously satisfying project and so, so glad I was able to take the time and money to do it. I am, of course availabe to answer any questions about your own container project if you have any!!!
Source : ithyle from Reddit