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Single mother gives a fascinating tour of her shipping container home
Lulu wanted to work less, so she transformed a shipping container into a unique home.
Jenny Brown
08.03.21

Being a parent is a full-time job in itself. As we know though, it takes a lot of money to raise a child and pay for housing – so it can be difficult to balance it all. Especially if you’re a single mom or dad.

One California woman discovered a way to put a roof over her family’s head without having to work full-time. It involved tiny living.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

Tiny living has given single mom Lulu a home, all while allowing her to spend more time raising her daughter.

“I had to move out of the house I was living in and a friend said: ‘Why don’t you just build something?” Lulu explains to Fair Companies.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

Lulu went back to school and didn’t want to have to work full-time just to pay her rent.

So, she decided to build a home out of a shipping container.

“I think I’m a little claustrophobic so the storage container was a little daunting, but I got the container for free,” she said. “It went back and forth from China. So, it had been at sea.”

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

There was a lot of work to be done.

Lulu spent two to three months searching dumps and other places for free or inexpensive building materials like windows, doors, and flooring – then spent about a month building her home.

She had remodeled a boat before, but never built a home from scratch.

She would use 2×4’s to create the traditional framing of the interior of the home. She also installed the denim insulation, drywall and did some light plumbing. Bubblewrap protects the wood framing from condensation.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

The mom used a jigsaw to cut openings for the windows and doors, which used up several blades.

She shared:

“It’s really well insulated. If anything, it gets too hot.”

The 160-square-foot container consists of a play area, couch, bookshelf, and a kitchen that features a sink, a propane camp stove, and a small refrigerator.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

“The benefits of a container is you can move in right away, you have a house right away,” Lulu said. “It’s pretty incredible.”

There’s a private bathroom in Lulu’s home, which has a toilet, sink, and tub. Hot water comes from a camping water heater that runs off propane.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

Lulu decided that she and her daughter needed a bit more space.

So, she built a separate unit on a flatbed trailer with the frame bolted to the trailer and is basically built like a shed.

It contains some general living space, Lulu’s bed, and a loft where her daughter’s bed is.

“It’s really mostly built like a shed. It’s a nice looking shed, but it’s really an 8 by 16 shed with windows in it,” Lulu said.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

This unit was built with lots of windows so that natural light floods in and Lulu and her daughter can gaze at the stars.

It’s allowed them to have “a million astronomy sessions.”

“It’s been amazing to spend so much time looking outside,” Lulu says.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

Lulu says that it’s “incredible” what you can find in a dump. She grew up in Argentina so she’s used to living modestly.

“When you don’t have money you just have to get creative,” she said.

The mom says that she’s spent roughly $4,000 creating their home – and doesn’t regret downsizing.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

“Material things, all of it is on borrow right, we’re all just borrowing stuff… None of this is ours and we try to secure ourselves in these identities like my house, my wife, my car, my children, my career. You know the bigger the more, I’m sure that I am myself and it’s like oh no, this house is really a prison and I’m tied to the bank,” Lulu said.

YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen
Source:
YouTube - Kirsten Dirksen

She hopes to soon build a second bedroom and a greenhouse that connects the current bedroom structure to the kitchen and living area.

After she does so, the bedroom shed can be just her daughter’s.

“I mean this was really a choice about, you know, how many hours do we have to our life and how do I want to spend those hours and really about do I want to go and work more than 10, 20, 30 hours a week so that I can pay rent to have a big house so that I can be a healthy normal mom. So this was my choice and she’s [her daughter] definitely complained at times, but I also know that we have spent way more hours than I would have if I had to pay rent,” Lulu says.

Living in a shipping container might not be everyone’s dream, but it’s certainly tempting with how the mom makes it work. After all, being able to spend more time with the family would be priceless.

Press play on the video below to get a full tour of Lulu’s interesting home!

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By Jenny Brown
hi@sbly.com
Jenny Brown is a senior writer at Shareably. She is based in San Francisco and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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