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From Box to Barn: A Designer’s Clever Reuse of a Shipping Container

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From Box to Barn: A Designer’s Clever Reuse of a Shipping Container

February 22, 2024

We’ve seen shipping containers transformed into guesthouses, garden sheds, even pools—but, until now, we’ve never seen one reimagined as a barn. How did designer Maryline Damour dream up this project, which currently rests on her property in the Hudson Valley?

“The idea originated because I was interested in buying a container; filling it with building materials; sending it to Haiti (where lots of rebuilding is happening due to earthquakes, and materials are expensive there); and using the container as the house structure.” says Maryline, who hails from the Caribbean country. “I thought it was a good way to build homes in Haiti faster and cheaper (less framing, no foundation); with little waste; and for seismic impact [due to less weight].”

“I mentioned it to my partner, Fred, and one day, he came home and said he found a company nearby that sold used shipping containers,” she continues. They decided to do a test-run at their home so that they could better understand the process of turning a cargo container into a building.

Before she knew it, she was signing for the largest delivery she’s every received in her life: a 40-foot-long, 9-foot-high used shipping container, delivered on a flatbed truck.

Here’s how they turned it into a barn.

Photography by Maryline Damour, courtesy of Damour Drake.

The couple found their used container at A-Verdi, a company that rents and sells storage containers in Newburg, NY. They delivered the container on a flatbed truck.
Above: The couple found their used container at A-Verdi, a company that rents and sells storage containers in Newburg, NY. They delivered the container on a flatbed truck.
&#8\2\20;Before the company delivered the container, we leveled the area and poured Item 4 on top; it&#8\2\17;s a mix of stone made specifically to be compacted, often used for driveways, parking areas,&#8\2\2\1; says Maryline. Once the container arrived, she had it cut into two equal parts. Here, workers are starting to build the hayloft.
Above: “Before the company delivered the container, we leveled the area and poured Item 4 on top; it’s a mix of stone made specifically to be compacted, often used for driveways, parking areas,” says Maryline. Once the container arrived, she had it cut into two equal parts. Here, workers are starting to build the hayloft.
&#8\2\20;As you can imagine, it was a quicker and less expensive build and a nice reuse,&#8\2\2\1; says Maryline. &#8\2\20;The container cost about \$\2,000. We had leftover stone and wood we used for the construction. The biggest expense was the  roof, which came in around \$\10,000.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: “As you can imagine, it was a quicker and less expensive build and a nice reuse,” says Maryline. “The container cost about $2,000. We had leftover stone and wood we used for the construction. The biggest expense was the [standing seam metal] roof, which came in around $10,000.”
&#8\2\20;Our home is a modern style farmhouse, so this structure had to relate to that. I toyed with doing a Union Jack design on the barn doors but chose this simpler look,&#8\2\2\1; says Maryline.
Above: “Our home is a modern style farmhouse, so this structure had to relate to that. I toyed with doing a Union Jack design on the barn doors but chose this simpler look,” says Maryline.
It&#8\2\17;s painted Benjamin Moore Dash of Pepper. &#8\2\20;I chose it because it helps the barn blend into the landscape. I also kept the interior cavity walls as is on the shipping container—that color and signage! One of the fun things about a reuse project is seeing at once what it was and what it is.&#8\2\2\1;
Above: It’s painted Benjamin Moore Dash of Pepper. “I chose it because it helps the barn blend into the landscape. I also kept the interior cavity walls as is on the shipping container—that color and signage! One of the fun things about a reuse project is seeing at once what it was and what it is.”
Currently, the couple use the two side units for storage and park their boat in the middle. They plan to turn one of the storage bays into a home gym. &#8\2\20;We plan to cut a hole on the side facing the creek on our property and we’ll install glass doors. We’ll be insulating it and adding heat,&#8\2\2\1; says Maryline.
Above: Currently, the couple use the two side units for storage and park their boat in the middle. They plan to turn one of the storage bays into a home gym. “We plan to cut a hole on the side facing the creek on our property and we’ll install glass doors. We’ll be insulating it and adding heat,” says Maryline.

Check out Maryline’s remarkable front door makeover in Before & After: A Shabby House Transformed, Thanks to Paint and a DIY Victorian Door

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