Experience the Serenity of the Catskills With This Off-Grid Shipping Container Cabin

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By Lucy Wang
Located two hours north of New York City, this shipping container cabin boasts sustainable design and cozy glamping comforts.

Spending your vacation in a shipping container in the remote woods might seem like an odd choice at first, but one look inside the Container Cabin in the Catskills is all it takes to fall in love with this cargotecture getaway. Fitted out with modern amenities and lined in timber, this cozy, energy-efficient cabin offers comfort, charm, and a tranquil atmosphere.

Nestled on a 20-acre plot on the eastern edge of the Catskill Mountains, the Container Cabin promises solitude in a lush forest with a waterfall a stone’s throw away. Hiking and delicious food options are also abundant in the area.

Nestled on a 20-acre plot on the eastern edge of the Catskill Mountains, the Container Cabin promises solitude in a lush forest with a waterfall a stone’s throw away. Hiking and delicious food options are also abundant in the area.

The 150-square-foot rental was created by Porter and Sara Fox, the creative couple behind Nowhere Studios. The dynamic duo worked with Mike O’Toole of the Brooklyn–based cargotecture company Contanium to bring the project to life.

A before image of the used shipping container during the initial phases of its transformation.

A before image of the used shipping container during the initial phases of its transformation.

Contanium applied the couple’s home designs to a 20-foot shipping container in a process that began with cutting away sections of the structure to make room for the unit's double sliding glass doors and numerous windows.

"Contanium is based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, so I could ride my bike down to the yard and meet with Mike O'Toole (owner/engineer) to talk about the design and watch the build progress," explains Porter of the process. "Within the first few days of the build, I couldn't recognize the container. It magically transformed into a small cabin."

"Contanium is based in Red Hook, Brooklyn, so I could ride my bike down to the yard and meet with Mike O'Toole (owner/engineer) to talk about the design and watch the build progress," explains Porter of the process. "Within the first few days of the build, I couldn't recognize the container. It magically transformed into a small cabin."

Spray foam insulation was applied to every square inch of exposed steel in the interior to create a temperature-regulated environment that stays cozy even in below-freezing temperatures. 

Contanium delivered the shipping container cabin to the site on the back of a truck. "If your view is not spot on, when Mike drops the container, he can rotate it until it is looking precisely at what you want," says Porter. "Imagine trying that with a traditional house! He can also drop them in the woods, over a stream, and bolt them to the side of a cliff. It is incredible..."

Contanium delivered the shipping container cabin to the site on the back of a truck. "If your view is not spot on, when Mike drops the container, he can rotate it until it is looking precisely at what you want," says Porter. "Imagine trying that with a traditional house! He can also drop them in the woods, over a stream, and bolt them to the side of a cliff. It is incredible..."

The exterior’s charcoal metal paint finish helps recede the cabin into the surroundings.

The exterior’s charcoal metal paint finish helps recede the cabin into the surroundings.

"The tiny home aspect of the container is pretty wild," says Porter. "One of the biggest shocks that we experienced was how little we needed to live with."

The couple laid oak planks atop the container’s marine plywood floor—sealed with penetrating epoxy—and finished the oak in a gray wash and water-soluble urethane. The whitewashed pine walls were also treated with the same sealant.

The couple laid oak planks atop the container’s marine plywood floor—sealed with penetrating epoxy—and finished the oak in a gray wash and water-soluble urethane. The whitewashed pine walls were also treated with the same sealant.

Fitted with a comfortable Ikea Friheten sofa bed, the Container Cabin includes a bedroom with a kitchenette, wood stove, and a patio. The bathroom—consisting of a Nature’s Head composting toilet and solar shower—is housed in a nearby light-filled, pine-paneled structure built with a translucent roof and walls.

Guests are welcome to use the Le Creuset kettle and French press, as well as the many pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils on the two-burner Coleman stove or on the outdoor grill.

Guests are welcome to use the Le Creuset kettle and French press, as well as the many pots, pans, and other kitchen utensils on the two-burner Coleman stove or on the outdoor grill.

Just outside the cabin sits a fire pit, a 64-square-foot yoga platform, a hammock, and a 120-gallon hot tub fed with stream water. A 30-foot waterfall lies just 100 yards north of the cabin's site.

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The Swedish wood-burning stove can keep the cabin toasty warm all night long.

The Swedish wood-burning stove can keep the cabin toasty warm all night long.

In keeping with Porter and Sara’s eco-conscious principles, the repurposed shipping container cabin operates entirely off-grid, and is equipped with energy-efficient features, including low-e glazing and touch-activated LEDs. A solar panel has also been installed on the roof.

The glazed doors and windows were placed on opposite sides of the cabin to maximize light and transparency, as well as to optimize views of the outdoors.

The glazed doors and windows were placed on opposite sides of the cabin to maximize light and transparency, as well as to optimize views of the outdoors.

A Husky tool bench with a butcher-block top was repurposed into the kitchen counter with storage in the form of spacious sliding trays.

A Husky tool bench with a butcher-block top was repurposed into the kitchen counter with storage in the form of spacious sliding trays.

Adirondack chairs set the scene at the outdoor campfire site. Fatwood firestarter is also provided with your stay.

Adirondack chairs set the scene at the outdoor campfire site. Fatwood firestarter is also provided with your stay.

The container is elevated on slate piers that Porter and Sara built themselves. When Contanium delivered the cabin, they simply placed the unit on the piers with minimal site disturbance.

The container is elevated on slate piers that Porter and Sara built themselves. When Contanium delivered the cabin, they simply placed the unit on the piers with minimal site disturbance.

Ready to plan your nature-filled escape to the Catskills? The Container Cabin—designed to sleep two—can be booked here at $185 a night.