Finance Property My home: The house that fits in a single room
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My home: The house that fits in a single room

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Turning a space the size of a single room into a comfortable, self-contained dwelling is a tall order – but that’s exactly what one enterprising couple have done.

David Ingram, 37, and Naomi Laing, 33, have set up a cosy home within the metal walls of a 6 by 2.5 metre shipping container.

“It’s about the size of a smallish living room,” Mr Ingram says.

“I think I’ve been very clever with the use of space, and the materials that I’ve used soften it and make it feel very homely and cosy.”

The shipping container sits on the block of land the couple bought in Kilcunda, about 100 kilometres South-East of Melbourne. Their original plan was to find a space to live in while they were building their dream home, but successive delays on that project have meant they’re settling right into their compact new home.

“We could have lived anywhere [during the build] but I loved the idea of living in a shipping container, and not so much to just save money – because it certainly hasn’t saved money – it has cost a lot of money setting it up.”

The container cost approximately $6000 including delivery, Mr Ingram says, and the couple have spent a further $15,000 on renovation and fitout, including the installation of floor-to-ceiling double-glazed sliding doors on either end of the container.

The transformation of the shipping container into a home has provided a creative outlet for Mr Ingram, who is taking some time out from his high-paced work as a freelance television cameraman.

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking through every element of the place. I had plans on paper and the moment I started building they were basically thrown out because it all changed organically. The only original idea that’s remained is the bed being suspended from the ceiling, because obviously it’s a space-saver but it’s also a really unique feature,” he says.

Mr Ingram has been striving for a simple design aesthetic.

“I wanted it to be minimalist to create a sense of space,” he says. This he’s achieved by creating floating shelves, fixed from outside the container, and having an array of storage space to reduce clutter.

And he’s been learning new skills to make it happen: “I’ve learnt to measure twice and cut once,” he says.

Despite the compact size of the space, Mr Ingram says the project is endless.

“There’s a lot of things I would still like to do to the container. I derive a lot of pleasure from it. It’s almost like a garden: you can always beautify it more, you can always find something more to add to it.”

The shipping container will be home sweet home for the next 12 to 18 months, Mr Ingram says, but moving will by no means be the end of the life of the space.

“After that we’ll have it as a guest area, like a separate studio, or I’ll use it as an editing suite,” he says.

“In its lifetime it will go through a lot of changes.”