With our busy, modern-day lives, it’s important to have a place of refuge where you can truly relax and unwind. Man caves, and more recently she sheds, are just the kind of places to allow that. And what better way to build one than with a shipping container.
A stressful career, child-rearing, volunteer obligations, household duties…all these things and more compete for your time and energy. Wouldn’t you like a place where you can go and leave all of that behind for a few minutes? Where you can take a mini-vacation from the ‘real world’ and focus on your wellbeing, your hobbies, and your passions instead?
That is exactly what we’re talking about in this article on shipping container she sheds and container man caves. Or just call it one of these names we just made up, like yoga yurt, reading room, and creativity casa.
Whatever you call it, we’re about to tell you all about shipping containers are the perfect way to simply and economically achieve this dream.
Let’s start with what they are not. We aren’t talking about a tool shed or workshop, although there can be some crossover with those options.
Basically, a she shed or man cave is a small-ish room or area that is either closed off or separated from the rest of your house. While it may have a secondary use (as a guest bedroom, for example), it’s primary use is all about you.
Perhaps if you were lucky, you had a treehouse as a child. Think of a man cave or she shed like that, only for adults…and on the ground!
Below are a few ways that others have used these fun spaces to give you some ideas!
- Relaxation Station: A nice place for an afternoon nap, to read the newspaper and have your coffee in the morning, or to just sit and watch the birds in your yards and lets the worries of the day slide away
- Reading Room: Many people don’t read as much as they like because they can’t ever get in the right frame of mind, but a dedicated reading room full of books, quotes, and plants can set the right tone
- Meditation Zone: Whether you prefer complete silence or a calming background music, a distraction-free area to calm and center yourself is vital for effective meditation
- Wellness Area: You can live a full, rich life across the Eight Dimensions of Wellness by focusing on developing habits of mindfulness that a location-based cue (like a dedicated area for wellness practice) will help with
- Writer’s Den: Poetry, screen writing, or the next great novel…all of them require a place that artfully combines inspiration and solitude in a way that allows that words to flow from your head to the paper
- DIY/Craft Room: This category is huge and can include projects you love to work on using everything from paper mache to Raspberry Pis
- Scrapbooking Room: Scrapbooks are about artfully collected and recorded memories, but they require tons of supplies and the table space to lay everything out that a room like a She Shed can provide
- Sewing Room: Whether your specialties are quilts and ornate Halloween costumes or simple window drapes and repairing knee-holes in jeans, a sewing room full of thread, fabric, and patterns will improve your productivity and creativity
- Photography Studio: Put up a backdrop for portraits and product photos, or use a closeted end of the container as a dark room for developing film captured with the artistic magic of an analog camera
- Art Studio: From painting to pottery, many art mediums can be messy, smelly, or otherwise disruptive and deserve having a dedicated space
- Music Studio: Never gift someone an electric guitar unless they have a music studio to play it in, and this is doubly true for a drumset! (your ears and your neighbors will thank you)
- Media Creation: A suprising amount of people enjoy spending their time (or even making a living) by creating things like podcasts, vlogs, livestreams of video games, etc that really deserve a quiet, still, well-lit recording location in order to look and/or sound professional
- Home Theater: Stadium seating, surround sound, and a massive TV screen all combine to make the ultimate movie-watching experience, and you can have all three in a surprisingly small space
- Sports Command Center: Serious sports fans are usually tracking several games (and maybe even several sports) at once, so they need a room with multiple TV’s to see everything in real time just like a mission command center
- Bar: A bar isn’t just about the drinks, it’s about the ambiance and atmosphere whether you decide to go with the look of an Irish pub, a futuristic steampunk bar, or classy wine-bar
- Yoga Studio: Yoga is a great way to stretch your muscles, flex your joints, and calm your mind with only a simple room and some mats
- Gym: Whether you use kettlebells, a BowFlex, a treadmill, or a squat rack, a home gym is the perfect place to burn off stress and get toned
- Cycle Studio: Bicycling is great aerobic and muscular exercise, but if you want to avoid weather extremes and the danger posed by vehicular traffic, a cycle is a great idea for stationary bikes or cycle trainers with your road bikes
- Gun Room: If you hunt or target shoot, a gun room can serve as a place to maintain your weapsons, reload your ammunition, and serve as a giant gun safe to display and protect your assets
- Sport Equipment Room: To perform your best, you need a dedicated facility to store and maintain sports equipment so you can adjust ski bindings, wax surfboards, string rackets, dry wetsuits, and much more
- Collectible Display Room: Whether your collectible of choice is action figures, movie memorabilia, or antiques, your collection deserves more than cardboard boxes in the attic, it needs a room where you spread out, catalog, and showcase your passion with others
- Home Office: If you’re a remote worker or just have a side hustle that you’re working on during nights and weekends, you’ll get more done when you combine a productive office with a literally seconds long commute to your backyard
- Site Office: If you want to build a container dream home on your property, a great way to get started is by having small she shed or man cave that can serve as a cosntruction site office, so you get get inspiration for the home design by being on the property and have a central place to store drawings, receipts, manuals, and other documents
If you read through all those incredible ideas above, you’re probably excited about the prospect of a she shed or man cave. But let’s hit the brakes for a second.
Do you actually need one of these spaces? It really depends on your unique situation. A dedicated space for these kinds of activities is almost always best, but you have to have the room and the budget to accommodate it. You also need to know yourself to determine if you would actually use it.
The great thing about the popularity of shipping containers is this if you ever decided you didn’t want your she shed or man cave, you could sell it someone else.
A related question to ask yourself is if you and your partner or spouse need individual she sheds and man caves. The answer is unique to every relationship and depends on the amount of existing space in your home, how much overlap there is in your hobbies, etc.
If you do determine that you need dual spaces, an economical way to achieve it is by getting a larger container, like a 40 ft model, then splitting it into two rooms!
If you’ve made it this far, you’re at least somewhat interested in the idea of a man cave or she shed. So now, let’s talk about why using a shipping container to build one may or may not make sense for you.
An empty shipping container is usually going to be cheaper than all buy the flimsiest shed alternatives (which we’ll discuss in a below section). And if you wanted something as strong as a container, you’d have to spend much more. So from the beginning, a shipping container is a great option to consider for this kind of project.
Think about the shed you had in your backyard as a kid. Do you think it’s still there now? Odds are, it blew away in a storm, slowly rotted until it collapsed on itself, or leaks so bad that it is unusable.
Most types of sheds and other small outdoor storage builds aren’t really build to last. If you want a building that is probably even stronger than your existing house, a shipping container is the way to go.
With minimal maintenance, it will easily endure the elements/weather, the assault of bugs and mice who want to live inside, and even the sticky fingers of would-be thieves.
In truth, many varieties of sheds are technically portable as long as they aren’t permanently mounted to a concrete foundation. But you have to ask yourself, “If I move it…will it survive the trip?”
A shipping container is designed and engineered to be constantly moved around the world in the worst possible conditions while securely protecting the contents inside. Many other types of sheds may not handle a journey nearly as well.
The last thing you want is to worry about is your she shed or man cave folding in like a house of cards when the time comes to relocate it.
A shipping container is an incredibly flexible platform to use as the starting point for a she shed or man cave. Even on day one immediately after delivery, you already have a a lockable, weatherproof, expansive building. The options just expand from there.
If your budget is limited, you can pause at the point and have a barebones building that is short on frills but full of promise. As budget and time allow, you can slowly modify it to make it your own.
Thanks to the fact that the metal walls of a container are part of the structure, any wood studs and interior panels you add won’t affect the strength of the building. If you need to change all of that out later to get a new look or configuration, your container will still be standing without an issue.
And if you want to completely change the exterior appearance of a container, you can easily do that too. Again, any cladding you add is not integral to the supporting structure of the unit.
So you can feel free to build away on the inside and outside and even change things up over time, secure in the fact that the actual container itself is holding everything up without an issue.
We talked earlier about how durable and strong a container is, especially when compared to some other alternatives for building a shed or outbuilding. The one downside to this is weight.
Due to its large mass, a container isn’t something you and a few friends can pick up and move across the yard. Once you put it somewhere, it isn’t going to move without some heavy equipment. And you’ll need a good foundation to set it on so it doesn’t sink into sandy soil and become unlevel and hard to open.
Every location is different, but many cities have rules on the size of outdoor structures that you can build before you need more complicated and expensive building permits and drawings. An often-used breakpoint to where these regulations kick in is anything over 120 square feet.
The smallest commonly-sized container is 20ft by 8ft, so 160 square feet. Smaller containers are available, but they are rarer. All that to say, before you fall too in love with shipping containers, check out the regulations in your area first.
Another implication of the size of shipping containers is related to moving them. Unlike shed kits that can be moved piece by piece, a shipping container must be moved as one unit. And because they are relatively large and heavy, you’ll need a crane or large forklift to move one.
Make sure you’re thinking about not just where your container will ultimately sit, but how you will get there. Do you have an access path that is wide enough, or somewhere a crane can go and lift the container over a fence, for example? These issues are solvable for most people, but they deserve careful consideration.
If you’ve done any research on She Sheds and Man Caves, you know that shipping containers aren’t the most popular option. So, let’s discuss some of the other, more common ways that people often build these spaces.
When you’re thinking about a new space at your house, the best place to start is usually looking at what you already have.
In fact, what we’re calling a ‘she shed’ doesn’t actually have to be a shed at all. It’s really just about having a dedicate space for the activities you love. What if that space is already there, right under your nose?
There are a lot of options in the existing envelope of your house. Ideas include finishing out a basement, upgrading a spare bedroom, converting a rarely-used formal living or dining room, finishing out a garage or attic, or upgrading a large closet.
Most of these options assume you have excess space in your house, which for most people just isn’t the case. But if you do, this avenue could be worth considering.
When you’re doing remodeling, you need to think about the cost of the upgrades as well as how they will affect the resale value of your house if and when you decide to move. Will future owners be happy with your changes, or will it be a liability?
Closely related to a home remodel is a home addition. In this case, we’re talking about actually expanding the footprint of the house and not just reconfiguring the existing space.
As you might imagine, this can be a very expensive option. You’ll almost certainly need to have professionals involved and just the construction costs alone will be higher as you attempt to match both the character and construction of your existing house.
Just like the above, you have the question of return on investment. Will you ever be able to recover the cost of the pricey addition when you sell the house?
Let’s assume that you need additional space beyond what your house can provide, and you aren’t interested in modifying your existing home. Now you’re looking at options for freestanding buildings you can place in your yard or garden. In this section, we’ll focus on a few different options companies can offer.
On the high end, you’ve got some prefabricated sheds and storage buildings that are bold and modern on both the inside and outside. But fair warning, they aren’t cheap. Companies like Studio Shed, Modern Shed, and Kanga Room Systems all provide some variation of these types of buildings.
If you’re a little more budget-conscious, you might look toward a more affordable kit building like those from Shelter Logic/Arrow or Lifetime. These options have the more traditional look, and will still require a lot of interior work to get the finished-out look you’re probably hoping for.
For those who don’t have the time or experience to put together a kit, some of these companies and others can deliver a completed unit on a truck and set it in your yard for you.
Make sure you’re keeping in the mind the pros and cons of container-based buildings discussed above if you look into these units.
The last major option we’ll discuss is just building something from scratch. That could be something you do yourself, or higher someone to do for you.
In one case, you’ll have a large price tag, and in the other, a huge allocation of your time. Yes, there are plans available to save you a little bit of design work on the front end, but the construction will still be unavoidable.
While a custom building gives you the opportunity to make it exactly how you want, you have to decide if that freedom is worth paying for. Could a container-based she shed or man cave give you most of want you want with much fewer headaches? That’s a question only you can answer!
Obviously we’re huge fans of using shipping containers to solve the need presented in this article. So we’re excited to show you some incredible ways people and companies around the world have built shipping container man caves and she sheds!
This example uses the rarely-seen 10 ft shipping container. This puts it well under the 120 square foot limit that some municipalities impose while still offering all the benefits of container construction. With an 8 ft by 10ft footprint, this building is plenty large for a desk and a couple of chairs as an example.
This 20 ft container build has sliding glass doors on the side opening to large covered deck. On nice days, you can open the container’s end doors to reveal a small, covered side deck. Inside is a great space for a home office.
Large cutouts in the front wall give room to add huge floor to ceiling storefront glass windows and doors. This would be a great she shed or man cave to observe nature. With some curtains or blinds to keep out the sun at certain times of day, it would make a great workplace as well.
This simple container building set under the shade trees of a backyard offers the ultimate flexibility for indoor and outdoor activities. In good weather, the huge deck is a great place to read, stretch, or just relax in the chair. The sliding glass doors make it easy to move any equipment outside as necessary. And on days where being inside sounds better, you can still have a great view through the windows and doors.
A home office like this one has room for everything you need to get work done including a deck, filing cabinets, and shelves. And just think how much better you’ll feel looking out through that beautiful window.
This very famous container building was actually designed to be a guest house, but with very few tweaks it would be a wonderful she shed as well. With windows galore, warm wood panelling, and incredible window views, what’s not to love. And the green roof not only helps keep the heat of the sun out of the interior but provides the beautiful smells and colors of the flowers and plants above.
If you’ve been looking through the previous animals wondering if a corrugated metal building will look right in your yard, this container building should set your mind at ease. It’s simple to add exterior cladding to a container that completely transforms the look. This she shed has a look that’s both modern and beachy-chic.
A huge deck in front and two sliding doors mean this container is ready for activities all year round. You could roll out your yoga mat inside or out and still have a great experience. And, it shows how even a relatively simple container building design can be accented with a few pieces of artwork to make a truly awesome space.
The container home office in Canada was created for an HGTV show. The owners not only got a small office space but also placed a traditional shed on the end for storage of deck equipment, toys, and sports gear. Placing the container right in the middle of the garden gives comforting views through the huge windows too.
This container building utilizes earth tone colors and textures to help the exterior blend into nature. The staggered, horizontal side windows provide light without being overpowering. Inside is a modern design that can be used as an office or anything else.
The container building is quite unique, but it’s a bit hard to see why from this view. The first three or so feet of the container actually serve as a covered porch, and the sliding glass door starts at this point to open up to the rest of the interior. It means slightly less interior room in exchange for a great transition space. And on temperate days, you can open up the main container doors to get a cross-breeze across the entire length of the container.
With huge sliding glass doors and windows, this container is covered in glass on three sides. The fourth wall has warm, wood paneling with a dark reveal joint to give a slight texture to the surface. A room that’s both cozy and light would be a great fit for many uses.
This fun garden container building has adjacent doors on both the front and side, creating what is effectively a corner entrance. One direction leads to a small, covered porch while the other goes right out to the lawn interspersed with concrete pavers. A rain-water catchment system on the roof keeps cisterns filled to keep the garden green.
She sheds and man caves are incredibly versatile spaces that ultimately allow you to pursue your interests with freedom. We’ve covered dozens of ways you might use one of these spaces, along with various ways you can build or buy one. And we’ve highlighted several reasons why we think shipping containers are the best type of structure to use.
What types of man cave and she shed uses have we missed? Have you seen or created a container building of your own that fits this model? Tell us more in the comments below!