Lovely In The Night

Armando and I start this post by pouring the concrete for the counter tops in the master and second bathrooms. It took us about three hours to mix and place the concrete in the forms that I showed in my last post. Here are some photos:


We’ll put a lamp on this little concrete shelf that is (soon to be) next to the toilet.


We took extra pains to work the somewhat stiff concrete around the rebar and into all the corners.


This is the counter for the two vessel sinks in the master bathroom. Just to the right of my arm you can see two pieces of pipe sticking up out of the concrete. These pipes create holes for the faucet and the sink drain

We even made a small counter to go behind the deep sink in the laundry. Cynthia is looking forward to having this little project done so she can use the sink:


After we leveled the concrete, I returned to the concrete several times during the day to steel trowel the surfaces smooth. As of this writing, the forms are still in place until the concrete cures more fully.

My next project was to make-pretty the hallway between the second bedroom and the steps that lead down to the dining room. A long time ago I hung sheets of plycem (tile backer) on the metal studs. To start, I patched the screw heads with Bondo and sanded the spots smooth. Then using urethane caulk, I sealed the edges of the plycem where it met the container walls and ceiling. Next I washed and prime-painted the shipping container metal ceiling, and then gave everything two coats of the warm gray paint that we are using elsewhere in the house. Quite a transformation from its formerly uninviting space. Before:


After, much better:


On my monitor I see a yellowish glow around the door frame — it must be a lens flare or something because the frame is totally gray in real life…

Next, I tackled the stair landing area. To get rid of the useless triangular dust collecting area in the far corner, I hung a piece of plycem and caulked it into place between the two metal walls. Then I cut and installed some steel angle to make a suspended-ceiling-like support for the ceiling and screwed it into place. (At this point I was still unsure what to use for the ceiling panel…) So far it looks like this:

P1020265-001Next, I had to make the ceiling panel. I was loathe to buy another $35 sheet of plycem, so I spent some time kicking around the jobsite, checking out our dwindling piles of building materials. I had a piece of plywood that would have worked, but because of my none-or-as-little-as-possible wood policy because of termites, I nixed that idea. I thought about using the zinc roofing panels, but I would have to buy some.

Finally, I stumbled upon a piece of rusty one-eighth-inch diamond plate steel left over from building the staircase to the loft and roof deck. Oh, why not (as I had no other use for it)? I cut it to size with the angle grinder with a thin cutoff disk and buffed it out with a steel brush on the angle grinder.

I was going to paint the piece, but Cynthia walked by and suggested that I simply apply boiled linseed oil to it (as I did to the staircase). The steel was outside in the hot sun, so I oiled it and wiped it dry in no time at all.

The remaining task was to lift the heavy piece of steel and drop it into place on its support angles:



One step and maxed-out muscles at a time…


Ooph, this is heavy!




Unless Earth suffers a catastrophic failure of the Laws of Gravity, this hunk of steel is in place to stay. We think the diamond plate provides an unexpected design punch.

I still need to paint the surrounding walls the same gray as the hallway, but now several arduous hallway tasks are done.

While I had the gray paint ready to go, I decided to paint the indoor-side of the metal framework around the big front windows. The job started out looking like this:


The top two panes of glass are high off the floor. My tallest stepladder is eleven-feet high, but not high enough. So I lashed another ladder to the stepladder to create more height. I didn’t climb on the extra height, but (note to my friend Robin in Colorado) it gave me a sturdy hand-hold while I painted. Falls from ladders are no joke and I didn’t want to join Robin in that unenviable club. I like my Little Giant ladders — note how the base of the ladder flares out for more stability.

I’d primed the metal a long time ago, but I gave it another coat of oil-based primer for good luck. Then I applied two coats of the latex gray. When I was all done painting, I cleaned the windows inside and out. Twice. I finished the job at dusk and decided to finish the day with a few photos:




Inside, looking from the living room.

We think that the house is lovely at night:


The next photo may take you a moment to figure out:


Call the magazine editors:


Lastly, tired from trying to keep track of me, Jabo chills out on the cool tile floor and relaxes to the sound of the bubbling fountain:


That’s all for now. Thanks for stopping by.

19 thoughts on “Lovely In The Night

  1. Love the night photography. Cyn and Fred, I am back in EV and look forward to seeing you two and all that you have achieved in the last eight months.

    • Hi Rebecca,

      So an Egotistosist I am. Good enough for me if it comes from you. Glad you like the night shots. These pix were with a $100 point and shoot — I wish the lenses for our good Canon Rebel hadn’t grown mold and mushrooms inside the works. I’m looking at a several-hundred dollar cleaning, another consequence of this humid climate. See you in a couple weeks! Thanks for the comment. Fred

  2. Holy Guacamole!! looking good kids!! I am so thrilled for you and proud to know such amazing artists!! bless and hugs!!

  3. hey friends,
    been reading your blog for a bit and have bought a parcel of land here in tennesee to build my container house on. i’m a bit daunted, as you seem to be much more handy than i am but you’ve answered a few questions and enforced a couple ideas for me. i applaud you on your hard work and craftiness. everything looks great. keep on keeping on. thx d

    • Hi Dee,

      Thanks very much for your supportive comments. Funny, I feel that this project was a very steep learning curve because before this steel and concrete house I was a carpenter my entire working life. But now we have Google! Don’t be afraid to do a bunch of research and then just start. You can make most corrections (I’ve made a lot…) as you go. Very best of luck, have fun, learn a lot, manage the frustrations, and be proud of what you will accomplish. Thanks again Dee. Fred

      • hey fred, thanks for the encouragement. going out today to start clearing my build spot. keep up the great work and keep posting. be well, d.

  4. I’m in the process of starting my shipping container home in the Sierra Nevada, Spain. Your home is an inspiration. I am looking forward to learning all the skills and solving the numerous problems. That’s what life is all about, right?

    • Hi Rene,

      Thank you for your comment and I am happy that my home is an inspiration. Yes, I believe that you have the right attitude about embracing the learning curve and problem solving. A container house is a good project to develop new skills and make stuff up! Thanks again and good luck with your project in Spain. Fred

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