Bland is not necessarily bad when the goal is to cheaply and easily reuse something industrial as a residential space. While a lot of cargo container homes delight the senses, these few dozen rather austere, bare-bones modular designs somewhat boldly focus on the nuts and bolts, so to speak, of living in a metal box.

“InterModal Design believes in the power of simplicity, the importance of affordability and the necessity of green spaces to enjoy the comfort and beauty of nature. IMD began after the construction of partner Paul Stankey’s own shipping container cabin in the relaxing woods of northern Minnesota.”

Reduce, reuse, recycle – a classic but applicable motto – works well with these variously-configured shipping containers designed to be used as cabins, cabanas, guest houses or off-the-grid residences. There is nothing fancy (in a good way) about the fold-down chairs, tables and beds the tuck neatly into walls when not actively needed, opening up floor area and serving multiple uses.

Unlike many more-conceptual approaches, there is an appropriate minimalism to the process laid out by this pragmatic Midwestern company. They have a flat-fee design rate, offer guidance on permitting, and provide standard architectural advice related to site, soil and foundation requirements and assistance with delivery and setup.

Still, not all of their ideas are strictly limited to conservative interiors and unfinished exteriors – some are overly more ‘home-like’ in terms of their outer form, while nonetheless using elemental prefab building blocks to keep down construction costs and eliminate unneeded complexities. Even these more-evolved models utilize existing open ends rather than unnecessarily cutting new doors and windows into old recycled containers.