Tag Archives: kitchens

I want an ISBU Kitchen for my Farmhouse!

31 May

We’re absolutely buried in work right now. Everyone and their brother, sister, cousin, aunt and uncle is breaking ground, getting their sites ready for the Spring/Summer ISBU build season! We have more projects running than Doan’s has little green pills! (Or were they blue? It’s been so long since I’ve seen them that I forget!)


As a result, we’re stretched pretty thin (literally scattered across the country),  so instead of starting a “primer series on pilings and foundations for ISBU structures” that we’d planned for this timeframe, we’re gonna reach into the mail bag and see what kind of mischief we can get in.

Hang on… here we go!

Dear Ronin,

We LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the idea of using containers to build our home. We live in rural Wyoming, where weather rests heavy upon the home you live in. Our farm is a heavily wooded site and we’d like to incorporate logs into our ISBU build.  You know, earthy, organic, natural… just like you reinforced in our consulting sessions with your team.  We thought that maybe we were “overreaching” when we started out on this path, but you showed us how to use “the old” blended with “the new” to make our dreams become reality.

As we start thinking about WHAT we’ll build specifically, we’re working room to room. We both cook, so the kitchen is going to be a focal point. We don’t want “gourmet” or a “chef’s kitchen”… we just want to be able to cook together in comfort.

Where we’re stumped is in the “kitchen” department and all the various materials blending in together. ISBUs, logs, stainless steel, granite tiles. It all gets so confusing!  We know that you don’t like to insulate inside the ISBUs (we know that you prefer to do it on the outside) but we’d like some kind of veneer or covering on the interior walls. There will be places in the house that the corrugation will show, but in the kitchen and family room, we’d kinda like to keep it clean and traditional.

Most of the ISBU homes you see on the Interweb are pretty sterile. They’re bland, boring, minimal. We don’t want to live in a museum or an art gallery, we want to live in a warm, cozy, embracing environment.

We’d like finished walls and a finished ceiling (preferably with light cans installed in it). I know that you love “High Cube” Containers because of the extended ceiling heights, but we’d like recessed lighting.

We imagine a corner kitchen with an Island or a Breakfast Bar and we’re  going to build it out of materials that we pull out of another log home. We’re going to refinish the cabinets in a light color so that they’re not “overwhelming or dark”. We’re thinking about a “honey oak” color.  I know how you love to recycle and repurpose, so that’s our goal for this new house.

We’d like hardwood floors. We thought about polished concrete, but it just doesn’t do it for us.

Have you ever done this before? Mixed Steel and Wood to construct a very “cabinish” kind of farmhouse? I’d love to see some photos of how you blended the two materials together to make a Cabin or Farmhouse kitchen.


Wanting Wonderful Winters In Wyoming


Dear “4W”,

One of the really nice things about using ISBUs to build homes is that they’re just metal boxes. Think of them as modular blocks that stack together to form “space” that can literally look like anything you want. The limit really is your imagination.

MANY ISBU homebuilders end up with finished structures that are hard-pressed to identify as ISBU Metal Monsters. It’s for this reason we have so much fun with them. they can become anything we want, in any color of the proverbial rainbow.  They take on any shape we need, they’re “tonka tough” and are not difficult to construct (once you get the basics under your belt).

We’ve helped families build ISBU homes that defied their origins. Even up close, you just couldn’t TELL that they started out as “glorified cargo boxes” that lived lives plowing the high seas full of Chinese Electronics headed to Walmart.

But I digress…

You asked it we’d ever combined ISBUs, Logs, Granite and Stainless Steel. You “doubled up” by asking if we’d ever done it with recycled and repurposed materials.

This was built last year. The ranchhouse was constructed out of ISBU wings joined together by a log structure in the center. It was (and in my personal opinion) and IS the best of both worlds.  I’m doing something similar with my own ISBU Home.

I asked the homeowners to send me a few photos.  They were happy to oblige. They’re blissfully happy in their new home. They told me that the “honeymoon” still isn’t over yet…

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, here’s a mouthful;

ISBU Kitchen - 514-1w

Recycled cabinets. Check.

Recycled Granite Tiles. Check.

ISBU Kitchen - 514-2w

Finished walls. Check.

Log Beams. Check.

ISBU Kitchen - 514-3w

Cozy, comfortable cabin style kitchen big enough for two adults to cook in. Check.

Recessed Lighting in ceiling. Check.

Nice Hardwood floors. Check.

All of it safely tucked inside strong, sustainable, durable, low maintenance ISBUs. CHECK!

Seen enough?

Next time, ask us something hard. 🙂

The point is that unless you SAW the house go up, you’d never know that it was wearing steel  lingerie. All you see is the dress.  And that dress can be anything you can imagine. The key is good design and then good execution. Get those right and you’ll have a winner.

Now, all this talk about kitchens is making me hungry. I’m outta here.

Till next time, be safe, be well and be kind.


RR Avatar



iPhone – iPad – E-Book – ECooking. It was only a matter of time. :)

23 Apr

We have a treat for you today.

Many readers who follow the blog know that we preach about taking long hard looks at the space you use, so that you can build spaces that provide for your needs without waste or excess.

Many of our readers are using ISBUs to build vacation retreats – “getaway destinations” that are used seasonally. These hunting cabins, fishing cabins and rural retreats need to provide the required services without breaking the bank.

Many ISBU families are down-sizing and building “ISBU cabin-style” homes that occupy small footprints, while providing large benefits. They do this by building multi-purpose, multi-tasking spaces that can expand and contract to provide services.

Many of our readers are using ISBUs to build “tiny house” structures that provide maximum usage in a minimum footprint.

In keeping with that theme, I want to share this with you;

(Now I admit that we saw this tiny-kitchen and at first, we laughed. But then, we started thinking about HOW they use the space and WHY it made sense.)

When this unit is closed, it’s difficult to figure out what it’s purpose is. But once you start opening the modules that it’s comprised of, you’ll find yourself amazed.

clei-ecookingIt’s a veritable “transformer” of a unit that contains;

  •  A refrigerator and freezer.
  •  A sink, with a faucet that you tuck into the bowl when you twist the sink module closed.
  •  A four-burner induction cooktop — plus an air vent and purifier powerful enough to clean the air of a 150-square-foot room.
  •  A dishwasher.
  •  A coffee maker.
  •  Storage space.
  •  An herb garden fed by gray water (your dishwater from the dishes).
  •  (3) separate countertops adding up to 15 square feet of surface area, available for prep work or dining.

It’s called the Ecooking kitchen from Clei and it’s the poster-child for good looking, streamlined, multipurpose, transformable, space-efficient kitchen activities.

Sure, it’s “modern” and “slick”, but it does have a certain “style” about it, if you can get past that yellow color. While we find the concept interesting, we’d ditch that canary yellow finish, for sure. 🙂

The people who designed it will tell you that;

“The E-Kitchen is a practical vision for what you can fit into a small apartment in a way that’s neither cluttered nor cheap-looking. It’s easy to imagine the tower gracing a pricy Manhattan loft or a San Francisco studio.”

The kitchen was originally projected to hit the market by the middle of this year, but Clei’s American distributor says that there is one more technical issue is left to resolve, so it’s now expected to go on sale in Europe in October; the United States will follow soon after.

“It’s much more a reality now than a theoretical exercise,” said Ron Barth, co-founder of Resource Furniture in New York, exclusive North American distributor of Clei.


Closed, the kitchen occupies floor space of 70 by 70 centimeters, or a little over 2 feet by 2 feet. But it’s capable of expanding to triple its closed size, and three people can work or eat together at the unit, each facing a different direction. “Essentially a 27.5-inch square becomes an 82.5-inch corner kitchen,” Barth said.

“Nothing like this has ever even been attempted before in terms of the rotating elements,” Barth said. So perhaps it’s no wonder that the projected for-sale date has been pushed back: There have been “a lot” of durability tests on the unit — particularly the central point of rotation and its construction materials, which have been revised “over and over,” since it’s “the key element in the product’s usefulness and useful life,” he said.

Ron say that pricing information is available for the first time: In Europe, the E-Kitchen will set you back 10,000 to 11,000 euros (about $14,000 to $15,000 at the current exchange rates).

Okay, stop gasping! Once you get past the sticker shock, think about what it does and how it does it. Here at RR we counsel families to look at something that appeals to them and then… reverse engineer it so that they can have it without the hefty price-tag.


You could build this in a wood-working shop. In fact, you could build this using components you found at IKEA or a “big box” store. All it would require is some careful consideration and a considerable amount of attention to detail and patience.


Here’s a (very) short video showing the motion of last year’s version of the kitchen, shot at the Salone del Mobile 2013:

A little bit of this… and a little bit of that…

24 Sep

Sorry for the delays in posting this week!

My little boy has a lung infection, and that takes precedence over everything else. Oy.

Here on RR, we’re talking about repurposing ISBUs (shipping containers) and turning them into affordable housing for the masses.

And that brings up a ton of questions. Believe me, I get mail like you wouldn’t believe…

Sure, some of it is of the “You must be crazy!” genre, but some of it is actually good stuff, asking hard questions about how you can use these seemingly small spaces to create affordable, livable, space, that you ‘ll be more than happy with, for decades to come.

As things get harder, as unemployment continues to stalk us like hungry sharks smelling blood, we’re all starting to think about “tomorrow”.

I just read the new Census Report… Okay, It took a few tries, as my blood pressure kept spiking with each page of bad news;

Conservatively, 43.6 million Americans  are living at the poverty level.

That’s up 4 million people from 2008. That’s the largest number of impoverished Americans in the 51 years of recorded Census History.

Over 50 million of us don’t have health care programs or insurance.

(My family is in those ranks as well.) I just read a supplemental report that says the real number is closer to 75 million Americans.

Unemployment is in double digits in most major cities in America.

In my county it’s WELL into double digits… like over 20% and climbing.

And people are starting to get nervous. This has spawned a deep seated desie in many families to “pull back and restructure.

With foreclosures running rampant, and houses sitting on the market for “months and months” that “look and feel like years”… many of us realize that if we want to find a better way to live, we’re not only going to have to do it ourselves, we’re going to have to pay for it ourselves, as well.

As a result of this, lately more than a few of you have asked me how to turn a single shipping container into a small home. And some of you have asked me about building kitchens into these small spaces.

So, I’m going to start featuring products and concepts that play to these small spaces, to give you some ideas and starting points. I’ll call it;

Stuff that contributes to Corten Coolness;

It’s all about design and application.

This kitchen workbench by Bulthaup is a kitchen in a single element, ergonomically designed for access from all sides. Included is a cooking area, a flat sink for preparing and washing food, and a deeper sink integrated into a utility recess. Also, the chopping board and slicer can be moved across the entire sink surface to create a highly functional system.

Note: Source measurements and installation requirements.

See the entire line of innovative products at Bulthaup.com.

Stay tuned.