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Hocking Hills shipping container cabin is Ohio’s coolest getaway

J.R. McMillan

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Holiday weekends in Hocking Hills offer ample opportunities for outdoor adventure. But Seth and Emily Britt’s first overnight stay at the site of their modern take on a cabin in the woods was more than either anticipated.

The family of four (now five) had recently closed on the lot after an exhaustive search for just the right spot to build what would become known as The Box Hop, a home away from home built from three enormous steel cargo shipping containers assembled in gravity-defying fashion. The sleek aesthetic and amenities break from the more traditional rustic retreats just a short drive from Columbus.

Exceeding expectations was always the plan. Getting rescued from rising flood waters in the middle of the night was not.

“Emily woke me up at around 2 a.m. freaking out. She’s normally the calm one, but she was terrified,” Seth recalled. “The water was creeping up the side of the RV. The fire department had to evacuate us because we couldn’t get back to the other side of the creek.”

When the waters receded, the Britt family found one of the shipping containers had actually floated downstream more than 300 feet into their neighbor’s yard. Rainfall and runoff would continue to plague the construction process. But now after a decade of dreaming, years of planning, and months of delays, their unlikely abode was finally ready to share with friends and strangers alike.

“It all started when I was working at FedEx as a third-shift package handler while going to Ohio State,” he revealed. “I grew up in a trailer in Jackson County and realized the shipping container I was loading was larger than the home I grew up in.”

Seth was already pretty handy, having rehabbed a duplex in Olde Towne East. The couple’s first home was a HUD house in West Jefferson that had been vacant so long it was overrun with raccoons. Neither was easily put off by hard work, or a little wildlife. A growing family drew them back to the city, but never dampened their dream.

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“We sold that house when the market was up and moved to Westgate. After putting in bids that fell through on several other properties to buy and fix up, we decided maybe it was finally the right time to consider the shipping container house,” he explained. “We spent a year trying to find the right lot with the right size, location, and access. Luckily, Emily knew exactly what she wanted, which helped narrow our options.”

Emily had earned her real estate license along the way, and had a natural knack for design. Her father works in environmental construction, so those insights informed and inspired her striking silhouette for The Box Hop. But the functionality grew entirely out of the family’s personal connection to the perennial destination for hiking, rock climbing, and scenic serenity.

“We’d been going to Hocking Hills for years, so we had this mental list of things we appreciated where we’d stayed, and things that were missing,” she recalled. “We wanted to create a different spin, the kind of place that would be more than just somewhere to stay, that felt like a place we would want to live.”

Much of the meteoric appeal of AirBnB is its authenticity over another ho-hum hotel room. But trying to make a place feel more like a home can easily end up a hodgepodge. The Britts sought the right balance, inside and out, by creating a simple and sophisticated stay unlike anything else in the Midwest.

The offset configuration of the two lower containers opened up a surprisingly spacious entertaining and dining area with a private bedroom and well-appointed kitchen at either end. The central spiral staircase leads to the second story patio and rotated third container with wall-sized windows at either end that blur the barrier between the bedrooms and the forest that surrounds them.

“We worried they would look boring side by side, so I played around with the design. When we considered options for the second story, I knew the containers were designed to be stacked and I could turn the top container and still support the weight. Then I just tweaked it here and there to try to line up the plumbing,” she said modestly. “The bedrooms would be a little smaller due to the width of the containers, but I knew we could work with that by bringing the outdoors in. The windows open the bedrooms to all of the seasons we have in Ohio.”

The result is stunning and unmistakable. The steel and glass that should contrast with the terrain mysteriously complement it. And at the right time of day, the reflection of the pines in those oversized windows makes what remains of the structure almost disappear into the tree line like postmodern camouflage. If you somehow combined Henry David Thoreau’s reverence for the natural world with Frank Lloyd Wright’s esoteric style, it would surely look a lot like The Box Hop. It’s Walden Pond meets Fallingwater.

“We’ve had a lot of folks ask us if we’d ever sell the place. But for us, it’s personal,” Seth confessed. “We spent countless hours designing every aspect, and it’s still a vacation home for our family and to come with our friends.”

Anticipated additions to The Box Hop include suspended seating and an outdoor shower to complete the existing patio area and hot tub, as well as a large-scale mural on the exterior that references and reinforces the emerging brand—all elements that were deferred due to construction delays. The couple coyly hinted that another container getaway isn’t out of the question. With more than 18 acres available, the additional location would offer the same privacy as the original, but with its own unique charm and character.

“For now, we don’t want to disrupt our guests with chainsaws clearing a landing spot for another house,” Emily laughed. “But we also didn’t expect to book up so quickly.”

For details on The Box Hop, visit theboxhop.com

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Home & Garden

Amp up your home style with color and quality from Georgie Home

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Move over, Pantone Color of the Year! A new local business offers a coordinated collection of quality home goods designed in rich color palettes, so consumers can easily and affordably elevate their home style.

Georgie Home, launched by Lauren Wagner and Laura Sullivan, offers thoughtfully designed home and lifestyle products. The company is dedicated to producing high- quality, simple, friendly goods to make your home feel fresh.

“We wanted to create something where we felt really good about the quality and offer products we’d want to have in our homes. We didn’t want something that you just run to a big box store and buy,” Wagner said.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

Wagner and Sullivan’s journey to launch their company was relatively quick. The pair worked together as graphic designers at a national company headquartered in Columbus in the early 2010s. As they searched for inspiration and created mood boards for work projects, they realized they had a similar vision.

“We’d get excited and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could do our own thing some day?’,” Wagner said.

A few short years later, that shared vision was realized when Georgie Home’s first collection launched in November 2019. Phoenix is a line of hand and bath towels in coordinating colors and patterns. The duo started with towels because it’s an easy way to bring a bit of luxury into the home, and high-quality towels will last. While most high-quality towels are plain, Georgie Home offers something unique by combining quality with patterns.

“When you reach a certain age, it’s nice to have a little bit of luxury, and you might as well get something that you will have a while for just a little more money,” Wagner said.

FOR THE LOVE OF COLOR

As designers, Wagner and Sullivan are passionate about color. And when they first started working professionally, there weren’t a lot of ways to feed that passion.

“I was having trouble coming up with color palettes and there weren’t a lot of online resources, so I started creating my own,” Wagner said. “I would find images that inspired me and pulled my color palette from that.” She began sharing these online in a blog about a decade ago, a collection that has evolved into an Instagram account.

As one can tell by Georgie Home’s collection, their current favorite colors (because, like all of us, Wagner said it changes over time) are sage and ochre (a warm yellow- brown) for Wagner, and dusty blue for Sullivan.

CREATE A COZY, PERSONAL SPACE WITH COLOR

Carrying color over into home decorating doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Wagner suggests using neutral colors such as whites and greys for walls, flooring, and furniture, and using pops of color throughout your space with items like throws, pillows, and wall hangings. She also likes to add natural elements such as dried flowers, which are trendy now.

“I keep my walls the same and change up everything around it,” she said. “My taste changes over time and this lets me update my décor without painting.”

This approach also makes it easy to decorate for the seasons.

“I will add things for the holidays, and I’ll add color in the summer and greenery in the winter,” Wagner said. “I keep it simple–I won’t change my wall hangings, but I’ll update my dining room table, my mantel, and towels.”

If you’re not sure where to start, Wagner suggests perusing Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration.

“There are a lot of home bloggers that are inspiring,” she said. “Find something that you love and recreate it.”

Wagner has a long list of local, chain, online, and brick-and-mortar stores where she finds her decorating elements. Locally, she recommends Jewelweed Floral Studio and Stump as great sources for plants, and Trove Warehouse and Elm & Iron for accessories and furniture. The outlet malls and Wayfair are great for budget-friendly options, and antique shops and Etsy are great if you’re looking for something no one else has. The big retailers such as West Elm, Pottery Barn, and Pottery Barn Kids also have some great pieces.

WHAT’S NEXT

Wagner and Sullivan hope to move Georgie Home into the brick-and-mortar space. With the first collection launched, they are reaching out to retailers to explore wholesale opportunities locally and nationally.

They’re also planning for their second line, which will launch next spring or summer. The collection is likely to include placemats, table runners, and tablecloths. While they haven’t decided on a color palette, it will be fresh and coordinated, and inspired by the season.

Shop Georgie Home’s inaugural collection at georgiehome.com.

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Home & Garden

Columbus Cribs: Scandinavian style, minimal holiday decor in this Columbus cookie-cutter-home

Regina Fox

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Sam Berry is a stay-at-home mom who is passionate about raising her daughter, Scandinavian design, photography, baking cookies, decorating her home, and sharing pics of it all on her Instagram page @chicincolumbus.

She recently moved into a builder-grade cookie-cutter-home in Columbus, which she and her husband are slowly turning into their perfect home. Keep reading read to learn how they're doing it!

614: What would you call your home style? 

SB: I struggle to describe my home style with one word or phrase. I recently took a design style quiz online that kind of opened my eyes to what my style actually is, because it’s all over the place. I love Mid Century Modern but I also like a touch of Industrial. I love Scandinavian design as well but I'm not enough of a minimalist to execute it well. I love a comfortable space that doesn’t feel too much like a magazine (not that I could ever live up to that expectation).

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4xpFyGgBfY/

614: What are some of your favorite items in your home?

SB: My favorite item in my home is the gold armchair I inherited from my late grandma. I have many memories of it in her home and love that I now have a place for it in mine. It is unique and embodies the Mid Century side of my home decor style (it’s also one of my favorite colors: mustard yellow). I also have a vintage Danish teak sideboard from Boomerang Room that I swoon over every time I walk by it. I would love to know who owned it before it made its way into my home.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2O48uogj3e/

614: Can you tell us some of the places you have found your items, or places you like to shop? 

SB: I get my things from all over, but primarily I shop either new at Ikea and West Elm or secondhand via Craigslist/Instagram/Facebook Marketplace. I have found some great secondhand deals, which turn out to be some of my favorite pieces. My favorite places to shop for decorative accessories are Grandview Mercantile, Elm & Iron, and World Market.

614: What inspires your design style? 

SB: I am inspired, as I’m sure many are, by Instagram (@_forthehome, @beginninginthemiddle, and @reserve_home are some of my current favorite feeds) and Pinterest. I love that there are so many different design styles and people out there, so there’s a never-ending supply of inspiration. I have thousands of pins and dozens of saved Instagram posts that I often review when I feel the itch to tackle a project or redecorate a space. I love to take an image that inspires me and recreate it with the items I already own.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5p7KwvgNgg/

614: What do you try to avoid while decorating? 

SB: I try to avoid buying and displaying things that I don’t really love. I believe the items we own can be beautiful and functional at the same time. I actively try to pare things back to only those that “spark joy” à la Marie Kondo. In addition to limiting my decorative items, I also try to not solely follow trends unless they align with my style. 

614: Any tips for winter/Christmas decorating? 

SB: Use what you have! I have so many items that were castoffs from my mom that I love so much so I make sure they have a place. I have added a few things over the years here and there as I come across them. Like the rest of my decor, I try to stick to only displaying those items that I love. I recently donated/threw out a lot of things I’ve been hanging on to that just don’t fit my style at the moment. Now I have room to replace them with things that fit better. 

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5vtlI1gcRG/
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Home & Garden

Columbus Cribs: This Worthington bungalow is a mid-century modern dream

Regina Fox

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If you're one of the 19.2k Instagram followers, you're likely already obsessed with @bungalow614. If not, we reckon you're about to be.

Taylor Basilio is a home decor enthusiast behind the gorgeous account. She's madly in love with her 1938 bungalow in Worthington that she shares with her husband, two kids, and two dogs. Basilio spends her time culminating the perfect moody environment, tackling as many house projects as she can handle, and eating desserts.

Keep reading to learn more about the local homemaker and her bungalow that gives us heart eyes!

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4QDncjHHRc/

614: What would you call your home style?

TB: If I had to use defined design "styles" I lean towards, I would say mid century modern and Scandinavian, but if I had to define my personal style, I would describe it as cozy spaces that feel lived in. I love moody spaces with contrast; mixing old and new elements like furniture, floors, and accents; and spaces that feel like home as soon as you walk in. My goal is that anyone who spends time in our house feels as comfortable here as we do.

614: What are some of your favorite items in your home?

TB: Most of my favorite things are items I scored secondhand off places like Facebook Marketplace. Before we moved back to Ohio last year I bought an antique dresser that's now in our master bedroom. It's not very practical, is super heavy, and the drawers will fall out if you pull too quickly, but I love how unique it is and the detail of the pulls. I love that I've never seen another piece like it. Another favorite piece is the dining room table my mother-in-law passed down to us a few years ago while downsizing. Not only is it beautiful, but we have so many great memories around it and no plans to stop adding new ones.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B4ft_qDnmin/

614: Can you tell us some of the places you have found your items, or places you like to shop?

TB: Like I mentioned above, I love Facebook Marketplace. There's something so good about an item someone else has loved before you; I love the history. I also love getting things for a fraction of the cost, regardless if they are name brand or not. If I need something new I always check there before going to a store or ordering online. Some of my favorite places to find really great, high quality items we've loved for years are Article, West Elm, and even Amazon. A brand I really admire and hope to add to my collection is Schoolhouse.

614: What inspires your design style?

TB: This really depends on what area I'm working on at the time. I love gathering inspiration, sometimes even months or years before a project, whether it's from Pinterest or a picture of the Bath & Body Works bathroom that I have saved on my phone (this is actually on my phone right now). Right now I feel really inspired by renovated interiors of old Brownstones and I've been working to include similar elements in our home (even though it's a 1938 bungalow and not remotely related to the spaces I use for my vision). I'm really driven by collecting inspiration from spaces I personally would love to spend my time in, and I love figuring out how I can reflect them in my home. My list of projects is never ending and the amount of posts I have saved on Instagram to look back on later is almost embarrassing.

614: What do you try to avoid while decorating?

TB: I used to have a really bad habit of decorating based on other people's opinions of my home. I could be very easily influenced by specific trends, like when the modern farmhouse style blew up. My whole house was modern farmhouse, but also very confused because it wasn't really my style at all. Eventually I got over keeping up with what I thought other people would like, and as soon as I did, my home felt more "me."

I also personally love when homes coordinate in some way, like carrying a specific paint color throughout each or similar accents. I love the cohesive feeling of walking through a home and it all feels like one piece with different personalities. In our house, we've carried the same paint colors all throughout, like in the window trim or doors. And don't forget that things don't need to be new to be beautiful!

614: Any tips for winter/Christmas decorating?

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5HDE5PnDoZ/

TB: My style tends to be really defined by the seasons, but I don't actually change out much of anything other than moving around stuff I already have or bringing in more outdoor elements. In the the summer, I feel inspired by a clean, white room with fresh flowers and bright lighting. We end up moving many of our plants outdoors when the temperature warms up and focus on our outside spaces, making areas like our backyard patio and fire pit as comfortable as they would indoors and spending a lot of our time out there. In the winter, I love filling my home with plants, garland, twinkle lights, and scented candles. And these tend to be my favorite months; I'm a total cold weather and gloomy day person, and I love when my house feels magical like the season.

Follow@bungalow614

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