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In a culture that is so concerned with appearance, it’s refreshing to hear stories where someone saw potential in the unthinkable. For Jamie and Brad Bigelow, their trash to treasure came in the form of a dumpster.

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Not many people would look at a dumpster and see potential for anything else other than its job to hold trash, never mind a place to call home. But with the tiny house movement constantly pushing boundaries, and exposing the incredible transformations that can be made to provide luxury, sustainability, comfort, and simplicity all in one, it makes sense that people are finding ways to recycle all sorts of containers.

The Bigelows wanted to find a vacation home among the gorgeous boulders of Florence, Arizona, at their friend’s ranch. “Our family goes out there a lot so we wanted a little house as a base that we could stay at,” Jamie said. “We just love going out there and stargazing.”

In search of something inexpensive to create their dream escape abode, the couple landed on buying an old dumpster for $800. Being a general contractor, Brad used his skills, along with the help of his brothers and nephews, to do most of the work involved in constructing their tiny sanctuary.

dumpster home

The old dumpster was transformed into a 176-square space comfortable for sleeping two, and offering an indoor wood-burning stove and spacious wood deck made from scaffolding plank they found in California. The now quaint cottage-like abode is a beautifully designed, rustic meets modern, tiny home that gives the couple a chance to both revel in the fact that they turned trash into treasure, and that they can inexpensively yet comfortably kick back when they visit their friends.

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dumpster home

With no electricity or water, the house is totally off the grid, but the couple do use a small generator to power the lights, and they take advantage of an outhouse that is next door as well.

But not everything is effortless, and sometimes the obstacles are just as important to discuss as the final product. The couple explained that one of the most difficult parts about transforming the dumpster into a livable space was cutting out the openings for doors and windows, as well as securing the studs, siding, and drywall to the corrugated thick metal walls. Though a bit of patience was needed for this process, once they got through it, they said everything else was smooth sailing.

dumpster home

The couple is in love with their tiny vacation home’s green windows that they discovered at a salvage yard. To make the space feel chic yet homey, they filled the home with stunning vintage pieces, such as lanterns, bed frames, and tables that they retrieved from the Old Brick House in Mesa, which just so happens to be Brad’s mother’s shop.
Brad and Jamie Bigelow, who spent a mere $13,000 to complete their project, are a great example of just how limitless our options can be, especially when it comes to living spaces. Take a look at more of their fascinating work on Instagram, and be prepared to get inspired: @bigelowbuilt.


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