Airbnb’s Florida Shipping Containers Hit ’60s Pop Art Hit

ST. AUGUSTINE — Stepping into Rob DePiazza’s house is like stepping back in time to the height of the 1960s pop art revolution.

All Andy Warhol and Keith Haring-style prints, bold patterns, primary colors, and mid-century mod design, the structure DePiazza designed looks and feels like a museum exhibit dedicated to all of these cultural influences.

Oh, and then there’s the fact that it’s all housed in nine shipping containers—proudly rusty, mind you, as far as DePiazza is concerned. The display certainly stands out in this quiet residential neighborhood populated mostly by modest old Florida stucco or multi-level ranches off US 1 in St. Augustine.

Converted container homes, with their stark, utilitarian industrial aesthetic, have spread to communities across the country.

When DePiazza first built the house at 1369 Prince Road, he wanted it to be his family home only, replacing the residence he had lived in for more than three decades next to the property that was destroyed. by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

Since the structure was completed in February this year, he has considered sharing his creation with others and renting it out on every time he travels. After obtaining the appropriate permit, the listing is already posted on the short-term rental website.

“A lot of people are still very curious about it, especially what it looks like inside,” DePiazza said.

They are not alone.

According to a recent survey by Airbnb.com21% of travelers said different types of accommodation appealed to them: unusual spaces like farmhouses and yurts, treehouses and, yes, shipping containers.

In the first half of 2021, nights booked in unique accommodations increased by 45% compared to 2019, and the number of searches for unique accommodations increased by 94% compared to the same period in 2019, according to Airbnb.

For $350 a night, guests of what DePiazza calls his PRCH (Prince Road Container House) get 1,600 square feet of living space with one bedroom for six, including a landing lounge; a restored 1957 jukebox; retro style bench/counter; BOSE sound system; Viking gas stove; and a large art collection.

Guests can also take advantage of the PRCH’s unusual deck space, which includes a barbecue, as well as kayaks to launch into the nearby waterway.

For several years, DePiazza toyed with the idea of ​​a shipping container house. With the help of his friend and architect Stephen Bender, he figured out the logistics of the project.

A longtime owner of Screen Arts, DePiazza has operated a successful graphic screen printing business in West Augustine for years. The space also served as an art gallery, showcasing local and national artwork known for its boldness and innovation.

In the process, DePiazza’s love of collecting pop culture art helped him amass a large collection, which he wanted to display creatively in his dream home.

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His daughter, Gisella, 19, a sophomore at the University of Florida, also played a role in giving her father ideas and he said their collective vision for space “brought it all together”.

As for the end result, Gisella says, she and her friends think it’s “really cool; people are just really interested in places that are a little bit different,” as she paused to point out some of the original raw surfaces of the shipping containers that are still visible in the walls of the house.

Wanting to travel more in the near future, DePiazza said, he decided to take a chance and put the property on Airbnb. Barely a week later, he has already received a number of confirmations for upcoming stays.

A condo that sleeps six in a similar St. Augustine neighborhood to DePiazza’s list typically costs $150 to $200 per night on Airbnb, while a nearby single-family home costs around $250.

DePiazza said he hopes to have the reason to both explore new destinations on his own while sharing the house-museum he was so proud to build that others could enjoy as well.

Others seem to agree.

The PRCH is already booked for the holidays.

Register of Saint Augustine

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