Florida Airbnb shipping container is a hit with ’60s pop art

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) – Walking into Rob DePiazza’s house is like stepping back in time to the height of the pop art revolution of the 1960s.

All the Andy Warhol and Keith Haring style prints, bold patterns, primary colors and mid-century mod design, the DePiazza structure has crafted looks and feel 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 goes. The exhibit certainly stands out in this quiet residential neighborhood populated mostly by modest old Florida stucco or two-story ranches off US 1 in St. Augustine.

Converted container homes, with their austere utilitarian and industrial aesthetics, have spread to communities across the country.

When DePiazza first built the house at 1369 Prince Road, he wanted it to be only his family home, a replacement for the residence he had lived in for over 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 Airbnb.com whenever he travels. After obtaining the appropriate license, the list is already available on the short-term rental website.

“A lot of people are still very curious about this, especially what it’s inside,” DePiazza said.

They are not alone.

According to a recent Airbnb.com survey, 21% of travelers said they were attracted to different types of accommodation: quirky spaces like farms and yurts, treehouses and, yes, shipping containers.

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

For $ 350 a night, guests at what DePiazza calls its PRCH (Prince Road Container House) get 1,600 square feet of living space that can accommodate six people, including a landing lounge; a restored 1957 jukebox; retro-style dining room bench / counter; BOSE audio system; Viking gas stove; and a large collection of art.

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 has played 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.

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

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

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

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

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

A six-person condominium in a similar neighborhood of St. Augustine to DePiazza typically costs between $ 150 and $ 200 a night on Airbnb, while a nearby single-family home costs around $ 250.

DePiazza said he hopes he has the reason to both explore new destinations while also sharing the house museum he is so proud to build and that others might enjoy as well.

It seems others agree.

The PRCH is already booked for the holidays.

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