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From shipping container to creative tiny

Nov 01, 2023Nov 01, 2023

The cosy office/studio and relaxation zone features a stove and chimney.

There cannot have been a horsebox or container in Ireland that's been allowed to lead a quiet life these past few months.

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None has escaped our beady eyes and fevered imaginations as we calculate their potential.

Some intrepid business-minded folk have followed through and actually opened up a coffee box, gourmet snack outlet or hipster workspace in one of these mobile units, but who among has not fantasised about reinventing one?

Well, kudos to super-creative Caitríona Bergin. The Rossinver, Co Leitrim, artist transformed a shipping unit into the most appealing of multi-functional outdoor rooms — complete with art studio and office.

Caitríona's container conversion ensured she was one of the two finalists on this week's Big DIY Challenge on RTÉ One.

Host PJ Gallagher caught up with Caitríona who is, as he describes it, "living the good life on a small farm in north Leitrim".

Of her move to Leitrim and DIY odyssey, the artist says: "When I left Dublin flat-pack was kind of the way it was. I was never afraid to do anything, put up a few shelves and things like that — but when I came up here [DIY] was just a necessity; you have to know how to do stuff."

And before our eyes, Caitríona zips into action, transforming the 40-foot shipping container into an office, relaxation room and an art studio in just 10 days.

What can't she do? Caitríona varnishes the floors, builds a desk for her art studio, then proceeds to cut tiles.

She next becomes a plumber, installing a Belfast sink beside the art desk, then drills a hole in the roof for the stove's chimney flue. "I’ve only just started to weld," she tells us.

In the container's office zone, she places the writing desk and chair she's just refurbished.

She paints the walls herself, in an ombre effect, complete with fern stencilling.

As host PJ said, Caitríona "tiled, plumbed, welded, sawed, planted, painted and grafted" her way to this dream space. "I didn't think I’d do such a good job, I surprised myself," she admits.

The judges deem the standard to be exceptional, noting, in particular, the range of skills and tools used.

Another Leitrim DIYer is a finalist in episode three this week when Jonathan McGovern, Drumkeerin, fashions "every child's dream" in the words of host PJ.

Jonathan designs and constructs a treehouse on stilts from his daughter Molly — all from upcycled pallets.

This week PJ also visited Emma Corbett and her family in Toorard, Co Mayo, who undertook a huge makeover in a tiny bathroom.

PJ virtually dropped by to party with Keith Caffrey and his wife Angie who built a colourful Ibiza-inspired garden in Offaly.

Joanne Condon in Tipperary sent PJ packing when he tried to help painting her colourful chicken coop, and Fiona Woods and her sons in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, completed a living room makeover.

Firefighter Alan Parkes and his family in Beaumont, Dublin, revamped his garden and added a water feature, while Denis O'Sullivan in Millstreet, Co Cork, upcycled an old school desk into a modern workstation, and Teresa Faherty in An Spidéal, Co Galway, renovated a cast-iron rocking chair and table.

Jade Kearney in Cherry Orchard, Dublin, meanwhile, created a clever card tray to make the family games night much easier.

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