This story is being featured as part of our “Yahoo Best Stories of 2015” series. It was originally published in September 2015.
Who knew that “dumpster diving” could make someone so famous?
New Orleans-based production designer and architect Stefan Beese created a sleek backyard swimming pool from a repurposed steel refuse container a few years ago, and he’s been swimming in eco-chic fame ever since.
The crafty invention was first featured in New Orleans’ Times-Picayune, and since then, it’s been on HGTV, in the Daily Mail and in Yahoo Makers. (Check out its Facebook page: Dumpster Dive DeLux).
“I was pretty overwhelmed by the positive response we received,” Beese tells Yahoo Makers. “Everybody seems to love the idea, and of course lots of people would love one for themselves. We saw articles popping up in China, Finland, Denmark — pretty much everywhere where people are craving a cold splash on an affordable budget.”
(Dumpster pool in all its glory. Photo: Stefan Beese)
Three years after the dumpster-turned-pool – dubbed “The Pool Box” – made its big media splash, Beese is happy to report that his reclamation project is still going … swimmingly.
“The Pool Box is holding up great, and we enjoy it every summer,” says Beese. Over the last couple of years, he has even made some improvements. One is aesthetic. “I added a water feature running alongside of the pool, with three water outlets coming off of the bamboo,” he says. The makeshift fountain brings the tranquil sounds of rushing water to his backyard — which can help muffle the constant splashing of Beese’s two boys, ages 4 and 7, who are big fans of the pool. (See the new water outlets briefly in the video above).
And he replaced the salt-water filtration pump with a larger sand filter. “It’s a nice, Zen-like addition [that] accompanies The Pool Box very well,” he said.
Beese made The Pool Box from a 22-foot-by-7 foot, 30-cubic-yard container from a Louisiana company. He cleaned out the steel box and coated it with anti-corrosion paint.
(File image of a dumpster. Credit: Thinkstock)
He then installed the pool in his yard, first digging into the earth a few inches and spreading limestone on the soil underneath to keep the box level on the uneven yard. He covered the outside with pine boards to evoke a Japanese bathhouse-style design.
Beese tells Yahoo Makers that building the pool did present some challenges. “Beside the exact position and leveling of the [container] when it’s set in place, you need to plan ahead lots of things that are hard to change later on once the pool liner is installed,” Beese says, “like the inlet and outlet positions, or the size and location of the filter pump, so there are no surprises later on.”
(Another view of the dumpster pool. Photo: Stefan Beese)
And then there are things you learn along the way, such if you have a saltwater pool, you can only use stainless-steel screws. “It’s definitely a learning curve,” he tells Yahoo Makers.
So is Beese about to go into the business of making Pool Boxes for the public? Maybe — he says he’s still evaluating responses to the Pool Box before deciding whether to start mass-producing them. Meanwhile, he’s circling other shipping-container reclamation projects, including a grandstand for a Texas soccer team.
But you don’t have to wait for Beese to build one for you; maybe you can build your own Pool Box. If that’s something you’re thinking about, Beese says preparation is key: “Do your homework before you start work on a heavy steel box, and plan every detail ahead of time,” he says. “It can be very difficult trying to change things later on.”
But the effort is well worth it when the result is a pool that’s a great backyard centerpiece — and an international conversation piece!
Also on Yahoo Makers: