Even though we’d only been talking on the phone for a couple of minutes, it was obvious that Anica was right up our street! We’re therefore delighted to introduce her to you. She lives part-time in a converted container on an industrial estate in south-west Germany with her cat Yoko. On hearing this, you might think she sounds bit like the Crazy Cat Lady from The Simpsons! But we can put your minds at rest, for Anica’s intentions in this project are completely different. Mind you, her pimped-up home 22 square metres in size is easily just as colourful as the world of The Simpsons!
It was in May 2019 that Anica began turning a rather tatty-looking metal box into a snug, colourful home. “Even though it already looks pretty good, there are still at least 30 more items on my to-do list!” she laughs. The creativity she displayed during the conversion project is unbelievable. As well as an incredibly cosy interior, on top of the container is a roof terrace she designed herself based on the principles of permaculture. It’s a great place to sit and relax on a nice day – and Yoko the cat, delighted with her spot in the sun, clearly agrees. Discarded drinks crates serve as stairs. “All the crates had to be drilled individually and then I fixed them with cable ties to form a stable staircase. It took ages!” Anica told us. “In my spare time, I love riding my motorbike. Mind you, I couldn’t this summer as I was so busy working on my new home!”
But all the effort she went to was definitely worth it. There’s a small kitchen, a dressing area, and lengths of fabric stylishly suspended from the ceiling. The laminate floor has a warm wood look and the walls are adorned with beautiful hummingbird wallpaper.
Living in a container isn’t exactly everyone’s cup of tea, so we wondered why Anica had chosen to do so. “It was partly by chance, although there were several contributing factors,” she revealed to us. “I’d always been somewhat fascinated by vanlife projects, but when you’re living with a cat, constantly being on the move can be a bit of a problem. I love the minimalism about my new part-time home. The fewer items I possess, the more time I have to spend on things which I really enjoy and are very important to me. I save huge amounts of time because it doesn’t take long to keep 22 square metres clean and tidy.”
By chance, friends of hers had rented a factory building on the same industrial site. The landlord had positioned a container adjacent to it, originally intending to use it as an additional office. But since it wasn’t required after all and Anica was on the lookout for an affordable place to stay, she had the idea of making it her home – at least for some of the time.
Although there’s no running water in her cuboid dwelling, Anica could shower and do her laundry in her friends’ workshop. And when it came to answering the call of nature, she had to find some sort of toilet which didn’t require water. For her, a chemical toilet was out of the question. “That’s something I remember from my childhood,” she said. “My parents had a fixed caravan in the Netherlands for years. The chemical loo was only an emergency solution in case any of us had to go to the toilet at night. My dad was very strict about this because he loathed emptying it.” He’s not the only one!
Anica found out about Kildwick separators on internet forums. “Wherever I looked, I read that Kildwick made the best diverters for women. That’s why I definitely wanted to have a Kildwick separator. Unfortunately, it was at precisely this time that I was moving from the UK to Germany. I went to the website every two days to find out whether the diverters were available again.”
Having a ‘throne of your own’ is important to her. “In theory, I could also use my friends’ loo. But who wants to go outside just for that, especially if it’s raining or you’re relaxing in your PJs?” We wouldn’t want to either, Anica!
There are loads of pictures of dogs on her Instagram profile and we wondered whether they all lived with her in the container. “No,” she laughed, “they belong to friends of mine. Some people like meeting in the pub – instead, we meet to take the dogs for a walk.” Anica mentioned they were nearly all rescued dogs, meaning the cute little rascals had once been stray dogs which had been taken in by a dogs’ home in Stuttgart.
Being team leader in an IT company, Anica spends a lot of time at work. Even so, she somehow still manages to find time for new projects. “I’ve just bought an old Volkswagen T3 and I’m going to convert it into a camper van.” We can just picture her broad smile at the other end of the phone line! “That’ll be my project for the winter evenings!” she declared proudly. A friend of hers was a trained vehicle mechanic, she added, and would also be converting her own VW T3 this winter. The two vehicles are currently parked next to each other in the workshop. “When we’re working on the vehicles and my motivation starts to flag, we spur each other on.”
No one at Kildwick is in any doubt that with this mindset, the two women will be out exploring the world in their camper vans next spring. “I’ll obviously be installing my next composting toilet in my T3,” she tells us. “It’s certainly not just another everyday item – I’m sure many people will agree with me that you’ve got to carefully choose the right one.” Once again, we share Anica’s point of view!
We can’t wait to find out how Anica transforms her van and will definitely keep tabs on her progress. And if you, too, are curious about what can be achieved with creativity, ideas and skill as well as what Anica’s T3 will finally look like, she invites you to visit her on Instagram.