What we’re lis­ten­ing to:

NZ Life & Leisure - - Summer Loving -

We love be­ing out on the deck with some Black Seeds or Ed Sheeran. We use a wire­less Boom speaker.

Af­ter dinner Ilse and Matt put the chil­dren to bed and with the help of Ilse’s par­ents, a baby mon­i­tor and a real time cam­era, they ab­sconded to Matt’s nearby work­shop where the two ship­ping con­tain­ers were be­ing read­ied. “We spent long hours grind­ing rust and prim­ing and my in­dus­trial over­alls were not the most at­trac­tive thing. It was ex­haust­ing for Matt who worked a full day, was home briefly for dinner, then work­ing on the con­tain­ers some­times un­til two in the morn­ing.” “But Ilse was awe­some with the grinder,” says Matt. Be­yond the realm of awe­some is the end re­sult of their so­lar­pow­ered, ship­ping con­tainer as­sign­ment. “It’s just amaz­ing to live in. Although space is tight, we’ve learned to be con­tent with very lit­tle and we’re off the grid for­ever – we’d never go back. It is sat­is­fy­ing, sim­ple and so much fun to live in.”

In fact so much fun and so fab­u­lous – and with a self-build price tag of ap­prox­i­mately $150,000 – that they want to do it again. Matt, who now has his own de­sign and build en­gi­neer­ing prac­tice, Otto En­gi­neer­ing (ot­to­engi­neer­ing.co.nz), has added the con­struc­tion of ship­ping con­tainer houses into his man­u­fac­tur­ing port­fo­lio.

“Just as the big house showed us what was too much in life, this house is show­ing us how lit­tle we need,” he says.

Matt and Ilse say there is a word in Dutch – gezel­lig – that em­bod­ies the spirit of the way they now live. “It is not about hav­ing a mon­strous house, it’s about your home rep­re­sent­ing who you are. About fam­ily and friends, shar­ing food at the dinner ta­ble, am­bi­ence, cosi­ness and the beauty of a sim­ple life.”

And that life, in two re­cy­cled steel boxes, with three small chil­dren and one large-scale dog, is prov­ing to be quite a beau­ti­ful thing.

Where is the Green Sheep? We’re full on with chil­dren’s books. Bella is cur­rently crazy about Enid Bly­ton so

se­ries is a favourite. THIS PAGE, CLOCK­WISE: Hawke’s Bay sum­mer nights equal fuss- free fam­ily meals at Matt’s hand­crafted out­door ta­ble made from sur­plus steel and re­cy­cled tim­ber; the magic of grand­par­ents liv­ing be­hind the hedge. Bella and Arlo have climbed across the stile and head into Oma and Opa’s gar­den next door; a de­mo­li­tion yard drink­ing foun­tain is an ab­so­lute gem. No more ‘ Mum can I have a glass of wa­ter?’

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