What we’re listening to:
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?’