What are budding bach owners to do, when they’ve bought the perfect piece of land, but the bach itself is a few years away? Such was the dilemma faced by Anya and Mark Brighouse at the tail end of 2014. After several years holidaying in the area, they’d finally became the proud owners of a little plot of paradise in old Point Wells. But with the Christmas holidays fast approaching, they realised they had no way to enjoy it - and just four weeks to come up with a plan.
Mark, a camper from wayback, thought tents would be the go. Interior designer Anya decided he could perish that thought. Glamping was far more her style.
So a compromise was born. Anya found a company supplying modified shipping containers, and purchased a “special goods” container that opened completely at the front. This would be the kitchen and dining space, and store all their belongings when they were back in the city.
They had the container painted (Dulux Orakito for the interior and Dulux Black for the exterior). “We left the ply floor as it suited our purposes perfectly,” says Anya. “I had a three-metre turquoise canvas awning made for the front of the container, and this became our outdoor living area.”
Then she set to work on the “glamping” factor. “We tried to use things we already had, or buy them locally,” says Anya. “Crates from in an op shop in Mangawhai became our shelves, and we bought a lantern from Old School and put a torch inside for lighting while we ate our dinner.”
A garden table served as the dining table, with stools grabbed from around their Auckland home. An old pine table was repurposed as a kitchen bench, with a plastic bucket for a sink and a gas camping hob, while a freestanding pine cupboard made a fine-looking pantry.
Next came the sleeping quarters. Well if it had to be tents, they were going to be lovely ones. Anya settled on two large canvas bell tents from Wildernest. One held a king-sized bed for the grown ups, the other, four mattresses for their three children still at home.
Then came the pretty bits – strings of fairy lights and bunting, fabric and wire lanterns, vintage jugs filled with flowers, a retro couch (a family favourite) covered in bright floral upholstery fabric, crocheted rugs, colourful bed linen and a well-shaded dog bed for Ludo the labradoodle.
“We picked up dahlias from the market, and vegetables from the farm around the corner. A chilli bin filled with ice each morning was our fridge.”
Ah Yes, those practical but nonetheless important details. “Our long suffering neighbours gave us water for our first year, and in our second we had a small water tank put in place that we used for the entire summer. Our toilet was a portaloo serviced weekly. Not ideal – but we managed very well thank you!”
That second summer they also upgraded the parents’ bedroom to a shed from Ecosheds, giving the teenagers more space in the bell tents for visiting friends.
Now the builders have broken ground on the Brighouses’ plot of paradise, there’ll be no more “glamping”. The container is up for sale for someone else to enjoy and everyone’s a little nostalgic for summer days gone by.
“I can safely say that the time in our container home was easily the best holidays we have spent as a family,” says Anya. “There was an easiness and an uncomplicated feel to our six weeks up there each year.”