In late 2018, interior designer Melissa Welsh and her husband purchased 100 acres of land in the York wheatbelt, an hour east of Perth. Originally planning to build a forever home for them and their two young children, their journey took an unexpected turn when COVID hit and their building plans were put on hold. “We were quite disheartened, but were so attached to the land that we spent every weekend camping out there. I would pack up all our things to camp 2km from our home which was ridiculous really, but the kids loved it,” says Melissa, who lives nearby in the centre of York town.
After digesting the COVID-led setbacks, Melissa began brainstorming ways to use the site, and armed with a keen interest in sustainability, she pitched an idea to her husband. “I’d been following the tiny home movement and container builds and I suggested we convert a sea container into off-grid accommodation complete with bathroom, kitchenette, two bedrooms and fire pit outside.” He went for it! Melissa subsequently purchased a $4,500 sea container sight unseen which marked the beginning of the creation of the property that would come to be known as Jam Tree Hill.
“The container arrived on a rainy morning and the challenges began. The delivery truck got bogged and we had some offloading struggles,” says Melissa. Essentially, the container was, through necessity, placed in the wrong location where it sat for eight months before the building process began. The rural location, devoid of mains power, demanded an off-grid solution and a septic system and the container footings had to be installed into rocky terrain. “There were quite a few challenges, but we got there in the end.”
Comprised of two bedrooms, a bathroom and kitchenette, the container’s 2.9 metre ceilings give the property an airy feel. And despite being a steel box, the interior feels spacious thanks to a decision to line it with Gyprock which allowed for the installation of crucial insulation.
As for the look and feel inside, Melissa drew on the surrounding landscape. “As a self-taught interior designer, I aimed for simplicity, focussing on natural materials and a colour palette inspired by the environment,.” She specified Colorbond Monument for the exterior alongside earthy toned interior hues. There’s rusty reds, white and gorgeous green joinery that is a nod to the eucalyptus trees that surround the accommodation. “Jam Tree is a type of eucalyptus that you can find on the property.”
“We are so happy that the project is finished and it’s come up better than we thought it would. The feel inside is great – it really doesn’t feel cramped.”
If tiny houses interest you, you should check out Tiny Home Solutions’ launch event with TV interior designer James Treble in Sydney on Saturday 2 March 2024. Free coffee and kids’ entertainment and the chance to look around five tiny homes on site (a very rare opportunity in Sydney metro!). Register online.