Stephen and Julie Shea love New Zealand almost as much as they love their native Montana. They revel in the natural beauty, wide open spaces, unspoiled wilderness and unbridled sense of place and belonging that both provide. That personal sense of being a part of, fitting in with—and connecting to—the land was paramount when they built their “Kiwi House” in Bozeman, Montana.
Their home, they decided, didn’t have to be big. It did, however, have to be just right…in size, sustainability and personal style. That’s because this Montana home is the blueprint for an identical twin Steve and Julie dream of building one day in New Zealand, their favorite travel destination and intended home-away-from-home.
Designed by Ben Lloyd and Laura Landon of Comma-Q Architecture, Inc., the Bozeman home, at 823 square feet, supports the Sheas’ active lifestyle, is about minimum size and maintenance, and was constructed with maximum quality materials.
“The ‘Kiwi House’ is organized around the primal element of fire,” says Lloyd. “It looks to the sun, and centers around a hearth featuring a wood-burning Tulikivi soapstone fireplace, to create an environment that is both energy efficient and comfortable.” The Tulikivi unit serves as a design element, forming a complementary frame to the entryway. Functionally, it also works with the radiant heating in the polished concrete floor, generating a sustainable and cost-effective heat source.
Small floor area, super-insulated construction and photovoltaic panels beget budget-friendly utility bills. Adds Lloyd: “The Sheas actually feed the power grid when they are away in the Southern Hemisphere enjoying New Zealand. One day, they hope to have a place to come home to that’s exactly like the one they left. They’ll be bringing the spirit of the West—and themselves—to New Zealand, along with a house that’s just right.”
Tulikivi, headquartered in Juuka, Finland, is the world’s largest manufacturer of heat-retaining fireplaces, exporting over half of its output to Europe and North America. The company’s complete range of fireplaces, consisting of more than 60 models, is considered among the cleanest wood-burning fireplaces in the world. Tulikivi has six production plants and employs over 500 people.
Photos by Lockie Photography