Put off by the damp, cold houses they could afford, a New Plymouth duo decided to put their money into a very small, very special new-build
Natalie Kennaugh and Zara Losch had been living in the United Kingdom, but in 2013 decided to head to New Zealand (a homecoming for Kiwi Natalie) and make their home in New Plymouth.
Recalling their search for somewhere to buy, Zara comments drily, “We saw the price of a lot of houses, and we saw a lot of cold and damp.” As a result, they made the brave decision to build instead – and go tiny. “It felt accessible from a money perspective and we didn’t want a big mortgage,” Zara explains.
They found a back section on the slopes of the Huatoki Valley, with lovely views and only a 15-minute walk from town. They got it for “a great price”, says Natalie, “because no one could imagine putting anything on such a steep site – but tiny homes work!”
After considerable thought, they chose to have two separate buildings, each 18 square metres, with a similar footprint to a shipping container but with higher ceilings. One is their home, The Nest. The other, about eight metres away, is their guest room, which they also rent out on Airbnb, and use as an extra living space. “Half of it is essentially a porch and we love eating at the bar table and enjoying a different view,” says Zara. This second dwelling is called The Matchbox.
Without wanting to sound cheesy,we’ve created a healthy, affordable, life-giving, beautiful home which has given us such an adventure along the way
Zara & Nat’s storage tips
- Use height to your advantage. We placed our kitchen on a 450mm-high platform, which doubles as an extra seat when friends are around. Under the platform is room for pull-out storage drawers. In The Matchbox we also used the height to its full advantage by having the bathroom on a platform, which allows room for a mattress underneath.
- Design to spec to make the most of space. We did this with our pantry, for example. One area of shelving in our kitchen is only 11cm deep, as that’s all it needed to be – we bought cups and then measured the shelves to the right height and depth.
- Be creative in finding a dual purpose for things. Rather than having a ladder up to our bed, we have steps which are effectively three large cubes which are open at the front; we have put soft drawers in them, to create extra storage space.
Words by: Monique Balvert-O’Connor. Photography by: Jane Dove Juneau.