This is the house that Francois built

We recently visited a friend and supplier of ours, Francois from Le Workshop, and his wife, Sarah-Lee, in their amazing tiny home that Francois built himself here in Napier, Hawke's Bay. Measuring only 7m x 3m, the house is made from American cedar outside, with plywood inside and American ash on all the trims and the window seat.

The couple share the house with their three gorgeous children, Poppy (8 years), LouLou (5 years), and Francis (3 years). Although the two girls are currently attending a local primary school, Francois and Sarah-Lee plan to homeschool the kids next year. They're excited to take a holistic approach to their children's development and teach them real life skills.

The couple bought the land 1 1/2 years ago, but Francois' has had a workshop on the site for some time, so he was very familiar with the location. The workshop is next to the house, so there was already power to the site. The kitchen has gas hobs, and is cleverly designed to make the most of the small space. The fridge is cleverly hidden behind the ply cabinetry, and the sink has a board that sits snugly on top to create extra bench space when needed.

With such compact living, life is all about every day needs. "We think twice about what we buy," says Sarah-Lee. "The kids blocks are just as important as our special books."

Tucked behind the bookshelves are the kids' bunk beds, with Francois and Sarah-Lee's bedroom above on the mezzanine floor. "Upstairs is like a second living space," Sarah-Lee tells us. "The whole family often watches the sun rise together up there in the morning".

To the side of the kids' space is the tiny bathroom complete with shower, composting toilet, and a little basin. The tiny home has many advantages, including being able to clean it from top to bottom in 10 minutes. The double glazing and wood-burner fire keeps them cosy warm. "We went from having a $400 monthly power bill in our last home, to $25 a month, and that's in winter," says Sarah-Lee.

Francois and Sarah-Lee have created an enviable lifestyle for themselves. Francois is a highly talented joiner and cabinet maker, and he shapes surfboards. He is also a bee keeper; he and Sarah-Lee grow their own veges, make their own honey and wine, and Sarah-Lee is a potter and teaches piano. Not to forgot the kids who help take care of the family's bunnies and sell the babies on TradeMe or by word of mouth. They have a 'rabbit account' which pays for the food and teaches the children about economics - life school.

Behind the tiny house are two large sheds, one is Francois' workshop and one houses the washing machine, bikes, and extra winter gear. This allows the family to keep just what is necessary in the house itself. Francois has built several other tiny structures and has had a lot of interest in his own home. If you would like him to build something similar for you, please get in touch with him, he would love to hear from you. Whether it's your home, your bach, a studio or sleep out, we can absolutely vouch for his superb workmanship.

Renovation & Conversation Evening

Last week we held an evening at our workspace with our friend Laura Jeffares. Our aim was to let our guests know a bit more about our businesses, and for them to leave with a few interior styling and floristry tricks that they could try themselves at home. Dael and I work in a very cool old warehouse in Ahuriri, Napier which we share with a number of other small businesses. The building has an industrial vibe, and this combined with Laura's amazing floral arrangements made for a great venue.

A gorgeous big floral display greeted guests outside our building | photo: Florence Charvin

The lady herself, Laura Jeffares, next to one of her arrangements | photo: Florence Charvin

The entrance to our work is through an old shipping container which we lined with greenery. Inside guests were welcomed by the dulcet tones of super talented local musician, Sarah Wiig.

One of our favourite artists, Rae West, arriving through our shipping container entrance | photo: Florence Charvin

Sarah Wiig sings as our guests arrive | photo: Florence Charvin

Another of Laura's creations in a Bibby + Brady vase | photo: Florence Charvin

Even Sarah's mike and music stand didn't escape Laura's touch | photo: Florence Charvin

Upon arrival guests were treated to a glass of delicious Rod McDonald wine, and there was a spectacular 1m long grazing platter that was created by The Mad Platter - a relatively new local business that is growing in leaps and bounds.

Beautiful bouquets by Sarah Till of My Flower Cart were available to purchase | photo: Florence Charvin

The incredible platter provided by The Mad Platter | photo: Florence Charvin

Sister-n-laws, Kylie and Birgitte, are The Mad Platter | photo: Florence Charvin

One of the best parts of our job is being surrounded by so many clever and interesting people. We had an incredible group of women at our event, both helpers and participants, as well as our guests.

Our fabulous friends and helpers, Kathryn (Savve) and Sally | photo: Florence Charvin

Birgitte explains more about her and Kylie's business The Mad Platter | photo: Florence Charvin

Dael and I have worked with Laura Jeffares a lot over the years. She is highly talented when it comes to floristry, styling, and hair, specialising in weddings and events. If you're interested, book her now, as she gets super busy over the Summer months.

Laura demonstrates a simple floral display using flowers from My Flower Cart | photo: Florence Charvin

photo: Florence Charvin

Laura demonstrates how to use oasis when putting together an arrangement of foliage | photo: Florence Charvin

Dael and I wanted to explain a bit about how we work and show some "before" and "after" images of our work. We shared some of our top interior design tips, and finished with a quick demonstration and explanation of how to style a console table.

photo: Florence Charvin

Thank you to everyone who attended our Renovation & Conversation evening, we had a fantastic time with you all. We will be holding more of these events in the future (including one next month in Gisborne), so keep an eye on the blog and our social media for up to date information. Please let us know if you have anything in particular you'd like to hear us speak about, or if you're outside of Hawke's Bay and would like us to visit your town. You can get in touch with us here.

A special thanks to all of our amazing friends who helped make this evening a success - Laura Jeffares, Florence Charvin, The Mad Platter, Rod McDonald Wines, Sarah Wiig, Sarah Zonneveld, Sarah Till, Kathryn McGarvey, Sally Barnett, and our awesome landlords, Band.

Home Tour | NZ House & Garden

My home recently featured in the August issue of NZ House & Garden, and I thought I would share some of the fantastic photographs taken by Jane Ussher. Our home is a constant work in progress and never quite finished. The perks (and sometimes the curse, if you ask my husband) of being an interior designer is that there's always a new furniture piece or fabric that you fall in love with. I also just like to experiment and change things continuously.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

If you follow us on Facebook you probably know how much we love built in dining bench seating. I commissioned Sunshine Joinery to build our one to mirror the window seat in our living room, with lift up lids for additional storage (you can never have enough). The squabs were made by the amazing Anna from Cushions Unlimited, topped with our own Bibby + Brady custom made throw cushions. Our American Oak dining table was beautifully built by Francois of Le Workshop.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

We designed the kitchen and Sunshine Joinery created it for us. My husband wanted a white kitchen, so I made sure it had lots of texture for interest's sake - beautiful tiles and panelled cabinetry.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

The twins were reluctant models, unlike Minnie that cat who followed the photographer around all day trying to get in every shot.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

The living areas in the house are all open plan so you can sit in the end living room and see right down to the kitchen. We recently painted this room dark blue (Resene Celestial Blue) to define it from the other areas and it's become my favourite space to be in. The middle living room has large bi-fold doors out onto our deck which fill the house with light.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

This is another favourite corner where I can curl up next to the open bi-folds with a glass of wine and a magazine. The chair is from our supplier Soren Liv (all of their furniture is available to purchase through Bibby + Brady), and the antique side table and vintage lithograph both belonged to my parents.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

The end living room overlooks the Botanical Gardens. The hanging pod chair is a popular reading spot, and the most comfortable chair you're ever likely to sit in! These are also available to purchase from Bibby + Brady.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

My desk is a happy place where I'm surrounded by favourite prints. A lot of our decor has a nature theme - water, birds and botanicals. This was never a conscious thing, but when you collect things you love you'll often see a pattern emerging.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

My grandmother's bridge table sits below a painting of my parents' next to the front door. My mother-n-law is always bringing us fresh floral arrangements, so this vignette is very close to my heart. We love mixing old and new pieces in a home to create interest and a sense of history.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

A few years ago I imported some bone inlay furniture from India. I couldn't find any in New Zealand at the time so took it upon myself to bring some in. I sold a lot of it but managed to keep a few piece for myself. Along with the antique gold mirror this definitely defines my side of the room, but you can see the reflection of my husband's surf print which is part of his side :)

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

The print above our bed is by Australian artist, Andrew O'Brien. Our headboard was made by Little and Fox, but I've decided it's time to recover it. The soft grey velvet is lovely, but with so many amazing fabrics available to us in our job, it's hard not to be tempted by something new.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

With our kids growing up so fast, we're in the early stages of adding an extension onto our house. It includes a new master bedroom with walk-in wardrobe and ensuite, allowing our three girls to each have their own room. The kids' bedrooms will all be having a re-design at the same time, and they're looking forward to having input into the design of their own room.

Photo: Jane Ussher | courtesy of NZ House & Garden

Make sure you pick up the October issue of NZ House & Garden as it features the gorgeous home of one of our client's - keep your eye out for the pink Smeg fridge.