When building a small home, it often affords us the ability to put style, flair, and character into a house that would otherwise be really difficult to do when building a larger structure. Today I am in Christchurch to visit Anneliese a young furniture-maker, who’s turned her hands towards building her very own, very special Tiny House on wheels. Hey Anneliese! Hi, Welcome! What an absolutely gorgeous house you´ve built here. Thanks! So first of all, can you tell me a little bit about where we are right now? Because this place is a bit special, isn´t it? Well it´s my friend’s property. The neighbourhood is a typical suburban neighbourhood but the property itself used to be a church and it was deconsecrated before the earthquakes and then afterwards, it was on the market and my friend saw it and it was fixation. He’s very creative so he saw a lot of potential. And my house is now in what used to be the carpark. I lucked out knowing the right people. Absolutely. Now the style of this house is really gorgeous. Can you tell me a little about what its constructed from? So, the weatherboards are larch. Which I chose because they don’t actually need to be painted. And I figured, being a tiny house, its always going to look a little bit like a cottage. So I might as well just embrace it and make it look like a little hut in the woods. So, why did you make the decision to actually build a tiny house? I was staying with some good friends of mine, and then they, uh, got pregnant. And I was trying to figure out what to do next. Was ready to have some space of my own. But, uh, couldn’t afford a traditional house. And originally I was thinking about maybe a cabin, or something like that. But basically my dad talked me into it. Cause he thought it would be a good challenge. Really? ‘Cause normally family members are trying to talk people out of building tiny homes. Yeah, no he’s a bit different. He was really encouraging and came and helped get it all off the ground and make it all weather tight. And he was right in saying that this way you get to have something that’s actually built to be lived in rather than a cabin which is temporary and is never going to quite work how you want it to. Now, you say your dad helped a bit. But you actually built this house yourself, didn’t you? Yeah, yep. So I work as a furniture maker, so I sort of thought I should have some of the skills. Um, it was a bit bigger challenge than I thought it might be. But, um, yeah. It was basically me. Dad helped, as I said, get it all watertight. And I had friends kind of come and help, which was amazing. It made such a big difference. But there’s a lot of nights sort of just sanding away, in the dark by myself. It was definitely a bigger challenge than I thought. Just mostly because of the sheer number of decisions that needed to be made. Even before you had walls you had to decide exactly where your light sockets and your sinks are going and I kind of had no idea. But, it was a huge sort of learning experience. And really, really rewarding to be able to make things how I wanted them. So, it was a good challenge. Well, from the outside this place is so cute. I can’t wait to see what you’ve done inside. Sure, come in. This space is adorable!
Thanks! What a beautiful home. The style of this place is absolutely striking. You walk in and it just, it really has that little cottage in the woods feel to it, doesn’t it? That’s what I was hoping for. So, post earthquake in Christchurch, there’s actually been a lot of demolition. Have you used many earthquake demolished home resources in this house? Yeah, lots. I work as a furniture maker, and primarily out of reclaimed materials. Just because I feel like they’re so beautiful, they’ve got such a history to tell. And so almost everything in this house has come from earthquake damaged homes. The kitchen bench in fact was actually part of this really cool project called “Whole House Reuse”. Where we pulled apart and very carefully catalogued an entire house. One whole house. Everything down to the socks in the back of the wardrobe. And then, opened it up to the public and said ‘what can you make?’ and I was lucky enough to be part of that. And the kitchen bench was all materials from that house and was exhibited in Canterbury Museum. So, uh, bit of history here. And I love that when you do use those kind of reclaimed materials, you can build those new stories into your home and it sort of comes with pre-packaged history, doesn’t it? Yeah, I think, uh, I really like houses that have character and when I was building it I was trying to figure out how to make it have character without being too crazy. But what I realized, is its very hard to have too much character So, I kind of just went for it with the reclaimed materials and I think it really adds a whole other level. So right now we’re standing in your lounge area? Yep, exactly. So this is all storage underneath. And this actually pulls out to be a spare bed for guests. Works really well. And then, other than that, another storage loft, bookshelves, and that desk comes out and is a table as well. So a few, sort of, multi-purpose things. Yeah, I tried to keep it pretty simple though. Now, it’s hard not to walk in and notice that gorgeous fireplace there. So I actually got that just off TradeMe. It was in a house truck and the front was painted black. But I could see underneath there was a really cute 60’s enamel. So I stripped it back and it’s amazing. It even has a little oven in it. I love to bake, so for me it was the best way to have something to keep me warm, but also something to do a bit of baking in. and get a cook on it too. These stairs here are really cute. It’s funny actually, I spent a really long time trying to figure out how I was gonna do the stairs. And originally I had them self supported with a diagonal post underneath them. The idea being I could do whatever I wanted underneath. And then I realized it was incredibly impractical. To build diagonal cupboards. So I actually rebuilt them a wee bit after I had sort of finished my house. And they’re a lot more useable now. So, tip for anyone else thinking about building. That was one of the decisions that I sweated over the most and I got it wrong. But, managed to fix it, so. They do the trick. And are these cupboards or drawers? So, mixture of cupboards and drawers. And the little ones just open out. And then just your normal drawers. And a wardrobe for everything that needs to hang. And there’s actually, at the moment, still extra storage. I don’t even have things in two of the drawers. Perfect. Works pretty well, yep, it can fit a lot. Really cute blackboard as well. That was actually a housewarming gift from my neighbor who’s 11, Willow, I really love it. Sort of is, so nice to have so many neighbors be really supportive. And really welcoming. So its, uh, one of my favorite things in here. And the kitchen space. I love to cook and I love to bake, so it was pretty important to me to have a nice kitchen. Not huge but it definitely is enough. Nice long bench and breakfast bar. Normal sort of 4 burner stove so that I can do lots of complicated dinners. And then just a sliding pantry as well. Cause it’s just so much easier when you can actually see everything, get to everything. Keeps it all accessible. So, that’s the trick. And I think the way that you have actually featured all of these reclaimed timbers in this kitchen, is just fantastic. It really is that perfect blend of keeping things functional, keeping them looking really clean and tidy, but still, everything has that really gorgeous, rustic kind of vibe to it, doesn’t it? I really liked it, I think, um, with so many sort of new conventional houses they’re just white boxes. And to me they feel really anonymous. Could be anybody’s house. Whereas, I feel like this house really sort of tells you really quickly who I am, what I care about, the kind of things I’m interested in. Just by how its built and what its made from. So, that was something that I really sort of strove to try and do. Make it actually sort of my house as opposed to a house. I love the kitchen sink, it is so unusual. That was an old jam preserving pan. Which I found at a vintage store. With a bit of copper piping for the faucet and some old taps from my favorite junkyard. So, I really like it. It’s a really neat spice rack you’ve got there as well. That’s actually, it was my great grandfather’s, from the Netherlands. And I had no idea what it was, but my father pulled it out while I was building this. And, uh, suggested it might be quite a helpful spice rack and it actually used to be a brick mold. But turns out to be the perfect size for spices as well. Perfect. And again, so great that you can actually pull in a little bit of that family history into the home. Yep, well in fact my father thought he’d given it away but my stepmom remembered that it was in the back of the shed somewhere. So, it’s kind of nice to have that story to go with it. Absolutely. And, what about the bathroom? In theory, it’s simple. But I tried to keep it totally useable as well. So it has a completely conventional 900 by 900 shower. It’s got a dome on top just to keep that condensation in just in case. And then composting toilet and a sink. Everything you need really. And again, you’ve just built so much wonderful character into the bathroom, haven’t you? I think so much of it is just the materials themselves, you know, everything there has had a life before and you can see that and they kind of speak for themselves. And the sleeping loft is upstairs? Yep, yep. Can we have a look? Go for it. This loft is absolutely adorable. It was another really good suggestion from my dad to have a dormer window, which makes a big difference I think. Just to open up the space. It does, it makes it feel a lot more spacious. But I love the way that you’ve done it as well because it kind of keeps the character and the coziness of the gable roof but just opens it up enough to get a little bit of additional room in here, eh? Yeah, and actually having the windows on opposite sides means that you can get air flow in summer as well. So, on a summer night in Canterbury it can be 20 degrees. And that gives you at least some chance to not overheat. And I see that up here as well, you’ve also been able to build in some really nice storage features. Yeah, somewhere to put your linen. Little, you know, bookcase down here, because books. And then some basics like a clock is always pretty helpful. And I’ve just noticed this little contraption here. What is that for? So that’s a drying rack. So in winter in Christchurch it is pretty cold and sometimes pretty wet. But I just put my clothes on there, pull it up, and overnight they dry from the fire. What about power here in the house? So I have a solar system. I have two panels of 260 volt each. Everything is run 240 volt and that is all run through a charge controller as well. But there’s a backup 240 volt connection if need be. Are you on gas and water hookups as well? Yeah, so I’m hooked up to the main’s water. But the grey water actually drains into a wicking garden bed. So there’s no sort of concern about it going back into the water streams. And then gas is for the cooking and for hot water. Works really well. Is really easy. So, what was it that actually made you want to build a tiny house? The challenge to sort of make something myself and make something that was going to work for my life. Just that sense of accomplishment, of actually having built a home. It seems like such a fundamental human thing to provide shelter for yourself. But quite rare in this day and age to actually do that. How long have you actually been here now? I’ve been living in it for about 9 months now. Although I did sleep in it while it was being built from time to time, too. We kind of live in this generation now where everyone’s used to specializing. And the idea of actually learning new skills to build your own home is a really daunting idea for a lot of people. What would you say to somebody that thinks that they just don’t have the ability to build their own home? I think you really need to remember it’s just a series of steps and so if you can do the first bit then you can do the second bit And carry on from there it’s not as daunting as you think it is. I did a lot of youtube-ing and a lot of instructables to be able to make this house. But just try making a few basic things and you soon realize that it’s not as hard as you think it is. It’s just a matter of trying and figuring out how to do things. And so can I ask what it actually cost to build this space? So it ended up being around about 26,000, which was basically what I could afford. And I didn’t pay anything for labor apart from getting the gas fitter, so that helped keep the cost down. And then people being very kind with their pricing of materials helped a lot as well. And just being as resourceful as I could be. This is a truly incredible result for 26,000 dollars. I think, um, again, it’s just the reclaimed materials make a big difference. And really thinking about everything to try to make the most out of what you have so that you’re not wasting stuff as your building. Makes a big difference. It is so nice to have a place to call home and it’s just such an inviting and sort of warm place to be able to spend my days. Can’t imagine not living here now. Well, Anneliese I have to say this is one of the coziest and most character filled tiny houses I’ve ever had the privilege of visiting. Thank you so much for taking the time and showing me around. No worries, thank you. Immediately, upon walking into this home I was blown away by just how welcoming it is. Anneliese’s skill as a furniture maker is evident in all of the fittings that she’s put into this home. But more than that it’s also all of the character that’s brought out through the recycled timber. It seems like everything in here has just a little piece of history with it. I think she has done a truly wonderful job with this home. It’s hands down one of the coziest spaces I’ve ever visited.