Living the simple life in a Waiheke tiny house gallery

Briar Hale wanted natural materials and a New Zealand vibe.
JANE USSHER

Briar Hale wanted natural materials and a New Zealand vibe.

Briar Hale pared down her possessions before moving into her tiny house on Waiheke. "I love the simplicity of owning just enough and not having to sort through clutter to find things. Streamlining makes life simpler," she says.

When I was looking to buy a house in Auckland:

I was quite uninspired by what I could buy and the fact that I'd need a half-million-dollar mortgage. It felt scary, as if I was being drawn into the slipstream of "what people do". Then I was introduced to Jeff Hobbs from Room to Move in Mangawhai who builds tiny houses. He was a furniture-maker and boat-builder – he's a master craftsman. 

Briar's home is fitted out with exactly what she needs.
JANE USSHER

Briar's home is fitted out with exactly what she needs.

I knew what I wanted in terms of design:

I wanted all natural materials, an earthy New Zealand vibe, board and batten exterior, a potbelly stove, really good storage, a sofa that would fold out into a queen bed for visitors. Jeff took my ideas and made them reality. He even sourced sustainable ply and floorboards from a demolition villa in Devonport. 

I don't feel hemmed in:

I have a 4m high stud, so it feels quite airy. I have big windows, large French doors and a covered deck with a dining table. Waiheke's quite mild, so my outdoor area is usable year-round. I've had a party for 30 here. 

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The bedroom is above the tiny kitchen.
JANE USSHER

The bedroom is above the tiny kitchen.

I have some little luxuries:

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My book collection, record player and Japanese incense.

I have to be mindful of what I buy: 

Shop for your home
Vintage cushion cover in green
Vintage cushion cover in green
$145

I have to think about where it will fit and whether it works with the aesthetic of the place. I like natural things, so I don't have a lot of plasticky stuff. I used to love going to Pak'nSave and buying in bulk but I've only got a small pantry so I've changed the way I shop. 

The whole thing cost:  

About $120,000. I spent about $6000 on solar power and solar-heated water so that I can be off the grid. That seemed a lot at the time, but that's another way I've simplified my life – not having power bills!

This little home is solar-powered and off the grid.
JANE USSHER/HOMED

This little home is solar-powered and off the grid.

When I come home:

I feel so deeply relaxed and contented… partly because it's mine and it's an expression of me. I thought this would come a lot later in life, but because I've scaled down I'm able to have it now. 

 - NZ House & Garden

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