Tiny homes, but not as you know them: architecture for the imagination

Four years ago Elizabeth Woollard’s trip to France and Italy inspired her with visions of old architecture, flaking paint, interesting doors and vibrant colours. From this fertile ground her creative outlet Tiny House was born. Why houses? Elizabeth says we often find ourselves pondering “I wonder who lives there, I wonder what they do?” She sees her tiny creations, made from recycled New Zealand timber, as big builders of the imagination.


 

 
How did you get into your craft?
A trip a few years ago to the coast of France and Italy promoted most of my inspiration for the architecture and colour styles… also the distressing paint technique. I just loved all the old buildings, flakey paint and character of France. Although, I have always been crafty and into DIY making – whatever prompted me to do so at the time! I originally did a diploma in fashion technology, followed by a bachelor of science (nursing) so I dibble and dabble in lots of different things!

“I work best in a mess. It’s a creative mess, I know where most things are and when it gets too bad we have a clean up!”

Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No. Although my partner who does the cutting has, in building and carpentry.

Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
A good sander! And Dulux paint. My son says “She paints it white and sands it off!” I loved distressed features, that would be my signature style.


 

 
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces
Firstly, I sketch a design and form a palette range. We will then discuss sizes and dimensions and then in a flash (or maybe about an hour) a tiny house has taken form in wood! (After carefully selecting the best wood to use for the design.)

After it’s been cut the first layer of paint goes on… then usually a second… before drying for a day or two. Then sanding will take place, followed by sometimes more paint and another sand. However if I was happy with the first coat then the windows will be drawn on.

There are no rulers, no straight lines and my vision is impaired so my houses have a sense of quirkyness to them… but it’s the character that I love to create, so that suits me just fine.

What inspires you?
People. Mostly my family and kids although I am inspired by people’s kindness and passions for doing something good.

Is there a philosophy behind your work?
To create new out of old… to see the old in the new and to prompt thought behind something.

Describe your creative process:
Think first, sketch my ideas… usually my creations start with a colour process first and then I think “What can I make out of these colours?”

Describe your workspace:
It’s a shambles! My space intrudes all over the house, garage and my work shed. But I work best in a mess. It’s a creative mess, I know where most things are and when it gets too bad we have a clean up!


 

 
Words that describe your mind:
Overthinker, loving, concerned, fiercely defensive, messy, crowded!

Your favourite feedback from a customer:
“I just love love love my tiny house, thank you for creating it for me… it’s just what I was thinking I wanted!”

“I get excited to produce a piece for someone and a little nervous to find out whether they like it (or not) but fortunately haven’t had a “not” yet!”

What are you currently listening to?
Baby Einstein, baby shark or the Wonky Donkey!

Recommend an album:
The Cure’s Greatest Hits. It’s always a pleaser.

What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Guess how much I love you…By Sam Mcbratney. I love reading it to my baby now, and my then-baby who’s fifteen years old. Reminds me of my mum who always said, you just won’t know what love is until you have your own babies… she was right.


 

 
What are you reading now?
Children’s books. That’s it! No time for anything else.

Who is your hero/heroine? Why?
My mum. She has four girls and thought us to be stronger than any superhero… and to love immensely.

A favourite quote:
“But what if I fall? But darling what if you fly?” – Erin Hanson.

Tell us about your pets:
Two super big dopey dogs, rescued from the local animal shelter. Wilson is eight years old and Odie is about five years old.

What would your advice be for those starting out in a crafty business?
That’s me, so I can’t really give advice except do what makes you happy – that’s what’s most important.


 

 

 
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
It’s important to support our economy by buying locally. Small New Zealand businesses are the ones who support the economy the most, hence the importance to drive this.

What does it mean to you when someone buys your creations?
I’m honoured. It feels personal… and I get excited to produce a piece for someone and a little nervous to find out whether they like it (or not) but fortunately haven’t had a “not” yet!

What was the last handmade item you bought and what attracted you to it?
I bought a beautiful woollen cardigan for my baby daughter. I bought it for its quality, locally made, supporting handmade, and a Felt seller too! It was also a really good price for such a time consuming piece.

What’s in store for the rest of 2020?
Hopefully no more Covid-19! But lots more from me… I am aiming to bring out a new piece every 2-3 weeks. I’ll also have a wee one year old by September so that in itself is my heroism for the year!

Prize draw for Felt readers!

Elizabeth has very kindly offered a great prize for one lucky Felt reader, of a $50 voucher for her Tiny House shop – awesome stuff! To be in to win this sweet key to your own tiny house leave us a comment below telling us what you like about Elizabeth’s story and her creations.

The draw closes at 5pm Monday 22 June and is open to New Zealand residents only.

38 thoughts on “Tiny homes, but not as you know them: architecture for the imagination

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! It’s such a privilege to make things that people put in their homes and workplaces… it brings me a strong sense of belonging. All the best with the draw.

    1. Thank you Abby!
      Mess describes me to a tea! But I know where everything is and what’s on my
      To do list. We have fun sourcing our wood from scrap yards, demolished houses etc… for me it gives every piece an identity. Take care

  1. Well done Lizzie! Loved reading all about how you got started. You have a huge talent (as well as being a great nurse)! So nice to find something that you love doing that fits in to family life too. x

    1. Thank you Libby… What beautiful words – and I appreciate every single one. Whilst I love being a nurse and leading a magnificent team of people, I also love being a mum…. I just need to work out how to do both successfully. And to squeeze in a little business where I can express myself creatively… well that’s just a dream
      Come true!
      And by the way… you are a super inspiring leader and have courageously Gained such commanding qualifications whilst bringing up your babes

  2. I love that there really is NOTHING like these tiny houses. I love the “rusticness” (is that even a WORD???) of them .. and the fact that no 2 are EVER the same. I have admired these from afar for the last several weeks (I stumbled across these Tiny Houses on Facebook during Lockdown).
    I also love that many of us can relate to the mess of trying to make something whilst the chaos of life is going on around us.
    I will be dropping hints before my Birthday to my 3 adult children ❤

    1. Wow, what an amazing comment! Thank you Shah… actually bought a tear to my eye. If I can squeeze a little bit of happiness out of someone else when they see my tiny houses then it’s a job well done!
      ❤️

  3. Your tiny houses are just gorgeous. Colour brings me joy and the colours of your tiny houses are lovely. I also really enjoyed reading about the talented young woman who creates these little works of art. All the best for the future.

    1. Lizzie (what a lovely name) thank you for your feedback and I’m truely honoured to hear they bring you a little bit of joy… I hope you know how much that warms my heart!

    1. Hi Kelly! I’m so happy to hear your building your boys a fairy and Dino garden. That’s an awesome idea… if I can help
      In anyway with some custom fairy houses… (and soon to be released mini castles 🏰) please let me know.
      Thanks so much

    1. Thank you Nicola.
      It funny… when I’m choosing a colour or blending one… I know when it’s just right… I weirdly suddenly feel happy! “Oh I got it” kinda goes through me… you should have seen me making the first few caravans… I think I was skipping between the sander and the paint bench seeing them come together. Take care

  4. They are gorgeous. I get an instant response to each one – feeling like Im at the beach on a summers day or wandering a quant village with nothing particular to do. Happy creating. They are marvellous.

    1. Hi Tracey… wow, that’s the feeling I get. Am am honoured to hear they they trigger this for you too! So heartwarming to hear and I really So excited and inspired by these comments! Wowzers I’m so lucky
      Thanks so much

    1. Thank you Jill
      I love my colours too. I do have to tel myself, other people like other things… but I can’t bring myself to painting a colour I don’t like or feel no response too! 🥴 thanks for your feedback, all the best for the prize draw too

    1. Awe Shucks Nat…
      Well to be honest let’s rewind about 9 years and let me thank you for helping to dig out my creative side. Your such an inspiring woman let me tell you. So clever, you can make anything out of nothing. Love you too girl

  5. I love that you are so gorgeously creative all while juggling motherhood. It’s Such a tricky thing to find your own time and space to create. Congrats on such lovely pieces!

    1. Thank you Olivia
      Motherhood is unexplainable… so rich in love and adoration, but so demanding on our whole being… it’s a juggling act… so far I’m juggling ok… have a gorgeous (mostly) well behaved teen and a thriving 9month old. I see myself as lucky to have these gorgeous children and to be their Mum… I don’t have a lot of time to create… but I certainly enjoy every minute of it! Especially sourcing all the wood, bolts, screws etc… that part is super fun!

  6. What I love about these creations (apart from the yummy colours) is the tiny windows, I imagine who might live inside those wee houses when I peer through the windows!

    1. It’s funny you say that Julie…as my favourite part is when the windows go on… suddenly they are more than just some wood and paint… they are something! And that makes us wonder… thank you so much for your feedback ❤️

  7. I just loved reading about these Tiny Houses. They are beautifully crafted and would be equally at home displayed on a shelf or down on the floor with the matchbox cars and lego. They invite adult and child alike to imagine. Love them ❤️

    1. Thank you Catriona for your lovely feedback… my daughter and my nephew both have some stations and they love them…
      good luck for my draw, who knows you might have one on your shelf soon too!

  8. I bought the beach hut tiny houses and they are just gorgeous, bring me lots of joy. So lovely to be able to read about the love that goes into making them x

  9. I’m obsessed with houses too, especially all the coloured ones in Europe particularly Portugal where we visited at the beginning of the year. Elizabeth I love how realistic your houses are, they truely look like well loved homes!

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