Three Small Spaces

The Window Shack 44

Haidee and Craig Dowling found this shed on their property when they bought it. It was largely rotten and boarded up, and there were no windows, but the beautifully planted, tropical-feel clearing was too good not to try and utilise.


The previous owners told them it had once been attached to the old schoolhouse at the top of the property. They’d towed it, with grit and determination, down the hill to sit facing the beautiful stretch of the Mahurangi river at the bottom of their huge garden.

Style-guru Haidee hatched a plan based on an online photo she’d seen of an American cabin in the woods. She began to look for old joinery; all different sizes and shapes were tracked down. Warkworth Buy and Sell facebook page, TradeMe and the Matakana School Fair were all instrumental in getting the cabin glazed. They achieved their goal for the princely sum of $300. But then they had to stitch it all together.

Unlike the inspirational cabin in the woods, many of the windows actually open, and their builder  has framed and sealed everything to within an inch of its life. It’s perfect for sleepovers for their 13-year-old twins, Coco and Texas, and parties will definitely occur. There’s no power, but as Haidee says, “We quite like it being off the grid–and it’s amazing what you can do with solar fairy lights!”


The Dream Cabin


Lucy Scott calls her small space her ‘Dream Cabin’. Lucy’s creative urges are sated in here; her personality requires stylistic mayhem at all times and although her house is a fabulous museum for her many collections, she likes a separate space to work in. “I know it’s tiny,” she says, “but it’s actually perfect. I know exactly where everything is, and it’s all within arm’s reach.”


Lucy’s addicted to everything vintage, but particularly costume jewellery. It’s rare for her to go past an op-shop. For commission work, her clients might bring her a jewellery box full of their mother’s old jewellery, or a favourite aunt’s (Lucy had a much-loved one of those) and ask for the bits and bobs to be ‘knitted’ into a single, spectacular neck, wrist or head-piece.


She rents out her work for special events, and it’s been used in TV and film, too. She gives the rental proceeds to charity; it’s very important for Lucy to give back to the community.


She’s delighting in her involvement with grandchildren lately however, and has had less time to create. But her little cabin is always there, waiting, and she’ll often head out there in the dappled light of the afternoons. “I love to open it up to the garden and work in there with the birdsong around me. But in winter it’s wonderful too–I’ll take some red wine, light my candles and put music on… I can be completely immersed out there till two in the morning!”


The Man-Cave


This blokey haven started life nearly 100 years ago as a woolshed. It’s a repository for its owner’s whopping collection of memorabilia, gathered over decades.

It was converted into a kind of informal debrief zone around eight years ago when the new house nearby was being built. At the end of each day everyone would meet up there for a beer and discuss the next day’s objectives.

That was in summer. When winter rolled around it became apparent the woolshed was both freezing and leaky. It was re-roofed, re-floored, and a stove was found… then the much-loved collection came out of storage. The owner admits, “It was just a massive collection of shit–a bit daunting really. I realised I needed help.” The whole lot ended up being sorted and styled into the ultimate male hangout by John Perry, who owned Second Hand Land in the Regent Theatre in Helensville.

All of the rare, vintage and frankly bizarre items have come from the owner’s compulsive collecting in NZ and much further afield. The sale of a huge Dargaville pioneer collection, and the closing of Houhora’s iconic Wagner Museum supplied many gratifying treasures. A metre-high recycled-steel rooster just had to be brought home on a giggly Air NZ flight from San Fransciso; a massive Millers beer bottle joined the family on a Colorado ski trip with his bemused-but-resigned sons.

“Everything’s got history in here,” says the owner. “It’s a living photo album; each thing represents a memory. It’s the story of my life.”