Out in a paddock in Whenuapai, there’s a house that’s bursting with Christmas cheer despite its tiny size.
The Bone family – Dad Russell, mum Sarah and daughters, Kennedy, 9, and Reanna, 12 – had to change the way they thought about decorating for Christmas when they moved into a 8m by 3m by 4.2m (high) home. Strand Woven Sunset Bamboo
This will be their second Christmas in such a small space, and Russell reckons they have not just the decorating, but also the storage of the decorations, down pat.
“We have a deck and a pergola that probably adds another 15m² to our place,” says Bone.
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"We still decorate for Christmas and the way we approach it is we've got to be creative more than anything."
They live a minimalist life, and their decorations reflect that, focusing on fairy lights around the pergola, small stockings for the girls and a Christmas tree, handmade by Dad, thanks to a pattern he found on Pinterest.
Standing just 50cm tall with a chic Nordic feel, it’s made from dowelling and several lengths of 2cm by 2cm pine with holes in the middle, the lengths of squared pine stack on top of one another in a “pine tree” shape.
When the lengths of wood are turned around the dowel, it looks like a tree with branches that decorations can be hung from. “It just folds up, and lays flat during the year. We slide it underneath our bed,” Russell says.
Tiny home builder Rebecca McLean, of Kiwi company Tiny House Builders, has clients who create a Christmas nook, rather than let the season take over the whole tiny home.
"They’ll have a small area that's defined as, 'my little Christmas decoration area' and then change a few things out like fairy lights, things that don't get in the way but still have a bit of impact.
"Christmas is good like that, because you've got tinsel that can be draped around things that are already existing, rather than bringing something in, and with those little 3M hooks you can get a LED strip right around the ceiling and not cause damage to the walls."
In a small space, you have to be mindful of keeping walkways clear, and not crowding out a room.
Storage is also crucial – big, bushy door wreaths, dotted with full sized baubles look cool, but what do you do with it when Christmas is over?
"You're only going to have it out for a month or a month and a half – do you have the space or the storage area to reuse that the following year, or [will you] sell those on or give them away?” McLean asks.
“Those are things that you don't necessarily think about in a big house, because you just pop it in the shed or the attic or garage."
When staging a home at this time of year, interior designer and homestager Roz Scott focuses on two spaces: "The front entrance, if it needs a wreath, and then we might just do a Christmas tree in the living room only”.
“We'll have candy bowls and things like that, but less is more in a small space," says Scott.
The principles of decorating a smaller space in general also apply to dressing the space for a holiday.
Keep your decorations personal and handmade – pack a lot of meaning into something small.
Scale is important when you’re dressing a home for Christmas – don’t overdo it,or it will feel cluttered and oppressive.
"When you're choosing a sofa, you've got to make sure that the measurements are very, very good," says Scott. The same goes for your Christmas tree.
"You can get small Christmas trees – we sell one that’s just in a sack. They're just perfect for people who live in apartments or small spaces.
"Some people do Christmas bunting, which can look quite cute. You could even do bunting up the wall with some fairy lights instead of a Christmas tree.”
It’s a good idea to keep the colour palette simple, especially if you have a neutral home during the rest of the year.
“Let the art and the accessories pop in each area.”
For the Bone family “less is definitely more” at Christmas.
"It's less stress when it's simple, and you don't have to store as much stuff out of season.
“For us, Christmas is not about stuff, not about materialistic-type things. Yes, we still buy gifts for each other, but it's very limited because of our small space.
“Instead, it's about our family. It's about being together and taking some time out to reflect on the past year.”
A simple, geometric Oak sculpture, like this Christmas Piere Tree from The Axe ($105) has a chic Nordic vibe, and gives a sense of the season without it taking over your whole home.
It can double as a funky sculpture during the rest of the year.
Some tinsel (4ms for $4 from Countdown), a pack of 3m decorating hooks (pack of 20 for $5.35 from Mitre 10), some fairy lights (5m copper twinkle lights) and a bit of finesse... who needs floor space to have a two-metre tree?
You can use any paper, tape, and some string to make Christmas bunting. If you’re handy, and want it to last, you can make it from fabric scraps.
Wide Bamboo Flooring Spell out the words Merry Christmas, and you’re good to go.