How A Tiny Home Made A Huge Difference For This Foster Family

Sometimes the big problems in the world can seem overwhelming, and it can feel impossible to know how to begin to help. For Nat Wheeler and Kirsty Sadlier of Norsu Interiors, a tiny home offered an opportunity to make a huge impact on one family’s life.

Project 7 is a design response to assist a Melbourne family, who through fostering, grew overnight from five to seven members. We chat with Nat about finding creative solutions to any problem, and the power of collaboration.

Miriam McGarry

Nat Norsu + Norsu interior designer Lauren Bartlett-Bragg in front of the tiny home from Soulspace Studios.  Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Getting the tiny home into the backyard! Photo – Kate Collingwood.

The Soulspace Studios tiny home was designed for the family’s 18-year-old son, as well as a retreat for the whole family. Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Despite being known as the ‘pink girls’, Norsu have managed to pull off an edgier feel! Photo – Kate Collingwood.

A study area in the tiny home. Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Very chic storage solutions. Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Dark tones in the tiny home. Photo – Kate Collingwood.

The tiny home also offers a second bathroom to the family, who were previously all sharing one in the main home. Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Bathroom details. Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Project 7 also involved a total rehaul of the family’s kitchen (honestly the transformation is amazing – check out some of the before pics here!) Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Norsu getting their signature pink in there! Photo – Kate Collingwood.

The newly-renovated dining area. Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Nat Norsu and the fabulous homeowner/foster mum Jess in the new kitchen. What legends! Photo – Kate Collingwood.

Miriam McGarry
26th of November 2019

Nat Wheeler, co-founder of Norsu Interiors, explains that like all good projects, the idea for this renovation emerged ‘over a drink.’ Nat was chatting with homeowner Jess (who provides day-care for Nat’s son) about Jess and husband Andrew’s soon-to-increase family. The parents had three children, and after years of having many temporary foster children welcomed into their family, were about to have two children permanently become part of their clan. There was no limit to the love on offer… but there was a real pinch when it came to physical space in the home. Overnight, the family grew from five to seven, with only one bathroom, all the kids in one shared room, and a poorly laid-out kitchen (take a look at some of the ‘before’ photos here and here to get an idea of the challenges presented!).

Nat and co-founder of Norsu Kirsty Sadlier knew they had to do something to help, but also understood that a full renovation wasn’t a feasible option for the family. Instead, the duo put their thinking caps on, and brewed up a creative response. Following Nat’s motto that there is ‘always a way to find a solution’, Norsu reached out to Soulspace Studios (having met at the Tiny Home Festival) to see if they would be able to assist – who generously jumped on board by donating their building services.

Norsu’s plans were to create a new space in the backyard of the family home for Oscar (the family’s 18-year-old son) to live in. While it is designed for Oscar, it also serves as a get-away for all members of the family to nip into, and offers a second bathroom for all of the kids to use. Nat highlights that Norsu are often known as ‘the pink girls’, so this interior design for a teenage boy was a chance to create a space for a new kind of client. Norsu created a mood board before the process started, that Oscar (and his parents!) were thrilled with.

With the help of designer Lauren Bartlett-Bragg from the NorsuHOME styling team, they created an aesthetic Nat describes as ‘edgy, but warm and inviting’. The palette of black, dusty blue, charcoal, and mustard, with natural linen curtains and raw timber and charcoal wall panelling offers a gently masculine, but universally welcoming space.

Alongside this inventive use of the tiny home addition, Norsu also installed a brand new kitchen, with generous donations of kitchen cabinetry (Zesta Kitchens), tiles (Perini Tiles), stone benchtops (CDK Stone), flooring (Scandinavia Floors), tapware (Meir), paint (Dulux), timber (Bowens), basins (Nood Co) and panelling (Easycraft). The list of collaborators on this project is never-ending, and Nat explains ‘we’ve never experienced generosity on this level before.’ She describes how she initially pitched the project to parents Jess and Andrew, who thought she was joking. But Nat felt that Norsu’s huge and engaged Instagram following were there ‘for a reason, if you’ve got that following, you’ve got to use it for good.’

This brilliant project highlights Nat’s philosophy that with a bit of creative thought (and many, many helping hands), there ‘are always other ways’ of helping. This project was about creating physical space for a growing family, but Nat also highlights how people can get involved with Berry Street to assist in providing children with a safe home. For this family, their home is now safe, beautiful, and functional, thanks to the generosity of a whole community.

Norsu Interiors would like to thank Soulspace Studios, Zesta Kitchens, 181 Electrical, Bowens Timber, CDK Stone, Stonelux, Perini Tiles, Meir, McGann Maintenance, Dynamic S’tiling, Scandinavia Floors, Sergi Cranes, Dulux, EasyCraft , Ferraro Plumbing, Sheridan Window Furnishings, ThermoGroup Australia, Warwick Fabrics, Voltex, Light Planet, Hettich, Nood Co, Kate Collingwood Photography, Royal Timber Flooring, Lo and Co Interiors, Earth Wool Insulations, Hollow Tree Showers, Superior Glass Solutions, Ben Ecclestone Cabinets, The Home Improvement Company, Pott Australia, The Cullin Design, 3 Square, H&G Designs and Blackhaus Studios for their generous contributions to this project! 

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