Remodelista Greatest Hits 2020: George and Willy’s DIY Urban Cabin (Created from a Tiny 1991 Suburban House)

This week we’re revisiting some of the most popular DIY stories from our archives. Read on for end-of-summer project inspiration:

Remodelista regulars no doubt have admired the work of George & Willy. They’re the charming, young New Zealander duo who made their design debut with the Studio Roller, a hanging roll of kraft paper for keeping To Do lists and making sketches. Since then, George Wilkins and Will McCallum have gone on to offer a suspended clothes drying rack, a fire starter inspired by Alaskan whalers, and a collection of signs including a Scrabble-like letter board.

Their creations are all about modern utility paired with a delightful Down Under playfulness. They sum up their M.O. as “making your space exciting”—which led us to be curious about their own quarters. For the last 18 months, we’ve been told they’d soon be ready to unveil the first George & Willy remodel: the two have been working with friends on a house for George and his wife, Hannah. Built in 1991, the structure—”tiny, nondescript, and uninspired,” says George—was priced right and had potential: to them it was begging to be transformed into an urban cabin. That required these first-timers to panel just about every surface inside and out. Come see.

Photography courtesy of George & Willy.

george and will spotted the house while driving near their studio in the coasta 14
Above: George and Will spotted the house while driving near their studio in the coastal town of Mount Maunganui, on New Zealand’s North Island. (Scroll to the end for Before and In Progress photos.) The two met at boarding school and launched their business out of the wood shop at their university. They’re both self-taught designers and learned how to build working alongside their grandfathers.

They say the overall layout of the house “was actually not bad and didn’t require too much changing,” but the plasterboard exterior and landscaping called for a total overhaul. In addition to cladding the structure in macrocarpa, an evergreen that’s a less-pricey alternative to cedar, they built a picket fence (to keep in George and Hannah’s dog, Frida) and a wooden walkway that, George says, “gives the feeling of being on a bushwalk every time you enter the house.”