Q&A with Southern interior designer Sheila Smith of Small Prophet Design Shed 2021

Welsh-born Sheila Smith co-runs Small Prophet Design Shed in the heart of the Catlins. With its own workshop, ‘The Shed’ is a beloved design mecca for artisan furniture, original art, upholstery and stylish interior objects. The Tokanui-based Shed attracts customers from all over the South Island.

How would you describe your home and style?

My husband enticed me to New Zealand by promising me a designer house with a pool, overlooking the beach. We arrived and he promptly bought a farm in the Catlins with an old villa homestead. After falling through the floorboards several times we did a complete refurb. I went with a classic country home vibe, creating light with skylight windows and French doors. I would describe it as homely and calming and perhaps a little eclectic, like me.


What inspires you about living in your region?

Living in the Catlins is truly inspirational. The scenery is stunning and the people are kind and resourceful.

What was one of the memorable items you ever bought for your home?

After my first promotion at BSkyB Television London, where I worked in the graphics department, I dashed out to Chiswick High Street one lunchtime and bought ‘Howard’, a plush, dark red chenille couch. He was called Howard in the brochure and has been in my life ever since.


What’s your favourite room in your house?

My bedroom as it is such a calming space, decorated mainly in blues and soft dove greys, with mustard side tables. It actually proves that interior choices really do affect your mood.

If you were renovating, where would you spend the bulk of your budget?

On getting the space right. For example, if someone has lowered the ceilings I’d take them back up. Get the bones right straight away as this is not something you can tackle later. If I was getting a new kitchen, I’d make sure I got the best benchtops as they make a huge impact.


If money was no object, what would you splurge on for your home?

New Zealand wool carpets: they’re natural, luxurious underfoot and fire-resistant.

You’ve got a day to refresh your house. What do you do?

I often regroup objects or ornaments so that they can ‘breathe’, and I always use feather cushions that get re-plumped and change out throws or bed linen. I move furniture around a lot if a look is getting stale. I also cut rosemary or greenery from the garden and place it in bedrooms or bathrooms – small things which are uplifting.


What should every home have?

Every home should have some soft lamp lighting; it hides a multitude of sins and makes a room seem homely or comforting. Candles work the same way on a smaller scale.

If you could have a ‘house tour’ of any home in the world, whose home would you choose?

Malator House in Pembrokeshire, Wales, which was built into the earth for the ex-Labour MP Bob Marshall-Andrews.






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