EXCLUSIVE: Lisa Chappell: ‘I live in a tiny slice of paradise’

No clutter here! Life is now all about minimalism for the McLeod’s Daughters star.
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“More trees, less people!” This has been Lisa Chappell’s mantra for the past few years – and when New Idea pays a visit to her home in Puhoi, Auckland, it’s clear she lives and breathes by it.

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Like so many, the McLeod’s Daughters star decided to chase her dreams when the pandemic struck two years ago. While these aspirations were big, the results were small.

“I’m living in a tiny house!” Lisa proclaims, revealing that, after years of coveting a simple space, she finally made it her reality.

“I’m a minimalist, and the simple life really makes me quite happy. The complexity of too many things throws me off,” she says, noting her space is just over 30 feet wide.

“There you go, it’s 33 feet … well in my size 10, 41 European feet,” she laughs, after walking across her home to measure it for us.

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After starring as Claire in McLeod’s Daughters, Lisa is honoured by the fanfare that still exists. (Credit: Michelle Hyslop)

Given Lisa’s 35-year-long acting career in Australia and New Zealand and life in the spotlight, some might find her desire for a pared-back life surprising.

However, she explains that she found great comfort in building a life that serves her wants and needs.

“The last space I was living in, I was quite surrounded … there were bands, skate parks – it wasn’t for people living, I was too close to noisy bars,” she laughs.

“I’m noise sensitive. I just thought to myself, ‘I’m not enjoying this – maybe I’ll take a year-long sabbatical and take an artists’ retreat in nature and do some writing,’ but then this tiny house idea came up, so I did it!”

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With beautiful views, plenty of animals and places to relax, Lisa’s life is full of bliss. (Credit: Michelle Hyslop)

While global lockdowns made many people interiors obsessed and the pursuit for the perfect home office space felt like a race, Lisa went the other way and cut everything back, albeit with some initial apprehension.

When Lisa’s tiny but perfect home came up on the market, she reveals she hesitated because she had only just purchased her dream furniture items that were too large.

“I had the most beautiful lounge, a gorgeous coffee table and my dream Southern- American-style sideboard … but then I thought, ‘Do I really want my life dictated by a sideboard?’”

Thankfully it was this realisation that put her on track to her new life in her “serene and meditative paradise”.

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What her tiny new home lacks in space, it makes up in charm and serenity. (Credit: Michelle Hyslop)

A part of taking up a smaller residence has meant Lisa is no longer able to collect, store or keep excess belongings. This has made for some very brutal culling.

“I have a charity bag constantly on the run,” she says, revealing she has had to donate an excess of things and has only taken into her home exactly what she needs.

“I have not missed a single thing after taking a few key pieces out of storage for my house. I had many clothes, throws … and now I have just what I need and use regularly.”

While her home life is leisurely, Lisa’s professional life is still very much on the go thanks to a recurring role in New Zealand soap, Shortland Street, and an upcoming new TV project. 

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‘I’m a minimalist – the simple life really makes me happy.’ (Credit: Michelle Hyslop)

As for her beloved character Claire McLeod, who was sensationally killed off in the show’s third season, Lisa admits she’s so humbled by the fact fans still adore the Aussie soap all these years later.

A McLeod’s film is in the works, but Lisa says it’s unlikely she will be involved.

“It’s up to the creativity of Posie Graeme-Evans [McLeod’s creator] to work that out,” she says. “You can’t unpick the character… I never want to ruin Claire’s legacy,” she clarifies.

Interestingly, Lisa says fans shouldn’t rule out the prospect of seeing Claire in some form or another.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed seeing dead characters pop up in shows, [like] Six Feet Under … Who knows,” she teases. Indeed, the pressure is now on Posie.

Read more in this week’s New Idea, on sale now. 

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