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5 of the best small homes featured on Homes to Love in 2018

Article by Homes to Love

Tiny house living really became a favourite on Homes to Love in 2018, we rounded up the best of a great bunch. Scroll down to see five inspiring New Zealand small homes

5 of the best small homes featured on Homes to Love in 2018


1. Small house living on a tricky site in Avondale

Digital-experience designer Jasmine Wilkinson lives here with partner Adrian Flack, a music software engineer. The site is a long, irregular triangle. Oakley Creek, a good, chortling sort of a creek edged with protected native bush, hugs the hypotenuse. It’s two minutes from the North-Western Motorway, deep in suburban Avondale, Auckland.

The stream likely scared off some buyers but Architect Tim Dorrington says the geotech didn’t dictate design too much. More limiting was resource consent – the decks are right on the boundary, with the house cuddling as close to the stream as height restriction allow. Dorrington started by drawing a rectangle. To maximise space and budget, the hallway proper was pinched down to one square metre.

Windows are floor-to-ceiling and the eaves are washing-rack wide. And that striking ceiling of Strandboard and beams continues into the soffits, where a lot of design work went into making the planes of floor and ceiling track cleanly outside: as Dorrington puts it, treating the windows as an absence of wall. This 96-square-metre home is ample for now but there are plans for stage two, a deft extension to add a third bedroom and second living area.


2. A compact Christchurch home

Set on the lower slopes of Christchurch’s Cashmere Hills overlooking Bowenvale Valley, presents a small tower of concrete block, the starkness broken by a steep monopitch roofline and a handful of irregularly placed windows of varying sizes.

The homeowner and architect Braden Harford, a partner in the five-year-old Christchurch practice Maguire and Harford, won a 2017 regional NZIA Small Project award for the house; the first that he’s designed for himself. The 85-square-metre townhouse also went on to win ‘New Zealand’s Best Small Home’. “As an architect, most people come to you saying: ‘We want this many bedrooms and as much space as possible’. I wanted to keep it more refined. And when the budget brought it down [in scope], I was reasonably happy. It meant I had to distil my ideas to find out exactly what was most important.”

For a small place, it doesn’t feel at all pinched. This is due to the outsized windows (one with a view directly north to Latimer Square, the other positioned for a valley view). His other trick was to create a double-height void above the living space, with a mezzanine for the bedroom, bathroom and spare room. The house is sparsely furnished, and, like the art, you suspect everything here has had to argue a case for inclusion.


3. Living riverside in Taupiri 

When looking to buy a home, Dan and Sam Smith decided to looked south. They found the Waikato region’s affordability was alluring, as was its comparatively minute traffic issues and its proximity to family. When Dan saw a narrow piece of land in Taupiri, facing north toward the river, his architect brain began ticking over. “This place was a quarter of the price of anywhere in Auckland – we just couldn’t afford to build without moving to a place like this.”

On the front of the section, a rundown 1960s weatherboard home sat gathering dust. The couple tidied it up, moved in and began plotting the design for a place by the river. Dan, an architect at Edwards White Architects in Hamilton, came up with a simple and wonderfully Kiwi brief. He wanted to create something that sang out from the land, but didn’t dominate; he wanted the home to feel like a bach by the river; he didn’t want their relatively modest budget (just over $3000 per square metre, not including their own labour) to deprive him of making something beautiful.

A 100-square-metre footprint, the house feels generous in size and it’s evident on many levels that the spirit of the bach has translated to the Taupiri home. There’s a consistent aesthetic throughout, with a few general rules: anything steel or aluminium is black; generic, affordable material is painted white; and natural wood is left exposed.


4. A colourful city apartment

When renovating a 160-square-metre apartment for a family of six, Kristian Lillelund had to come up with a number of clever design and storage solutions. Luckily, he owns a company which specialises in interior design, kitchen fitouts and handmade furniture. His partner, Mariah Malewicz, is a chef and food consultant who also has an eye for design.

With the exception of a single Eames chair, all the living room furniture was made by Kristian. The built-in bookshelves and sofa are the designer’s favourite features of the apartment and it’s easy to see why. Not only do they look amazing, but the sofa is incredibly space-saving and the bookshelf makes an impressive centrepiece while also offering a surprising amount of storage.

Kristian has maximised storage by creating a range of built-in-furniture including a lofted bed, cubby seats and desks in the bedrooms, a custom wardrobe in the hallway, a canopy bed in the master bedroom and built in cabinets in the bathroom and kitchen.


5. A compact Waiheke home 

For south African expats Peter Cosnett and Hannes Strydom, the decision to move to the idyllic island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf was easier than finding somewhere to buy. “The quality of the housing stock just didn’t stack up,” says Peter. To get something at the standard they wanted meant building new. The land they eventually settled on was in Little Oneroa – a lofty section with wraparound views from Maraetai to Rangitoto.

The couple were sold on the design-and-build company ‘Box’ and it’s modernist design aesthetic but they also wanted something a little “different” to accommodate a life less ordinary. Box architect Tim Dorrington came up with a plan to build four equal-sized rectangular ‘modules’ positioned around a small central lightwell or atrium. A separate sleep-out would add flexibility.

At 90 square metres, the main home is compact but nevertheless delivers open-plan living plus two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a walk-in wardrobe and a separate laundry. The architectural magic that removes any sense of a squeeze is the creative use of outdoor space. Although smaller houses don’t necessarily cost less. Peter and Hannes were convinced of the benefits of sacrificing floor area for better materials.



If small living is appealing to you and your family, check out some small home ideas to get you inspired to downsize.


Photography by: Emma-Jane Hetherington, David Straight, Simon Wilson, Christina Kayser O, Helen Bankers/bauersyndication.com.au

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