Design tip for small but smart homes

If there’s one aspect which unites us all at The Thorne Group, it’s our love of design. Jon McAlpine (Director of Thorne Group Architecture) is an expert at creating flexible design elements in smaller homes.


It’s all about zones

Having smaller but functional spaces becomes useful. Even if it is just a couple having different zones’ to allow each occupant living in the home their own space; whether it be a space to read, entertain or just watch TV. Creating different zones whilst still ensuring you achieve your ultimate objective of having a low maintenance/small footprint home.


Flexible zones, ability to close off the lounge.

The current Thorne Group showhome features a sliding door to give occupants the ability to close off the lounge from the kitchen/dining to create a different zone (the reeded glass still allowing light to filter through). This opens up the option of possibly entertaining in kitchen/dining whilst someone watches TV or reads in the closed off lounge, still accommodating different needs without having two lounges.

Factoring in the features

Other features Jon will often integrate within a home, (if the site allows for it), include a study area, covered outdoor area, feature entrance, window seat and feature ceilings (which whilst add to the budget do give the illusion of more space).


Window Seats

Window seat at award winning 2017 Showhome (above) provided both a place to read a book in the sun or additional seating if entertaining.

Window Seat at current multi-award winning showhome (above) combines both storage and seating.


Study Nooks

We have found study nooks to be a better option than an office. Electronic devices are so portable, a separate room isn’t necessary. It’s great to keep you connected to the warmth and action of the house – and best of all, saves on floor area and therefore costs, freeing up budget for other areas.

2017 Award winning showhome office nook (above)

Multi-functional rooms: In most smaller homes, rooms will be required to serve more than one purpose. In the example below at a small Mt Maunganui home, the office transformed into a guest bedroom from a bed hidden in the wall.


Designated laundry space: If you don't want to increase the footprint of your home by creating a separate laundry, yet the idea of your washing machine in the garage doesn't appeal, another alternative is the create a designated laundry nook within a hallway or hidden cupboard. The laundry cabinetry in the current Thorne Group showhome is situated in the transitioning space to the garage.


Having a covered outdoor area isn’t just about providing shade on a summery day.

With detailed planning and clever design taking into account privacy, views, prevailing winds and sun angles – a covered outdoor area can be functional even on the coldest winter’s day. Covered outdoor

Mount Maunganui small but smart home (below)

Render of a Mt Maunganui home on an infill site (below).


Built in dining area

Other design considerations could be a built in dining area for space optimisation, that could also be utilised as an additional entertaining space.







Finally one of the most critical design considerations within a small footprint is ensuring complete space optimisation, so absolutely no 'dead space'. This also translates to any transitioning areas such as entrance and hallways.


Please contact us at: jon@thornegroup.co.nz​  |  027 2773233 if you would like to discuss further.

jon@thornegroup.co.nz​

027 2773233