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Thorne Group

THORNE GROUP: BUILDING ARCHITECTURAL HOMES SINCE 2007

8 Key Renovation Design Tips

We talked to multi award winning architectural designer – Jon McAlpine (lead designer at Thorne Group Architecture) – regarding his top tips on what to consider when planning a major structural alteration.



1. Space: Ideally, spaces should be able to be used for multiple purposes. l like to dive deeper to see if this is possible to achieve before having to increase the overall footprint of the home. Having the functionality of rooms align with how you want to spend time in your home will create a much more pleasant living environment and allow you time out from others when you need it.


2. Flow & room location: Consider the current flow and room locations within your home. Do you get the winter sun in the lounge? Is the toilet in the right location? Does it bother you that visitors can see into bedrooms when entering the house? Is your main living space on the wrong side of the house? List everything you would want to change about the location and flow of each room as a starting point for your ‘wish list’.


3. Future proof: How long do you anticipate you will live in the home? Do you want to create a space within your home for a close friend, family member or even planning to expand your own family? One thing we find that people often underestimate is how their space requirements change as their children or even grandchildren grow. When the kids are young, you want to have eyes on them as much as possible. With teenagers, both of you will want as much space as possible!


4. Indoor/outdoor flow: How effectively does the indoor/outdoor flow of the home work? Would you like to add covered outdoor areas, sliding doors, shade or seating? Creating an ‘outdoor room’ is often an afterthought, however considering this as part of your overall design can deliver an entirely different result.


5. Storage: Do you get frustrated at having insufficient storage, or do you just need to have your storage structured in a more practical way? Storage is the one thing people absolutely love, and if you do ever want to sell your home, something you can be sure that potential buyers will take note of. So, make sure you have a place for everything, and everything is in its place!


6. Noise mitigation: Are there any pinch points when it comes to noise which affect how you enjoy your home? Do you tend to retire to bed early while other people in the home enjoy staying up late? Creating ‘quiet zones’ and ‘active zones’ within your home will ensure everyone’s needs are met.

7. Heating/cooling: Ideally you want to achieve a home that is warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Is optimising passive solar energy important to you? As the majority of New Zealanders seek to reduce the running costs of their home, this will be the time to really analyse your electricity and water consumption. This may involve upgrading window joinery and retrofitting insulation or may be something as simple as adding water-saving devices to your tapware.


8. Design aesthetic: Finally, when undertaking a major alteration or renovation think about if you want the design to be sympathetic to the original design/era or a complete modernisation? Either way, it is critical that the addition or renovation incorporates seamlessly with the existing building.

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