A Simple-ish Plan Revisited

The Best-Laid Plans

Good old Winnie (Churchill not Peters) can always be relied on for an apposite, pithy phrase and when he said, “He who fails to plan is planning to fail” he was not wrong. When it comes to house design, a good floorplan can make or break the deal. While each site is unique and every client’s needs and budget is different, after 14 years in the business, at Box, we’ve found that the same issues in terms of the home’s layout and how it should function tend to crop up. Here we talk through five floorplans that were the right solution at the time but which can also be tweaked to adapt to common situations.


Everyone knows that a north-facing site is primo, but what happens when the best views are to the south? In this attic-style Waiheke home, we wanted to maximise the vista and the available sunlight, plus protect the occupants from cold southerlies. Two offset pavilions, running north/south on the property capture all-day sun, flooding in from the east, north and west through high clerestory windows, and create a sheltered courtyard to the northeast which is bounded on one side by a covered carport and storage. It’s a comfortable place to retreat to if the southerly is howling but there’s the option of another deck to the west to enjoy sundowners should it be calm. Unusually, the living areas are to the south where they access the view through towering windows that push up into the gabled roofline, but the three bedrooms along the north-west elevation feature a mix of vertical and horizontal slot windows to provide both light and privacy. A mezzanine, set above the kitchen, hunkers under the exposed rafters of the roofline to comply with height-to-boundary regulations and, facing south itself, gets a magnificent frame of a Pohutukawa and the ocean beyond through the living-room windows. To futureproof the plan, Box included an allocated dining zone, but it’s also large enough to accommodate the owner’s baby grand piano instead, and the large kitchen island can accommodate lots of stools for casual dining. Grouping the living zones and the master suite together and using a stair to separate this from the other bedrooms, effectively creates the feeling of a self-contained space when it is only the owners in residence.


This home on a generous site had to operate successfully for just two people in their early retirement – and when a large family came to stay. With a 270° outlook, there was no shortage of views. Built in a subdivision in Kerikeri, on land where there were conservation values to encourage birdlife, the house had to have a restricted footprint although there was plenty of opportunity for a very large garden. An L-shaped plan proved the answer, a form that would give the house presence and a sense of intimacy within this open landscape but where the internal rooms, along with covered and uncovered alfresco spaces, could make the most of views to the bush and the river and the Bay of Islands while following the sun. The communal living spaces – kitchen, dining and lounge and laundry – are in the centre of the plan. They act as a buffer between the owners’ wing on the eastern elevation (with a bedroom, a shower with an island view to celebrate and a morning deck to take it easy on)

and their visitors. This latter part of the dwelling is larger and boasts its own TV room complete with kitchenette where young or old or those in between can be closeted away in peace, plus its own bathroom to serve the two bedrooms. Box did not group the services in a single hub in this instance as the client’s brief and the aspect of the site itself outweighed any financial saving. An opening kitchen window to the south acts as a servery onto the entrance deck and a grassed area with a carport which is another covered alfresco area in times when the northerly blows. Flexibility of living is key here and, when it comes to views, with decks wrapping around the north-west and on the north-east, everyone gets a chance to grab a slice of something nice.


This home of 87-square metres (a simple gable with big picture windows) is part of the pre- designed Artis collection. It will be built on a Waiheke property to accommodate extended family – and is blessed with views of the ocean and beach to the west. A larger home at the opposite end of the site will accommodate the owners. Wastewater requirements on the island necessitated a secondary dwelling that was smaller, and the challenge was to craft it without removing several native trees. The solution is a two- level, two-bedroom house with hard-stand parking. A 3.5 metre x 3.5 metre deck, facing north, extends the living without pushing the property size beyond regulations. Entry is through a brightly coloured front door directly into the living space which faces the view opposite where sliding doors permit access to the deck. A double-height void above the living room allows the feeling of vertical volume and skylights in the roof above bring in yet more light. A guest toilet is tucked in under the stairs, making good use of every metre of space. Upstairs the two bedrooms share a bathroom. The main bedroom is positioned for a view of the ocean and is large enough to be able to accommodate two single beds if need be. A robe between it and the guest room provides a good sound buffer.


With amazing views across the water to Kapiti Island, this permanent home atop the sand dunes in Peka Peka, was exposed to high winds. A protected east-facing courtyard serves several purposes. It acts as an entry space via a security gate from the street, is a fenced off place for the owners’ dog to exercise (and provides somewhere to wash their beloved pet after long walks on the beach) and is protected from the winds – so a nice outdoor room to sit on mornings with a cup of coffee. Glass walls here and on the west-facing living area opposite mean the view of the ocean is unimpeded from the courtyard. This is a blended family so occasionally the house needs to accommodate six children. Capacious living spaces offer a convivial place to gather but crafting a floorplan that allowed for privacy was equally important.

The main bedroom is to the north, separated from the remaining two bedrooms on the south side by the living zone. In this guest ‘wing’, there is also a flexi room which is a space to watch TV but can double as another bedroom. Built-in window seating (aka a daybed) in the hallway offers a secluded nook for reading or, when summer holidays roll around and the house needs to absorb the crowd, could transform into a further place to sleep. In the main bathroom, the WC, shower and vanity are separated with doors, rather like that in a caravan park, so that three people can use the facilities at once. High windows to the east bring in lots of gentle light and a shade sail on the northern deck means the home is protected from too much sun in the summer.


At 68 square metres (excluding decking), this is a tiny house that fits within the minor dwelling definition as stipulated by Auckland Council. Located in Sandspit on the waterfront, it is used as a holiday cabin where extended family can come and stay. To save space, the entrance is off a covered deck directly into the dining/kitchen area. This extensive decking, accessed through sliding doors, amplifies the living zone which is also linked to a flexi room that has been equipped with sofas and a fold-down bed, so it can be closed off when needed and made into a third bedroom. In all the bedrooms, hanging space is provided by hooks on the wall. The need for wardrobes in a holiday home is somewhat negated but nevertheless a 600mm wide robe could still be provided in the 3.7m x 3m rooms. To save on plumbing costs, the services – kitchen, bathroom and laundry – are grouped together in the centre of the plan. The dining/living zone and the main bedroom benefit from a higher roof stud at the northern end of the mono-pitch and highlight windows to the north and west allow this compact cabin to feel more spacious.

By Box

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