Celebrating character – not reinventing it

This slab-up renovation held onto the layout of the original coastal cottage – adding 'elbow room', optimising flow and prioritising sustainability

Renovation by Jason Macdonald, JMAC Architecture

From the building designer:

Project description

As a couple who embrace small space living, our homeowners wanted their tired Mt Maunganui beach cottage to evolve to suit their living needs with engaging, expanded living spaces for year round alfresco entertainment.

The owners wanted to celebrate the home's existing relaxed character and not re-invent it. 

They appreciated small space living and blurring indoor/outdoor living; however, some areas of the existing house just needed a little more ‘elbow room’.

The project's intent was to explore the challenges for a refresh while retaining as much of the existing cottage as possible.  

It became evident due to degrading existing construction that a complete redesign from slab up was the design pathway allowing for resolution of structural integrity and robust construction techniques. 

The original layout was reasonably efficient, and a subtle space change widening the living and the singular bedroom allowed for the required ‘elbow room’ to be created. 

A mono pitch roof maintains the original cottage form and respects the coastal ‘kiwi bach’ vernacular.

This roof has also been being extended to join a seamless alfresco space.

Design features & creative solutions

The hero is the large alfresco living area where swathes of playful light flood in via translucent battened ceilings and walls. 

Combinations of multiple sliding screens and over-the-wall glazed sliders ensure a natural flow for embracing expanded living. 

The opening or closing of spaces give opportunities for flexible living, depending on season and weather conditions.

A café style kitchen window ensures further social connection from kitchen to alfresco dining and entertainment – creating a playful sense of café milieu.

The singular bedroom boasts a recessed window seat that is bathed in afternoon sunlight – a favourite spot for our homeowners to read and reflect.

Landscaping consists of multi-purpose decking extending for a seamless connection from alfresco dining to a ‘tiny pool’. 

A garden backdrop of tropical and coastal plants provides a sense of resort relaxation.


As the original cottage was demolished to the slab it made sense to take a proactive approach for waste minimisation by diverting dismantled elements to a demolition and salvage specialist for repurposing. 

Windows, plumbing fixtures, appliances, roofing iron were just some of these elements.

New construction also provided the opportunity to create an energy efficient envelope. 

High performance double-glazing, over specified insulation, and solar panels providing a near neutral electrical production versus consumption.

“The rebuilt and reworked home embraces small spaces that engage natural light play and connection,” says Jason Macdonald.

Credit list

Tiny Pools
Roofing Industries Multirib – Colorsteel & transluscent
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Runner Up
Tony Roberts Builders
Enduroclad Board and Batten; James Hardie Axon Panel
Window/door joinery
APL – Residential + Architectural

Designed by: JMAC Architecture

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Amanda Aitken Photography

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