Tips and tricks you need to know for renovating a small home

If you’re renovating a small home, there are a few things you should keep in mind. We’ve summarised our favourite tips and tricks for considering smaller spaces…

Living spaces

One of the keys to living in a small home is ensuring you have enough storage, a thought which applies to furniture as much as it does to built-in storage.

Think about every piece of furniture you own and what purpose it serves. If you cram your home full of large furniture, it will make it seem smaller, so ensure you only keep what you actually use and need.

Could any of your furniture be combined? Are you using a table for your TV, where you could have a sideboard with drawers and cupboards for storage?

“Consider getting customised furniture and storage to enable maximum use of every square metre of space,“ NZCB builder Ian Chamberlain, from Chamberlain Carpentry and Joinery in Bay of Plenty/Waikato, says. Custom-built or multi-function furniture is a great solution as you can incorporate storage under beds and seating. Fold-out desks and office furniture can also be great in a small space, if they’re not going to be used fulltime.

Wall-hung items are your best mate in a small home, as the more floor you can see, the bigger your room will seem (and the easier it is to vacuum!). Wall-mounted shelving for books and knick-knacks will give your home a lovely, lived-in feeling without it seeming crowded.


Think about how much time you spend in the bedroom. If you’re just sleeping in there, you probably don’t need a lot of space. Consider under-bed storage and wall-mounted bedside cabinets. If you don’t have a built-in wardrobe, a wall-mounted one won’t take up valuable floor space and will help the room still seem open and airy.

Kitchen and bathroom

If your kitchen doesn’t get a lot of natural sunlight, full height, wall-mounted cabinetry will make the space feel closed in. Consider deep drawers instead of cupboards under your benchtops, as it’s easier to access the back of them, and think about drawers that run flush to the floor, instead of toe-kicks, to maximise your storage space.

If your budget extends to it, you could also install a skylight and integrate your kitchen appliances into your cabinetry. This will give your kitchen a seamless, slick look – exactly what you want in a small space.

We also recommend a sink with a back drain as the plumbing will take up less room underneath, giving you more storage space in that vital under-sink cupboard.

Small bathrooms can still be luxurious. If you don’t have room for a full walk-in shower and a bath, try creating a wet zone instead – tile the space and pop both a bath and shower behind a glass screen. High-quality tapware and fittings will also help it feel fancier, as will thinking about art and plants when styling the space.

Consider wall-hung vanities and toilets, too. Think about what items you actually want to store in your bathroom cabinets. Do you need shelving behind a mirror as well as a vanity? Are two shallow vanity drawers better than a single deep drawer?

Light is vital

One of the most important things you can do to make a small space feel bigger is make sure there’s plenty of light. If you have small, or long skinny rooms with few windows, consider installing skylights to increase the amount of natural light. Natural light gives a sense of space, and will mean you can have more fun with dark wall colours to create a sense of drama and luxury.

Alternatively, additional light fittings will also help give a sense of space. Strategically placed pendant or wall-mounted lighting is better than standing floor lamps in a small space. Think about where furniture will go and what activities you do – do you read in bed? Or in the lounge? Where might you need a lamp or smaller task-specific lighting?

And, lastly…

If in doubt, your builder is an expert! Click here to find a local NZCB builder who can help with your renovation. They have a wealth of knowledge and are up to date on all the latest building techniques, so, if you’re struggling, ask them for ideas.

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