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New Skinny House Floor Plans

by Nic Darling on January 4, 2010 · 20 comments

in architecture,Design,floorplan

In anticipation of our Skinny Project groundbreaking this month we have finalized the floor plans for our newly introduced model . . . the (aptly named) SKINNY. This sleek, simple beauty is designed for lots under 16 feet wide (a common Philadelphia condition), and represents our most efficient interior plan to date. Oddly, it also seems to have become our most flexible in the process. More on that in a minute.

The image above represents the base floor plan for the SKINNY. This is actually a scale representation of the version of this model we are about to build in the upcoming Skinny Project. You can still customize and buy this home today over at the Postgreen Homes website. Just keep in mind that these newest floor plans haven’t made it over there yet. They need your feedback first.

You will note that we are now including basements in our models which allows us to move some of our mechanicals out of the living area and offers a lot more storage. We will miss the finished concrete floor, but you can’t have everything (where would you put it?). The first floor of this model probably looks fairly familiar to those of you who have been around awhile. The open design is very similar to the the LOFT model with a wide open living room and kitchen design. There are an interesting variety of furnishing options for this space including plenty of room for a dining table and additional storage.

The second floor is where things start to get interesting. As you can see above, in the most basic iteration we stick with the wide open loft concept (my favorite). The bathroom, stair and washer/dryer closet all occupy one wall, leaving an open space in which to do what you will. Unfortunately, we suspect that there could be potential appraisal problems as homes are judged by the number of bedrooms and this appears to only have one. For those worried about such things or for those who happen to like rooms, we have a few other options.

The first reworking of the second floor simply adds one wall and an optional door to create a master bedroom style space upstairs with an open flex space in the front. This drawing, like all those that follow is just a rough concept, but the idea should be evident.

Option two in the “more walls” motif creates two distinct bedrooms and a central flex area for which we can imagine a number of options including an office, a closet or  a small game space. We will get more into these possibilities with a white board video later this week. Look for it.

Option three is the most carved up of the bunch with three separate rooms. The middle room, since it lacks a window, is not officially a bedroom, but could be a great place for a more private home office, a walk in closet of exceptional size or a room to store the dog that likes to bite visitors. I suppose one could also set up a big TV, a couple of comfortable chairs, a beer cooler and a video game system in there, but I can’t imagine what type of person might go in that direction.

The doors in each of these iterations are optional. You could have as many or as few as you like.

So, look these over and tell us what you think. Do you like the overall idea? Which 2nd floor option is your favorite? Are we missing anything important? Let us know in the comments.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

There also isn't much conversation to be had here . . . at least not with us. So come on over to the Postgreen Homes Blog and tell us what you think of our new(ish) digs and crazy ideas. We will be sure to tell you what we think of your opinion.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt January 5, 2010 at 1:10 am

The option with the defined master bedroom seems most plausible, especially if the buyer(s) ever has guests, one of the them snores like a banshee, etc. The two bedroom option could work as well, though that interior office/flex space seems like it would be dark and could might feel cramped in such a narrow building – not optimal working/hanging out conditions. I wonder if it would be possible to create a hybrid between the one and two bedroom, with some sort of flex or shoji like wall that could be largely slid out of way. I could imagine this working well for people with young children or guests that need greater privacy – when they are up and about open up the walls to let natural light in, etc. I guess you could also add some form of clerestory in the back wall of the front bedroom (etc.) to brighten up that middle space.

2 greenbuildingindenverdotcom January 5, 2010 at 1:47 am

An idea I had takes advantage of the smaller spiral staircases available under the IRC. The way I remember it, in the 1990′s, spiral staircases were required to be about 8′ in diameter, so they fell out of favor. Now they can be about 5′.

Imagine if you turned the upstairs bath 90 degrees in the middle of the second story. Now the bath is the divider between two bedrooms, and both bdrms. have ‘private access’ to the bath. Problem: You have to walk thru the bath to get to the rear bedroom (not acceptable). Solution: Install a small spiral stair for access to the rear bedroom. It’s reminiscent of when most 2 story homes had a small stair up from the kitchen area for the domestic help.

1. Both bedrooms have private access from the public areas and private access to the bath.
2. The 5′ diameter stair sort of substitutes for an upstairs hallway but takes up less space.
3. Place a wash basin in each bedroom, and it is like having two master suites.
4. Both bedrooms are much larger than the above options, eliminating the awkward windowless man cave opportunity.
5. People think spirals look cool.

1. It screws up your hopes for a clean, 2 story plumbing wall.
2. Cost of the stair. However, I believe a spiral can be site built for under $1000. Could be a bargain for the space saved.
3. The floorplan flexibility is compromised slightly.

It’s a nutty idea, yes, but that’s what brainstorming is about.

3 morgan January 5, 2010 at 11:37 am

Since the second floor is the top floor the central spaces could easily be lit by the sola-tube postgreen is so fond of, or a high R-value skylight. 16′ never looked so good

4 chad January 5, 2010 at 11:59 am

It’s important to note that the flexibility of this model requires the bath to be along the same wall as the stairs and kitchen in the house. There is no way to have the Skinny model without this main feature.

These divisions are really just examples and what they would be made out of, if made at all, is still under discussion. Building full, solid walls seems to confining for this model. It would be nice to have half walls or Soji screens like Matt suggested above.

We have had requests for fitting 2-3 rooms into this model for people who are sharing the house with a roomate or want two separate office spaces in addition to their bedroom. These options show that this is possible. If I had the 3 bedroom config, that middle room would be one giant closet, so I wouldn’t be too worried about natural light in there.

Kevin – I like your spiral staircase idea. I think it could be used in a totally new model. Imagine taking out the current stair altogether and inserting the spiral into the middle of the house. It would create separation between the kitchen/dining space and living room downstairs. It would also create a natural divider between two rooms upstairs. Throw all your plumbing/electric along one party wall (bath, laundry…) and throw tall and shallow storage units along the entire length of the other wall. Just a thought…

5 Brandon January 5, 2010 at 7:57 pm

From my dual-income, two kids perspective, I would find a way to move the staircase/front door to the other side of the house so that I could have 1.5 bathrooms up as an option on the wet wall. The two-bathroom setup is a real boon to quality of life in my experience, especially with young kids who can’t wait for someone else to get off the toilet without undesirable consequences!

Minimize the size of the W/D room, back up the .5 to the other side of the shower, and you still get the same width of the front bedroom.

6 Marg Durnin January 5, 2010 at 11:57 pm

About 10 years ago my husband and I designed and built a 16-ft wide infill house in Calgary, Alberta Canada. Length was 48 ft. We found putting the stairs on one side and the kitchen on the other, at the far end of the stairs, allowed for only one cross-wall on the main floor, but also allowed us to put a 1/2 bath on the main floor right across from the kitchen. We pulled all the vents together in the attic, and drained all the plumbing centrally as well.

Upstairs, at the top of the hall, we put a family bathroom that was directly above the kitchen but again, put it cross-wise to separate off a master BR. There was a hallway door to the BR at the top of the stairs, but also we had a door directly into the bathroom, so it could be used by us or other family members, etc. Having that wide space allowed us to have a 6-ft tub as we are tall, and also a shower — it would be feasible instead of the shower to put the washer-dryer in this room.

I have lived in and renovated many, many houses and my opinion is that having privacy in some well-defined rooms is definitely worth it vs having absolute open concept.

All the best!

7 Goran January 6, 2010 at 9:54 am

Like the plans.

This is a wacky idea, and it may be too expensive to do because of grade issues, but some folks may want the option to put the W/D in the basement. A nice feature of your homes has always been the vertical aspect with high ceiling and a beautiful staircase. Not only is it beautiful, but walking up and down it contributes surprisingly to the health of the occupants.

Personally, I’m getting to the age where my knees are starting to go. From experience, I know the ONLY thing that halts their deterioration is stair climbing. I’d look for excuses to walk up and down the stairs more often. A Washer/Dryer in the basement would help. Maybe even a second bathroom in the basement.

8 anje January 6, 2010 at 10:53 am

Flexibility! Love it. Particularly like morgan’s solar tube suggestion to light up the inner space in option 3. What about bedroom doors that let light through to the inner space? It might not be much, but would balance need for quiet in the bedrooms against light in the middle.

9 lavardera January 6, 2010 at 11:45 am

just some advice regarding a sprial stair option – make sure you include either a floor hatch or a “cargo” door somewhere for moving furniture if you have nothing but a 30″ spiral between floors. And a good hard point overhead for a come-along is a big help too.

10 todd oskin January 8, 2010 at 11:15 am

is there any reason why the w/d is on the 2nd floor? noise? space?

it seems like it would be problem if the back area/bedroom on 2nd floor was used as a bedroom…

i’d personally prefer it in the kitchen or basement…especially if it’s a clean, new, moisture-free postgreen basement.

my w/d combo is in the kitchen, and it is really loud and annoying…. but it is also ~30 years old and probably much louder than the ones you use.

11 Brandon January 8, 2010 at 11:26 am

The W/D is likely on the second floor because that’s where the dirty clothes are. On the bright, shining day when we can afford the remodel we have planned, we’re definitely moving the W/D to the floor with the bedrooms.

12 Nic Darling January 8, 2010 at 11:35 am

The washer/dryer question is an interesting one. I have always liked it in the basement, but I have found (through informal surveying) that I am in the minority. Most people I talk to seem to like it on the second floor. They say, as Brandon has, that they like the washer near the clothes.

Perhaps we need a more formal survey on this question. What do the rest of you think?

13 lavardera January 8, 2010 at 11:41 am

I’ve found people with preferences for all w/d options. Basement, Bedroom floor, as well as kitchen.

Myself, I also like the basement – two reasons. I hang things to dry in the basement which is a nice way to get some moisture in the air during the winter. And also things like water heaters and washing machines always seem to fail catastrophically for me. I’d rather have that happen in the basement.

14 Brandon January 8, 2010 at 11:47 am

I used to be concerned about having a washer in a place where flooding would be disastrous (as opposed to merely inconvenient), but with the automatic shutoffs and drain pans which tie into the waste line, I think the time has come. I’ve learned the hard way that my 3-year-old is more likely to flood an upstairs room by blocking the drain on the bathroom sink…

Lavardera makes a good point about the clothes line, though. I would probably address that by adding one of those retractable clotheslines in the bathroom.

15 Nic Darling January 8, 2010 at 12:11 pm

I am not as worried about catastrophic failure (knock on wood) for the reasons Brandon mentioned, but I still lean toward the basement laundry in a small house. Having the laundry upstairs seems to complicate the space (as Todd mentioned). I also have seen a tendency for laundry to spill over the boundaries we define for it. The small room doesn’t always contain the mess that attends washing clothes. I would rather have that mess (including the clothes hanging to dry) out of sight in the otherwise unused basement.

Of course, my wife would say that this opinion comes from being somewhat less involved in the laundry process than she is. She would also, I’m sure, say that the addition of more stairs to the process would increase my level of involvement exponentially.

Regardless, it seems that popular opinion is with the upstairs placement. My informal survey just conducted on Twitter backs that up. If you want to chime in on that, follow me at

16 Dan January 8, 2010 at 2:33 pm

What kind of automatic shutoffs do you recommend? I found the Watts Intelliflow, but it got a lot of bad reviews on Amazon. Most of the bad reviews said it stopped working after about a year.

17 lavardera January 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Does stopped working mean:
- does not prevent a flood
- lets no water to the washer

18 Dan January 12, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The reviews on Amazon are mostly about problems with water not flowing to the washer. The units work for a year or two and then need to be replaced. One reviewer has front loading machine that has two cycles and the valve will close while the machine is running.

19 jimluk January 15, 2010 at 12:27 am

When I was in architecture school I attended a lecture by Dan Rockhill of Studio 804 fame, he(his students) solved the appraisal problem with movable cabinets(on casters I believe). I think an option similar to this was discussed back when the decision was made to remove closets from the original 100k house.

I can’t seem to find a picture with the cabinets closed but the project is called Mod 4

this is with the cabinets open and back to back, and they unfold to block off the entire space. I believe there were two sets allowing for a 3 bedroom configuration

20 Kris December 10, 2010 at 9:18 am

I hate having a washer/dryer in the basement. To me the best place is next to the kitchen because then I can combine kitchen and laundry duties more easily. And especially because having access to the backyard makes it easier to hang clothes outside to dry. Our new house has been designed with a large overhang right a door into the laundry so that I can haang clothes even if rain is threatening (similar to many house in Costa Rica where almost noone has a dryer). We also made the entry to the laundry adjacent to the mudroom where we put a shower. Since our house is in a wooded area on a lake (with no lawn) and we have a 7yo boy, we figure the best way to contain dirt is to come directly into the laundry from the lake side, strip off clothes and put them straight into the bin, step around the corner to shower and voila!, mess contained. I also love laundry chutes but our current design didn’t allow for one. However, there will be an open balcony area above the kitchen, so a good shot could toss dirty clothes straight from the common space between the 2 bedrooms directly into the laundry room…LOL. Maybe if we set up target “baskets”.

Have you thought about encouraging outside hanging to dry clothes by locating the W/D closet behind the kitchen area?

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