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Postgreen Homes Concept: Three Bedrooms in 16 Feet?

by Nic Darling on February 10, 2010 · 13 comments

in architecture,Design,floorplan

Our current line of houses covers a significant portion of those looking for a new urban house, but we have gotten a little bit of a hard time from those who have a couple of kids and still want one of our homes. This has been particularly the case for those who have a girl and a boy (we are firm believers in bunk beds for same-sex child situations). In response to this small, but insistent minority, we have put together a little concept.

This idea doesn’t have a name yet but you can certainly hit the comments with suggestions. We have basically put a master suite and two small “children’s rooms” on the second floor while maintaining the wide open floor plan downstairs that we think works so well for families. Check it out . . .

You will note that the master bedroom has a nice big closet and there is another closet in the hallway. The “kids” rooms are definitely on the small side, but so are kids, and if you had doubts about the size issue, you can always go back and read my thoughts on the issue. We think that a loft bed situation would make great sense for older kids. This would give them a cool place to sleep and still leave most of their room open.

This is still a very preliminary idea, and we would love to get your feedback on it. Take a look at the drawing and tell us what you think 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.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rigel February 10, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Hey Guys,

Is there any way to get the W/D out of the bathroom and to add a toilet and pedistal sink to the first floor for company?

2 Jarsh February 11, 2010 at 9:13 am

I’m liking this for the “2.5″ers (Maybe that could be the name?) Kids rooms should be for sleeping, maybe homework. Small room with a loft sounds about right to me. Maybe make the divider wall a little more “removable” (AKA not securing it to the floor in the middle) so it could allow for one large room for when the kids move out or for future owners.

Add a picket fence and maybe a dog and you could live the “American Dream” in this house!

3 Zac February 11, 2010 at 1:20 pm

The 16′ wide floor plan is challenging, but also great due to it’s modular nature (2 sheets of plywood wide). Here in Portland, we have “skinny lots” which are really just half lots, 25×100′ – which allows for a 15′ wide home. The city staged a design competition for 15′ wide housing on these lots several years ago, you can download the entire catalog here:
It might be worth a look for some ideas and inspiration.

Also, I agree that the kid’s loft bed situation would be a very acceptable situation, but I’ve found that home buyers still have the “bigger is better” mentality, and might be put off by the small rooms. It could just be a matter of staging the two small bedrooms with a loft bed to give them an idea of what to do in these smaller rooms. I’m guessing your ceiling heights will be much taller to allow for this?

4 Jerry Hajek February 11, 2010 at 6:51 pm

The loft bed would be a ‘child pleaser’, but I vote with Zac. Higher ceilings would make this option less cramped feeling…although having been in a small bedroom as a child, it’s still nice to have as much space as is practical.
…and yeah, how about a powder room downstairs? I’ve seen some dinky ones. It’s not like they need to be expansive. ‘Ell, I rented a house that literally had a bath that you could sit on the throne, brush your teeth and soak your feet concurrently. Made for a larger bedroom, which is what I wanted…

5 chad February 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

Good comments guys.

We could certainly add a powder room as an upgrade downstairs. It would probably be on the same wall as the stairs right behind an opening to access the basement stair. Having said this we are not big fans at all of “powder rooms” on the first floor of small infill lots. They are big wastes of prime space and leave the downstairs less open and usable. All just so your guests don’t have to see your bath or someone is too impatient for a house member to get out of the main bath. We’d much rather do as we have in the Triplex plan and remove the sinks from the main bath, doubling the functionality of one bath. ISA also says, “there’s no graceful way to exit a bathroom into a dining room or living room” and we can’t really disagree.

The point about taller ceilings is a good one that I think we overlooked a bit. The ceilings would definitely need to be taller to place a loft above the door to the room and closets that would likely go next to the door. Alternatives could be some sort of murphy bed that folded out of the way during normal use. Currently, we like that a twin bed will fit perfectly under the window, lengthwise in the room leaving about 12′x7′ of floor space open which is plenty for a desk or extra seating.

We are looking over these Seattle projects and finding a lot of interesting layouts that I think are helpful. I have to say though, that these 25′ x 100′ lots are huge by infill Philly standards. Dealing with less than 20′ widths and true infill where no windows and doors can be put in side walls is a whole different ball game…

6 mike February 15, 2010 at 4:05 am

1. move door 2′ to the right – entering on a wall is awkward.

2. have the stairs wind into the living area (within the same width – all our houses abroad were like this)

3. place a closet in the bottom left corner

4. think about flipping the kitchenette to the other side of the house, and using furniture to divide the living/dining areas.

5. if your ceiling heights are higher, you may be able to get more closet space in the master.

skinny projects are great. two of the more interesting projects are hiroaki ohtani’s mini-house in kobe
and crepain spaen’s steff+brit

7 Goran February 16, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Wow, the Crepain Spaen house is amazing. It makes such good use of a narrow (4m wide), lot. Despite being narrow, each of the rooms is useful and feels spacious, and the house seems full of light. The large communal rooms (kitchen, living room, office) are large enough to hold everyone, yet because of the many different levels (10 + 2 roof levels) there is plenty of privacy. And this was achieved with no interior partition walls at all, except for those around the bathroom and W/C. They even made space for a small lift for handicapped visitors. Amazing. Personally, I’d love to have that many stairs and levels in my own home.

8 Mark February 18, 2010 at 5:34 pm

When we started our project (4 years ago!) for a passive solar straw bale house, I lobbied hard for a kids room similar to that. I was inspired by a picture in book of “smart homes”, where the kids rooms were reminiscent of a ships cabin. Maybe 6 x 8, just enough room for a loft bed, desk underneath, and built-in dresser. Basically, a private space for changing, homework, and sleeping. Then these two spaces had a wider doors that could be opened to a “common area” that gave you the play space where the (presumably) two kids could interact and spend most of the waking time.

However, I was overruled on this by both my wife and the architect, all in the interest of ….. “resale”. The problem is this: nobody wants to take the risk with something as expensive as a house (and a custom house in our case) and end up with something so “non-conforming” that it won’t sell.

So I think you have a great idea going there, but the real question is how to change peoples conception of the “norm” or better yet, “minimum requirements”.

9 Jerry Hajek February 19, 2010 at 6:51 pm

I was waiting for that to rear it’s head, the issue of ‘resale’. It’s stopped more projects on the drawing board than anything I can think of. Banks have become so conservative of late that anything that deviates from the ‘norm’, as much as we may think the ‘norm’ is wrong, gets to die with less than a whimper. I’m impressed that Postgreen, et al have funding for the various that are underway; it will be instructive if the ’3bdrm’ variant passes muster. I think it’s worth a go, if only as a ‘one off’. I’ll be watching. ;)

10 Tim February 24, 2010 at 1:22 pm

As you’re keen on bunkbeds, have you thought about using a capsule bed (I’d seen this in the NYT as inspiration just before reading this) – – as the divider between the two rooms. One bed in one room at floor level and the bed in the other up. You could use the beds as the room divider and give each room more floor space? I’d guess it should be easy to re-instate the space when you move too?

11 T.C. March 1, 2010 at 2:00 pm

Guys- My kids’ rooms are all 8×10. The oldest (boy) opted recently for a futon under a loft bed. All of the rooms have a modest closet, 24′x36″. The space is tight, but all they really use the rooms for is sleeping, changing, and reading. Note that these are code compliant, having at least a floor area of 70 sq. ft.(IRC)

12 WhaddyaKnow July 25, 2010 at 8:17 am

Great discussion and one sorely overlooked by so many designers. We are in the process of renovating a 1 BR townhome and trying to turn a loft area into a bedroom that can accommodate our daughters – who are 9 years apart in age! We can’t cheat with small, crib-sized beds. We can’t bunk them because they have different bed times, moods, sleeping habits, and ultimately they need some away time from each other — or at least have the illusion of their own sanctuary. We are a family of 4 living in a small space already, so private time becomes a BIG issue. Here is what has worked well for us — high ceilings, great natural lighting and windows, multi-levels, and as much open space as possible. We do not have a powder room on our main level, but we DO have a second bath downstairs that works well for guests and for the frequent and real matter of getting to a bathroom when the main bath is occupied. (Esp. critical when potty training kids.) We are puzzling over the kids’ bedroom space, but are looking at some sort of a suite arrangement which will give each of them about a 6×8 sleeping area with a common hallway/wardrobe space. I will say this — we aren’t bothering ourselves with resale. That is probably foolish, but we have to make this work for our family. I LOVE that my kids DO NOT use their rooms as play areas. The bedroom is a place to read, rest, recover, snuggle, and find peace. They keep a minimum of toys in their room and it makes clean up a million times easier. I feel like we are living our values in this way as the bedrooms do not become repositories for more stuff — they are a place of retreat. Still – the bedroom situation is not going to be easy. It is a tall order to give a teen her much-needed space while accommodating a toddler, knowing that the game will change every year as they get older. Thanks for doing this serious and important work and for providing this blog. I will definitely keep checking back for updates.

13 Chad Ludeman July 25, 2010 at 9:09 am

Great comment Whaddyaknow. I believe the concept of “maintaining” resale value in homes is often over rated. It also has a way of keeping homes boring sometimes. What you are planning to do will greatly increase the value of the home for not only you, but someone in the future like your family that wants to live in an efficient and smaller space. You may decrease the value for some out there either with little vision or who want to maintain larger spaces, but you will capture the eye of a few key buyers that will be willing to pay more than others for a more standard home.

Most realtors and developers told us our floorplans would never work in this or any market because they were not standard enough… Keep up the great work and good luck on your renovation.

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