Monday, February 9, 2015

Small Modern Houses

I have been thinking more about smaller homes. Homes that while functional, have significantly less square footage than a typical home built today.

There are many examples of small homes in our past. Many variations can be found even today if you look around. It is only in the past 30 or 40 years that the homes most of us know have gotten larger. My father was a builder and a businessman, and I grew up in a fairly good sized home. But when I think of my grandparents house, it always seemed smallish. It was simply 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, a living room and kitchen. They had added an addition, I guess I would call it a great room. But it was only about 20' square.

I am contemplating creating some smaller designs to offer customers, smaller than what I currently offer. Many people in large cities live in tiny apartments of only a few hundred square feet. I guess I am probably just piling onto a small trend of sorts. There many designs currently available from a variety of sources, but almost none of these designs have a modernist style. Why not build home that meets all your needs for bedrooms and dining areas and living rooms ect, just with a smaller footprint. A smaller footprint reduces your initial building cost, reduces your taxes and reduces your energy bills. A smaller home will also typically reduce the maintenance and cleaning required.

I believe there are a number of people that smaller homes might appeal to. Singles or young couples with no children, empty nesters, etc. Maybe a smaller house could function as a 2nd home or vacation home away from the city.

If you happen to have access to old plan books from the 50's and 60's, you will find a number of small modern designs. Below is an image from such a plan book. It is really a simple and small modern design. With a few tweaks, something like this would work very well today.

The biggest question for most people is what space do you take away from a typical design to create a small home. The answer is really, everywhere. You simply start with the idea of reducing the square footage in every room. You also eliminate duplicate spaces.

A living room can typically be reduced in size but it still needs to be large enough to accommodate guests when needed. The kitchen can be small and still remain functional. Maybe a galley style kitchen. There should only be one dining area, even better if it is integrated with the kitchen. Many space efficient designs utilize a large kitchen island that integrates the dining table. These areas can still be open and stylish, just smaller than the typical home.

Bedrooms can also typically be reduced in size. How big does a bedroom really need to be? The essentials for a bedroom are room for a bed and space for dressers etc. You don't want your bedroom so small that you can't walk past your spouse without turning sideways, but you don't need it to be 25' square either. Can you still have a master bath or en suite? Sure, I think most people want a private bath in the master bedroom. If you don't, then you can reduce the size of the home that much more.

Smaller homes may not be for everyone, but there is certainly a section of the population that sees appeal in what they offer. Look for some smaller stock plans to be added to my selection in the next few months.

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