Part 1 – 745 sqft and 845 sqft Condominiums, Pennsylvania

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    I’d definitly take unit two.
    For a change, I’d flop the bathroom closet up against the entry and leave the wall into the living area open.
    Unit one is a car crash. I don’t see any small change that would make it meaningfully better.

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    I meant to say bedroom closet wall, not bathroom

  • Jane

    Happy New Year to all,
    Tough challenge today! Personally I would purchase the smaller unit (if I had to) – 745, but would have to make some changes. the bathroom is way oversized and not effective, bedroom closet location is weird (a wall re-location could have better layout for bath and closet)and I’m not crazy about the kitchen, but….

    Unit 845 has no front entrance, no closet – outside stuff would get mixed in with bedroom – also no privacy unless you went with something like a portable privacy wall. Bathroom needs to be reorganzied – w/d door collides with bath door. Living area not bad, but faces east and thereby limited direct sunlight, small deck (probably on both).

    Considering they are both built units, there would be limited changes, and therefore not sure, but I would keep looking for another condo.

  • JimG

    I would pick the smaller one. I don’t like the way the entry on the larger one opens directly into the bedroom. In the smaller one I like the use of the closets and the bathroom as buffers to the next unit, but the bathroom needs help. Even just eliminating the built in for the washer and dryer.

  • Terri

    What sad plans. Limited living/dining space in the first with an oversized bathroom, while the second has lots of living area but a very small bedroom,further hampered by it sharing the entry space.

    In both cases, guests will be exposed to the bedroom since it’s not shut away (and you have to walk through it to get to the loo in the 745-sf unit). However, in the 845-sf unit that exposure to the bedroom is immediate. Even with some kind of wall divider right by the door, the fact that the bed is there would be hard to hide. It might work, though, if the owner used a wallbed (and kept it closed all day).

    Although the smaller unit faces south, it has limited window area; therefore the larger unit’s eastern windows might actually allow more light into the living space than the other’s south-facing ones would. Based on that alone, I’d chose the larger one. An investment in a couple of closets (one beside fridge and one next to entry–not to ceiling height), a butcher-block island and a wallbed unit would make this one work okay for me.

  • Elizabeth


    Assuming this is a place for 1, maybe 2 people, I’d pick 845 because there’s hope for it.

    In 745, the deep front entry area seems like a waste of space in a place where space is at a premium. The window is small and the area in front of the window is taken up for circulation to the bedrm. Window are tiny and don’t seem to centre on anything, so don’t work as an anchor. Bathrm is clearly oversized and FAST.

    845 has more windows and using Jim A’s idea of moving the closet, the bdrm gets some light and some privacy from the front entry. Bathroom still too big and FAST, and I’d make the kitchen counter into a U-shape on the window side for more counters and space definition, and put the dining table near the window beyond the kitchen.

    Living room is a long shape, but doesn’t look too strange since the kitchen is sort of balancing the width.

    Initially I thought I liked 745 better, but closer inspection changed my mind.

  • Tom

    First time commenting, been viewing for about 6 weeks.

    In the 845, I would consider a wall to separate the bedroom, with the bedroom door opposite the bathroom door.

    Possibly move the closet to the wall against the building corridor, so that the bedroom door opens to hide a fraction of the closet.

    The other side of the bedroom door I would steal a little space from the bedroom to provide a hall closet. Gotta put those coats and hats and gloves and snowshoes somewhere, in February. If the bedroom closet stayed where it is, the hall closet would only be 2 feet long, which is extremely minimal.

    I would consider an island or table/work surface to complete the kitchen; there’s no surface on which to prepare anything. Putting the dining table close to the bedroom leaves a big square for living. Putting the dining near the window is nice in terms of view but turns the living area into an intolerable long skinny rectangle.

  • Doug Roberts


    Welcome to the site Tom, and thanks for your first (hopefully of many) posts.

    I agree with your suggestions of putting a wall between the bedroom and the entry and moving the bedroom closet to the corridor wall, as this would help to define the two spaces and provide more of a buffer to the corridor (in the same fashion as JimG pointed out above concerning the 745 unit). However, my concern with having the bedroom door opposite the bathroom door is that the view from the bed would then be directly into the bathroom. My preference would be to extend the new wall further to block the view of the bathroom and then have sliding pocket doors that meet at the corner, which could be pushed back to open up the bedroom to the rest of the unit.

    I also agree with adding an island/table to complete the kitchen. My inclination would be to use a counter-height table which could do double duty as both a work surface and as a dining table. This approach would eliminate the need for a second dining table and would allow the space opposite the kitchen to be used for other purposes, such as a home office.

    I would also slide the bathroom vanity and toilet over slightly and use both that freed-up space and the space next to the fridge to add a hall closet. I would then reverse the swing of the bathroom door to reduce the conflict with the laundry closet door.

    Although the 745 unit features a larger and more private bedroom, the living area and bathroom are complete disasters are are pretty much unsalvageable, so of these two, I would definitely go with the 845 unit.

  • Louis Pereira


    I would choose the 845 s.f. unit because of the larger footprint. I also see the potential of improving the Entry, Kitchen and Bedroom layout with minimal or less effort than the smaller unit.

    I once owned an 840 sq.ft. condo and it had a far better layout that included 2 bedrooms and 2 baths (one of them an ensuite). Having the Entry as shown on the 845 s.f. unit makes it very difficult to turn this into a 2 bedroom unit.

  • Louis Pereira

    Oops! Sorry Doug – I should’ve done a refresh before posting so soon after yours. I think we had similar thoughts about making improvements to the 845 unit which also considered the option of a ‘home office’. I like the simple fix you made to include the Entry Closet thereby maintaining the existing kitchen

  • Doug Roberts

    Hi Louis — I was trying to make as few changes as possible, but I have to admit that I really like the way you made room for a combination laundry/pantry off the kitchen by replacing the existing bathroom/laundry closet with a more standard bathroom configuration.

  • Doug Roberts

    So I have fleshed my plan out a bit more. I liked the millwork that Louis put along the north wall so I have added something similar to my plan. The desk in my home office area would be counter-height and would use the same stools as the dining table/work surface, so that they could simply be moved over when more seating is needed at the dining table. There seemed to be quite a bit of open space between the kitchen and the home office so I went with a larger square dining table/work surface that could easily seat 8. I then decided to have a bit of fun and turned the south east corner of the unit into a billiards area, with two more of the same stools.

  • Doug Roberts


    Sorry, here is the fleshed-out plan.

  • jim baer


    WOW. OMG!

    my initial reaction was maybe the smaller one was better because of the bedroom’s closeness to the window. but once i started to layout furniture, the place seemed a real disaster!

    mostly, i think both are terrible and my advise would be….stop! turn around, go out….keep looking!

    so here are my thoughts. i am interested in seeing others thoughts / revisions

  • Frank

    Happy New Year to all.

    Louis, Doug, and Jim nice job on the revised layouts.

    John: I am wondering if the building codes used down here in the US don’t drive some of these unusual spaces and floor plans when designers and developers don’t do their homework early in the design process. They end up cutting spaces up late in the design process to get their building permits and these are some of the results.

    I don’t have my Uniform Residential Code (URC) or Uniform Building Code (UBC) memorized or handy right now but it seems to me there are specific requirements for access to light and ventilation in all habitable rooms based on a percentage of floor area (light 10 % and openable ventilation at 5 %). Bathrooms are exempt and that would explain all the wasted space in plan one that is dedicated to the bathroom. A code exemption is that rooms which have 50% of their wall area open to an adjoining space count as one space thereby explaining why the bedrooms are not close off with walls and doors. Another code requirement for enclosed bedrooms is that they must have egress windows.

    Anyway, probably way too much detail on code issues and constraints right now but they do have an influence on design when designers and developers take shortcuts to addressing design issues and don’t have clients in mind.

  • Frank

    Opps. I guess I am dating myself. Now it is the International Residential Code (IRC) and International Building Code (IBC) that are in use here in the US.

  • AndrewC

    Louis: I really like your design. My only minor suggestion – in an effort to get some light into the bedroom, put the closet on the east wall of the room and have some privacy glass wall on the west side (where the closest is now) to get some natural light into the room.

    Your design would be a wonderful way to live.


  • John Brown

    Welcome the site. Thoughtful comments – I am glad that you decided to join in.

  • John Brown

    You bring up a very good issue. I am reminded of the maxim that building codes specify the minimum amount you have to do to stay out of court. Too often, as you suggest, they become design guidelines. The result are buildings like the ones we are looking at here.

  • John Brown


    I really like your revision to the bathroom. It makes so much more sense to take a portion of the space for kitchen storage.

  • John Brown


    The big island is a good idea for a small space like this. Layering the kitchen island and the table into one piece can be very effective.

  • Jeanie


    Hello! I have been coming to the sight for a few days, and I am excited about what I’ve been learning. I didn’t know of a way to get properly sized furniture drawings to use in my diagram, so I just drew everything free-hand.
    I have made a continuous workspace for a computer area and built-in book-shelves for the public area.
    I have added a closet and replaced the old bedroom closet with an entertainment unit. The bed is a pull-out, doubling as a couch so that the room can read as a living room.
    I know I have a lot to learn, but I am looking forward to it!

  • Anonymous

    I really like some of the redesigns.

    Plan 1, the smaller one, looks hopeless to me. Way too much wasted space in the bathroom! What’s up with that dust collector nook next to the W/D? Also it looked like there was a lot of wasted circulation space between the living area and the bedroom/bathroom. The living room actually becomes quite small and I think would be hard to furnish.

    It’s strange that both kitchens are identical. Was there a sale on some pre-fab kitchen units that both builders took advantage of? Both kitchens could use an island — though you might consider making them more of a farm-house kitchen/dining with a table as the island.

    Both lacked storage. Though plan 1 at least had a front hall closet. Where in plan 2 do you put the broom or vacuum cleaner? I really appreciated the redesigns that added additional storage.

    Both plans insist that guests walk through the bedroom. In plan 2, you walked through as you entered. In plan 1, you walked through on your way to the bathroom. And both bedrooms were dark. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

    Plan 2 was the clear winner for me. Just moving the closet and a wall between the entry and the bedroom took care of the problem of guests entering into your bedroom, and let more light into the bedroom. With Doug’s or Louis’s additional storage, this could be a nice unit. I loved that Doug actually got a pool table in. :)

  • Cat

    Oops, I didn’t mean to post as Anon.

  • John Brown

    Welcome to the site. I am very impressed that your first post included a design proposal.

    I am sorry that you had trouble with the furniture. We typically include a set of drawing templates. For some reason it was missed for this exercise.

    I am glad to see that you undertook a redesign of the smaller unit. It certainly is a challenging space to work with. The idea of converting the bedroom into living space is quite radical. Do you think the idea of sleeping on a sofa bed would work in the long term? Another option would be to use a Murphy bed located on either the back wall of the kitchen or the short wall of the bedroom. That way there is a full size real bed that folds away when not in use.

    I look forward to your continuing participation on the site.

  • John Brown

    Good comment about the kitchen. I have seen this particular kind of half hearted L shape design in many new condo projects. The developer saves a few dollars by eliminating the island. The unfortunate result is that the kitchen is incomplete and opens too much into the living space. When an island is added after the fact it is very difficult to match the finish of the cabinetry.

  • Louis Pereira

    AndrewC – Thanks for the feedback and suggestion to flip the closet in the Bedroom. I suppose the result would be very similar to Doug’s plan which i think would work well. My rationale for keeping the existing closet was that i could focus (from a budgetary standpoint) on improving the upper portion of the plan. That said, perhaps there is the option to provide some kind of frosted glass wall along the Main Entry hall instead of the conventional partition wall that i proposed.

  • Mid Mo


    HI. been looking all day as I am new ignoring the other comments to see how I did. I also took my first stab with creating a plan on line (I am used to drawing on graph paper since I do this for a hobby- though people have tried to get me to move it online) and having an issues. I would go with unit 2.

    Unit 1 with 745 feet.
    Entry has plenty of closet space and the bedroom is a nice size with a great closet. The bath is large but dual purpose. What is wrong? Plenty. This the more fast of the two I think. Entry is too long and nothing we can do about that. The great room area is a mess. I think the living and dining area would be forced onto that east wall and be maybe a usable 10/12 feet out and 18 long to the terrace which feels narrow and hard to plan for. the terrace entry really should be by the bedroom to open up planning in the living more. Kitchen needs more counter space… why does it not end at entry and spread that triangle out a bit? The space in front of kitchen and to the master is awkward and seems unusable. The bedroom does not get much light and the pathway to the bath runs right in front of it. The bath door placement seems to be in an odd spot in the bedroom. Then the bath is huge with strange layout. Wasted space all over.

    How to clean it up with min. changes. Flip the closet in the bedroom to the outside wall. This creates more usable space in the bedroom. If we cannot move plumbing or major appliances. In the bath… I would put a wall up next to the toilet, take the walls off around the washer and let that be a washing area. Add a linen closet between vanity and tub. In the kitchen have them add more counter next to the fridge.. preferably by moving the fridge closer to the entry and adding in the middle. I would ask them to split that 24″ cab next to the stove into 2 -12″ and place stove in the middle (more room to prep). But the living will still feel tight. I would place a small dining table for 2 in that path, next to the window, to the bedroom.

    Unit 2 with over 800 feet.
    I like the east exposure, it does not feel tight. Entry feels open to the space. Feel like we can play with the furniture arrangement in the great room more. I figured you can put at least a table for 6 in there which is fantastic for the entertaining type. The bedroom size is fine. What needs to be addressed. No entry closet and you walk INTO your bedroom from the hallway (now that could be interesting!). Bath is too large with appliances too far apart causing space all over. Again we see dual purpose there with laundry. The space across from the kitchen on the north wall seems to be a waste.

    How to clean it up with min. changes. Add a wall between the bedroom and entry. You would have to shorten the closet to get an opening toward the windows and make sure no one in the kitchen gets a view into it. Place a linen closet in the bath between sink and toilet or if you could – shift the toilet and sink closer to the tub and throw in a door there. Add a closet where the sink was and take out that door. So the entry would feel open and with more function. In the kitchen have them add more counter next to the fridge.. preferably by moving the fridge closer to the entry and adding in the middle. I would ask them to split that 24″ cab next to the stove into 2 -12″ and place stove in the middle (more room to prep). Of course just throwing in an island would do wonders as well as this space can handle it. On the north wall outside the bedroom maybe add.. a closet, built in, or a spacious desk that the owner has.

    Hopefully I can post my ideas of BIG changes tomorrow and review other comments.

  • John Brown

    Mid Mo,
    A very nice first plan. Congratulations.

    The changes you made to the bathroom area make a lot of sense – creating an alcove with closet and w/d and a more reasonable shaped bathroom. Your suggestions improve things considerably and would be modestly priced. I think the only big downside in this scheme is the hallway entry that results from adding the bedroom wall (and of course the fact that the bedroom still doesn’t have any real natural light – but that is the big problem with this unit).