Part 1 – 950 sqft 2 storey Townhouse, Kansas

950 sqft Townhouse, Kansas (PDF)
950 sqft Townhouse, Kansas (JPEG)

  • Steve

    First, a question for the group: How do you interpret the plan as to its connection to other units? Given the door and window placements, would you assume this townhouse only shares the west wall?

    I’m trying to make sense of the living room window, which suggests this is an end unit. But then it has a bathroom over it with a plumbing wall, which you’d expect to be shared. Maybe I don’t need to know “Why?” before critiquing the plan, but I’d like to give the planner some benefit of the doubt.

  • Leo


    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head with what’s wrong with this unit. It is probably an end unit, but they have not taken advantage of the free wall to let in light.

  • James Scott

    I guess you have to know who this housing was designed for in the first place. Single parent with one child, student housing, low income housing like a shelter, who knows?

    Storage is lacking, light is poor, very cramped living space downstairs and a real maze of closets and doors upstairs. This is by no means long term accommodations.

    This would also be a poor place to heat and cool, absolutely no cross ventilation on the main floor unless the front door is left open. This house gives me a very unhealthy feeling.

  • James Scott

    Just to add one more thing, I agree there is a lost opportunity to add more light and air from the East wall, but really, whether an end unit or infill the problems remain the same.

  • Terri

    In addition to the light and ventilation deficiencies and the lack of storage, the layout is needlessly convoluted. John mentions the staircase as being narrow, but my first thought was that it was awfully wide in relation to the width of the unit. It seems to take up close to 8 ft. in width. (I get this number by surmising that the powder room is 3 ft wide, the minimum for such a space usually.)A straight run would have been more efficient in this narrow of a dwelling.

    The placement of the staircase also impedes upon the lower floor, making movement pass through the centre of the living room and the edge of the dining. Similarly access to the back is awkward.

    The entry lacks a closet, and the powder room door allows a clear view of the toilet from the living room should the door be left ajar.

    One note: I printed this plan out and see that there’s a balcony above the entry for bedroom 1, which would be nice since it’s south exposed. But the bedroom is very oddly sharped and getting to the balcony would be a bit convoluted, plus there’s little privacy next to the stairs. Bedroom 2, on the other hand, is a good shape but is hindered by a tiny north-facing window. The bathroom upstairs has no vanity to speak of, and the linen closet would be susceptible to the damp even with the door closed.

  • Steve


    I agree with Terri that a straight-run stair would have been more space efficient, but then other accommodation would need to be made for the doorway to Bed 1. A balcony over the entry is a nice thought, though unexpected in this plan.

  • Steve


    Let’s try this …

  • Elizabeth

    The position of the front door (and stairs) and kitchen eating bar means all traffic to kitchen travels through the centre of the living room. Maybe if the kitchen were on the other side of the room, or if it were a galley style, the dining area could fit along one long wall more easily, and traffic could flow around living rm seating area.

    North bedrm has a tiny closet, othe bedrm has tiny window.

    Seems as though there must be a way to gather W/D and other mechanicals on the joining wall to make room for a decent window or 2 on the west side.

  • jim baer

    i think everyone has hit most of the problems on the head. i.e. poor access to south light, no exploitation of the east wall for light & air, poor circulation, warren of tiny rooms, odd room shapes, etc….

    i think though that this is john’s introduction to how stair placement and configuration can affect the plan. and in this plan it manages to screw it up in many ways!

    all of which have been alluded to already. i.e. poor access to south light, poor circulation, warren of tiny rooms, odd room shapes, etc….

    terri, i think you are right that a straight run stair would help. but more that that it needs to be more towards the middle of the west wall. this will give the living room and the front bedroom access to the south light, will help regularize the shape of both rooms and will maybe tame the circulation some.

    steve, nice job on the analysis over the plan.

    john, could we get a graphic scale on these plans? it would help in determining room sizes and in sketching alternate layouts. thanks

  • jim baer


    how ’bout this?

  • Robert Bierma

    I was thinking for a redesign that some open riser stairs on the east wall. with the east wall in that section being all glazing and the treads being made from maybe some light colored wood. the treads would act as light selfs and bring lots of natural morning light into the townhouse

  • BradW

    1. Flush the main floor bathroom in favour of a closet…space is too small to have more than one bathroom.
    2. Cleanup the kitchen…get rid of the peninsula and line things up against a wall.
    3. Move the mechanicals…surely the offending box upstairs can be put in a better place.
    4. Bring out your dead…convert hallway and other wasted space into living space
    5. Light it up…larger/more windows please.
    6. Focus…give me a focal point on the main floor.
    7. Two minutes for interference…doors should play nice.

  • jim baer


    another thought

  • Steve


    I like the idea of moving the stairs to the long west wall and opening this place up (great ideas, Jim). But this time around I decided to work with the given placement of windows and mechanical (except the mysterious flue) to see what could be done with a more limited budget (though moving plumbing is never cheap).

    The primary change I’ve made is enlarging the front entry and rejigging the first few steps going upstairs. This used some of the wasted landing area and allowed for a more comfortable Bedroom 1. I used the space over and under the stairs for closet and storage — not ideal access, but this stair placement is a challenge. The rest is just rearranging the pieces to open up the space, reconcile the unruly doors, and create more storage. Thanks for the great ideas, all!

  • Terri

    I’m torn between your two plans. I like the way you dealt with the laundry and mechanicals upstairs in plan 1. There’s good privacy for the bedrooms with the closet positions. But the coat closet at the bottom of the stairs isn’t as central to the door as your closet in plan 2. The central stair is nice in plan 2. I imagine that instead of a table under those stairs, some kind of millwork might be good, providing entertainment storage on the living room side and other storage on the dining room side.

    I admire your ambition to try and not disturb the major elements with your plan. The living room at the back is nice, and the flow to the back door is good. I feel the kitchen is a little too cramped and open to the living room. When I look at the overall plan’s allocation of space, though, it seems that the entry and passage to the stairs uses a lot of floor space, space that the kitchen could use.