Part 2 – 950 sqft Towhouse, Kansas

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

  • Jim Argeropoulos

    Excellent analysis.
    I hadn’t thought about how the stairs and the half bath had limited the availble space on the front wall.
    They didn’t even put windows in the stair well. How hard would that have been!
    Life in a cage.

  • Terri

    I wondered about the lack of windows in the stairwell and thought possibly that the unit adjoined another there. I’m not sure how this would work (some kind of perpendicular entry for the adjoining one?), but it just seems incredibly crazy to waste that southern light on a closed-in stairwell.
    With the small windows facing north on both floors, it seems like there’s not much to see or any privacy on that side either. I think the inhabitants might feel they’re dying a Slow Death here.

  • Paul C


    What’s Wrong…
    Some might say the existing home is representative of the design approach employed by cc housing. The “must have marketing/resale” elements (i.e. guest bath/breakfast bar) take precedence regardless of the impact they have on the livability/functionality of the home. As well, as so many have accurately stated, clearly the plan does not take advantage of its end unit position.

    An Alternative…
    If a guest bath is a necessity, maybe this could be an alternative. Storage could be under the stair landing/bath and the stairs leading from the landing to the upper floor could have open risers to permit light to filter through and be open underneath to the living. Exterior and interior clerestory windows and glazed walls would be utilized where appropriate. In my humble opinion, there is plenty of space in this home and I am not opposed to having the dining table “in” the kitchen for I think cabinets these days can be akin to furniture. A low bookcase in half of the opening, would help define the living/kitchen. Millwork is used extensively in the bedrooms for storage and to enhance the openness of the rooms, the millwork could stop short of the ceiling.

  • BradW

    Certainly, the unit can be completely redesigned in any number of ways all being better than the original. Also, if this amount of work was required you would never buy the the place. But what if you did own it and had to be reasonable about changing things…what then?

    I’d also like to thank John for flushing the main floor bathroom…I feel like real progress is being made here :). Seriously John, I hope you are enjoying China. Safe journey.

  • Louis Pereira


    What is about small spaces that bring out the ‘challenge’ in all of us.

    Ok, this may have been overkill, but there are ways to improve the layout that were screaming at me. I think simply re-adjusting the stair layout can help improve the overall layout, which happens to include a window at the landing. Reconfiguring the stairs illustrates that you can close off the Powder Room to the Dining areas by placing a closet in front of the main entry door.

    There are a number of options for the Kitchen and Dining as well…

    Does this mean i can take the day-off from tomorrow Design Project?… (;-{)>

  • Paul C

    Who doesn’t love small spaces!?! Can’t get enough of them.

    With respect to your proposals, my preference would be the(Terri) dining banquette version. I do wonder how well the upper floor comes together though, for by pushing the stairs farther into the middle of the plan upstairs, it may add to the difficulty in getting into the front bedroom.

    BTW, sorry no days off this week.

  • Louis Pereira



    Actually, it’s not so bad. When shifting the door north a bit at the top of the stairs, you can still gain entry to the front bedroom without too much retrofit of the second floor. The reconfigured stair did allow me to square-off that bedroom too.

  • Louis Pereira


    In keeping with the stair theme this week, i thought this project by Donald Chong had some relevance this exercise…

  • Leo


    That Donald Chong project is also a very good example of architecture for a very narrow space. For those of you who haven’t seen it, that picture is basically the entire width of the house!

  • Louis Pereira

    Paul – I finally had time late in the day to review your plan and comments. I admire how you challenge the notion of conventional use of space. I’m not certain if this Kansas Townhouse is marketed to mid-to-high income earners, or if it is considered affordable housing, but your plan demonstrates (unapologetically) how efficient the 950sq.ft. can be laid out in an efficient and practical way.

    I noticed the Study Desk under the upper stair run. I’m not sure if there would be enough headroom here but i would also consider turning the desk so that it is facing (south) toward the lower stair run.


    Leo – Yes, i agree the house by Donald Chong, called the “Galley House” is an excellent example of infill house design for narrow lots. Admittedly, it was the first thought that came to mind when i saw the stairs with no window in today’s WWWTH. I would estimate that the width of this house is less than the Kansas Townhouse.

    Below is a link to slideshow of the project in case others haven’t seen it…

  • Paul C

    The upper floor worked out well although, bedroom one’s closet does appear a little shallower than the typical 24” inside dimension but that’s not a big deal. (if I am guessing that right) Adjusting the stairs and getting that “corner” out of the front bedroom has definitely improved the situation.

    There are so many great details both inside and out with the Galley House. Thanks for the link.

  • James Scott

    Sorry to chime late on this one but did anyone think of adding stairs to the outside and making the landing the entry point?


  • Terri

    Reconfiguring the stairs to be outside or include windows seems like a slightly futile exercise when we’re not sure where units are attached to this one–exactly. Of course, who am I to ruin the fun?

    I like your suggestions, Paul and Louis.
    Paul, That powder room partway up seems like an inspired idea to me–talk about a throne! ;)
    Moving the closet as you did, Louis, works well to define the kitchen while directing traffic through to an open living space. Love the banquette version (of course!), only it’d be nicer if it was by a window…

    BTW, this banquette obsession of mine seems to be timely, as I discovered a month ago with this little piece in the Globe and Mail: