Part 2 – Fernandez Residence, Ontario

Part 2 – Fernandez Residence, Ontario (PDF)

  • John Brown


    This is the completed concept design for the Fernandez residence.

  • James Scott

    A couple quick thoughts,

    First is that when you are near the main door to a condo/apartment you can hear a pin drop out in the hallway. Other doors opening and closing, people and pets, etc. coming and going. Is there enough of a “buffer” between the suite and the other residents and their activities? To me the bedroom is right beside the hallway and I can’t see that as being restful.

    Secondly, the washer and dryer, as convenient as it is to have one en suite, I’m betting a honey cruller donut that the building has laundry facilities on site. Is it really that necessary? If you had to lug to the corner laundry that’s one thing, but if the facilities exist, that’s another. As well older buildings may not allow the inclusion of a washer and/or dryer within the units since the plumbing may not be able to handle the extra load.

  • Jim H

    I agree with James on the washer/dryer issue. This is a very small space. The tenant would be better served using the on-sight facilities and not giving up the floor area. The W/D dominates the kitchen. Possibly add a surface mounted sliding door to conceal the W/D?

    The bath entrance forces circulation thru what I consider a private area (or semi-private in a loft unit). This may be a non-issue to the client. The owner should consider guests staying overnight may be in-and-out of the bedroom during the night.

    Fun design exercise!

  • Brad W


    I wondered if I could achieve the feel of John’s plan while staying in a tigher budget.

    First of all, the demolition is not as extensive. I removed only the L-shaped kitchen wall to open up the space. New kitchen cabinets, counters and appliances are installed moving only the stove very slightly. The kitchen could be changed as per John’s plan to accommodate a washer/dryer. Hardwood floor is installed throughout the living and kitchen space. In the bathroom, only the sink is relocated. All fixtures, tiles and flooring is updated. The door location is changed. The bedroom flooring is updated in the same hardwood used in the living space. The major change here is an opening cut in the bedroom wall allowing additional south light to penetrate the living space. The unit is completely repainted. New window coverings and furniture complete the renovation.

  • Murray

    Hello All,

    I found this a challenging exercise – the client had a lot on her wish list for a small space. I was also interested to see laundry included in many plans, something I think is desirable, but absent from the client’s list of needs.

    I enjoyed seeing the various solutions, and felt many were more successful than was mine (basically a variation on the same themes already presented). My plan included a wall separating the bedroom from the rest of the space for structural reasons, which somewhat defeated the client’s desire for a loft-like space.

    This leads me to an engineering-type question/concern. Does this space need some sort of internal supporting feature such as a wall or column/s? Is the expanse small enough for this not to be a concern? Is the unit on the top floor? John, possibly your central millwork feature serves this purpose(?).

    Being neither an architect nor an engineer I am curious to learn about this aspect of construction and design.

    Thanks for your response.

  • Brad W

    The washer/dryer can be very discreet – note the MichaelG posting yesterday.

  • John Y

    Nice plan, John. I’d sketched something similar to this out early — the big difference being that I had two doors into the bathroom (one door where it exists at present and one where you have it), mostly to cut down on guests having to go through the semi-private bedroom section.

  • James Scott


    Here’s another variation trying to maintain the buffer from the public hallway as I mentioned in my earlier post today.

    There’s more storage as well and two entrances to the bathroom. Possibly there is enough flexibility to place the kitchen centrally. I’ve terminated the hall closet to allow a feature in the north corner, but that can easily be extended. Sliding doors throughout the unit to ease movement and the kitchen counter does double duty as dining space.

    An over sized sliding door to the bedroom can help visually open up the space as well as providing privacy when needed.

  • Paul C


    Great ideas and discussion on this small unit. Admit ably these attached options take some liberty with the mechanical. (although I recall a few exercising ago whereby I believe the bath or kitchen (not sure which one) was relocated to where the other existed.) In any event here are some additional ideas to add to the discussion. Although not depicted in these options, what might be kind of cool…what if the demising glass wall between the living and bed area was fixed with the components of the living/bed areas being movable such that one would be able to change things up now and then just to refresh the unit.

  • Terri

    I originally had openings on either end of the bedroom closet just as John Brown has done, but I decided that it made the space open but also a bit “chopped up” so I opted for a larger opening on the one side. Similarly, the bathroom door got moved off the north bedroom wall to create a little more privacy for guests using it (some people might feel “odd” about going through the end of someone else’s bedroom.

    I like the washer/dryer option that Brad points out from MichaelG’s plan yesterday. Yet, I kind of like the idea of the laundry just a little separate from the main part of the bathroom.

    Many of the plans have included small tables in an L-kitchen. I’m not sure that adheres to a loft look, does it? Seems kind of old-fashioned to me…

  • John Brown

    That is a very good point about the implication of placing the bed next to the hallway. I suppose there are some technical fixes involving a second sound deadening wall just inside the unit but…

  • John Brown

    A good discussion about in suite laundry facilities. For convenience, security and privacy, most of the clients we have worked with – particularly single women – prefer to not have to go to a communal facility in the building. I can also understand the point about devoting space to something that already exists outside the unit. My sense is that many people were able to accommodate it relatively seamlessly. I particularly like the idea of locating under the bathroom vanity.

  • John Brown

    I like your minimalist approach to the project this week. What you suggest achieves much of my scheme and is perhaps the fallback position if costs were too high.

  • John Brown

    Do you think that the added buffer space makes the living area too small?

  • John Brown

    Switching the bathroom is an interesting option. It certainly makes for a better kitchen. I like the way it now faces into the unit. Of the two schemes my preference is for the “bed in the middle” version. Do you think that there is enough room to get the living area, bedroom, and bath all along that one wall?

  • John Brown

    In a unit this size my expectation would be that the exterior walls are load bearing but not the interior partitions. None of the spans would be so excessive as to require an intermediary support. The existence of a plumbing stack (or two)in the walls servicing the other units above and below is a much greater possibility and could impact the final layout.

  • James Scott


    John – I certainly did think about the living space being too small or tight in my second submission, than again maybe this will work.

    Why does the bedroom have to get so much space if the living and kitchen areas are the priorities. Maybe a sleeping nook would work?! There is still a buffer, makes good use of a small space, can be opened when needed and hidden when not used. With the mill-work there is still plenty of space for storage and personal effects.

  • Doug Roberts


    John — Like James I feel that you have devoted too much of the very limited amount of space in this unit to the bedroom. The bed almost looks lost in the bedroom, whereas the living room seems tight. My preference would be to reverse this allocation of space — make the bedroom snug (although maybe not “single bed snug” as James is suggesting) and add the freed-up space to the living area. In this regard I have modified the plan I posted yesterday to incorporate a separate, but snug, bedroom using the “wall at the foot of the bed” concept that I posted a few weeks ago (see image). I also liked Paul’s idea of relocating the door to the balcony to make the corner of the living room more functional, so I incorporated that as well. Finally I shortened my kitchen counter slightly to create a place to store extra chairs for the counter-height table/island when not entertaining.

  • Brad W

    I often find it interesting that a client will buy an old home and say they want a contemporary reno. Or, in this case, an apartment in an older building and say they want a loft-like reno. In many cases, what they are asking for is a feeling and not a strict implementation. In this design exercise, just opening up the kitchen will provide a loft inspired layout the client is looking for. Combined with contemporary, mid-century or even art deco inspired fixtures and furnishings, the client’s dream apartment can be achieved and remain in context with the building and neighbourhood.

  • Kelly

    James Scott makes a goodpoint about the bedroom size. I’m single in a one-bedroom apartment, and the bedroom is only for sleeping (etc). It doesn’t need to be a retreat since there’s no one to retreat from. When no one is there, she could just lave the whole thing open. And if she wanted a bigger bed, some of the LR millwork at the end could work for clothing. His plan also allows plentry of room in the kitchen for one of those u/c washer/dryer units.

    Regarding the necessity of having laundry in the unit- YES! My concern is not so much for safety, but for the pain-in-the-buttness of having to work your laundry schedule around other people and worrying about theft. Maybe I just don’t like to share, and why make the client if she can afford the nice upgrade that she’s saved for?

    Paul C’c plan was also interesting, with only a single kitchen wall but with a dining table that, if made counter height, could function as a work surface island. The pantry storage is a nice addition even though she doesn’t have many tchotkes. At the least she could stick a suitcase n a shelf at the top. The “what if she has a dinner party” issue is resolved, adn she still gets a nice desk seperate from the kitchen (opt one).

    Sorry about the lurking, but I love the site and seeing all the creative solutions from everyone, esp. when they include products I haven’t seen before. Thanks to all!

  • MichaelG

    How high are the ceilings? Is there potential for a loft bed over storage or the bathroom?

  • James Scott

    This just in,

    CBC’s “As It Happens” ( just interviewed the realtor of NYC’s skinniest house. On the market for a cool $2.75 million.

    Here’s a link I picked from the internet.

    When talking about the attributes the agent being interviewed said the nice thing about this house is it isn’t a cookie cutter home. I bet he frequents this site.

  • Paul C

    Not sure I would want to host a Grey Cup party in this unit but then again it might be a hoot.

    Regarding your dimensional question, no question that placing all three uses along that wall leaves minimal amount of room in each (excepting the bathroom which is the standard 5 foot (1.5m) width. The furnishings depicted in the living and bed spaces are NOT apartment size and so that plays against the goal of trying to make the spaces feel larger. In small spaces like these, employing built-ins to some extent helps. In addition where definition of space is needed or used, if there can be some transparency to the definition (such as a translucent glass wall that stops short of the ceiling and the floor) may be effective ways or having those two horizontal planes continue past the glass wall thereby making it feel larger. Wall hung base cabinets, wall hung w.c. etc, can also help in that regard.

    I like small spaces and how they constantly challenge the designer to be creative. Some creative examples at the following links:

    Click on the slide show associated with this article

    Again click the slide show, I especially like this one. If one has the ceiling height. (as mentioned by Michael G.)

    One last observation. I think it is great that the majority of the designs (not all mind you) depict the bedroom away from or not accessible to the bathroom. Not that it would not be a nice feature to have but I say this for in the typical cc approach, having the bathroom accessible from the bedroom would be seen as an all important marketing feature and thereby would garner more “weight” in determining the final design. I think the many who have posted plans here have proven this is a flawed approach to design for it stifles creativity and rules out the many other possible better solutions.

  • MichaelG


    I’ll see your Manhattan house and raise you these two. I used to see them walking to the station from my then girlfriend, now wife’s old apartment. Personally, I’d take the one in West Village, but not for $2.75mm! Nice find James.

  • MichaelG

    Paul C, nice examples. I’ve never seen a loft bed over the kitchen before as in “big city little loft”. One of the commenters on dwell mentioned about venting the range. Would be an interesting challenge.
    Nice and creative examples, inspiration for another go at this project. But not sure about the kids bedroom in “a narrow victory”. Would be claustrophobic. Theres another off-topic conversation about children in tiny urban spaces, but I wont go into that…

  • Joe C

    While I disagree with most of the comments and designs, I do respect the effort that everyone has put forth. The majority of these layouts would simply not work.

  • Scott

    Hi John,
    I am new to this, but my problem with living in a loft space like this in Manhattan was that I was sleeping with refrigerator noise and that was quite unpleasant. Because I was renting, and not renovating, I put the fridge in the bathroom and slept well despite visitor jokes. In any case, would there be a way to isolate the noise of the fridge and still keep the loft feel?

  • John Y

    Joe C,

    I’d like to hear more about what you think would and wouldn’t work — I like to get input from as many places as possible.