Building upwards, instead of across, creates architectural opportunities for more than just additional bedrooms and bathrooms. A double-height entry or living area feels very expansive even if its actual square footage is quite modest. And simply raising the ceiling can help a great deal. Plan 909-6
by Hive Modular
is a one-story home that feels airy with a vaulted ceiling and strategic row of clerestory windows.
This particular design is really nice on the inside -- it doesn't feel narrow at all," says Asmus. The 2-bed, 2-bath home is 25 feet wide, and has architectural personality as well as a sense of spaciousness.
San Francisco architect David Baker
designed his own home with a tiny footprint -- only 20 feet wide and 26 feet deep -- but made it feel very spacious with a loft level.
Baker's 700 sq. ft. Zero Cottage combines the living, dining, and kitchen on the ground floor, and the bedroom and bathroom are in a loft above.
The compact dwelling is also a certified net-zero-energy home, which is another reason to build upwards in general: A two-story house takes less energy to heat and cool than a single-story home of the same square footage. If aging in place is a concern, a design can be reworked to include a bedroom and bath on the ground level. (Photography by Matthew Millman and courtesy Greensource Construction)
You may be able to do without a garage, but if you are planning to have one, it's important to figure this out as right away. "Vehicular access, parking, and garage location are critical with narrow lot sites, and these need to be resolved at the earliest stage as they have has an immediate impact on the design configuration," says architect Leon Meyer of Leon Meyer Architects in Melbourne, Australia, who has
substantial expertise with infill homes. Meyer's Linacre Plan 496-1
puts the garage below
grade, under the front of the 46 foot-wide house. The main floor layout progresses from front
to back while the major living spaces deftly incorporate a terrace and a deck in the side yard.
For a narrow home with a garage out in front, consider Plan 901-25
, which won an Editor's Choice award from Fine Homebuilding
magazine, is shown at the top of this post, and here.
The 3-bedroom, 2-bath home integrates a one-car-wide garage beautifully into a traditional design.
But the ideal situation is a lot with an alleyway, which saves the front street for pedestrians and prevents the "garagescape" designs of modern suburban developments. Some of the newest developments follow the guidelines of New Urbanism and have brought back traditional alleyways. In Plan 900-6
, designed by
C3 Studio for a new community in Knoxville and modeled after Charleston's traditional side-yard homes, the 2-car garage is tucked away at the back of the 23 foot-wide house and designed to be accessed from an alleyway.