Re: Unit SF [was Private home dishwasher: 18 vs 24 inch}
From: R Philip Dowds (
Date: Fri, 25 Oct 2013 11:54:25 -0700 (PDT)
I agree with Taryn Leigh's general assessment of size ranges below.  I've 
designed a lot of 400 sq ft apartment units, both 1 bdrm and studio, and would 
   •  Studios work better than 1 bdrm at this size, but you have to figure out 
how to handle the bed so it doesn't own the room.
  •  Storage is always an issue.  If you have more than a minimalist array of 
possessions, you may need a storage alcove in the basement, or else a custom 
designed stacking system from floor to ceiling.
  •  In-unit cooking should stay very simple, although you can get some pretty 
good Euro-style micro-appliances.  Cooking anything elaborate is more likely to 
happen in the common kitchen.

The unclimatized breezeway (the 8x8 3-season porch) sounds like a fun 
innovation, but watch out:  Economies of both construction and energy savings 
result in multi-family when the units pack close together, minimizing exterior 
walls, circulation, etc.  Separating them out as stand-alones could be more 
inefficient than single family homes.  If you want to send me a sketch plan, I 
might have additional input.

R Philip Dowds AIA
Cornerstone Village Cohousing
Cambridge, MA

Sent from my iPad

> On Oct 24, 2013, at 2:54 PM, "William C. Wood" <woodwc [at]> wrote:
> Just a few related questions about the possibility of a studio as small 
> as 410 sf:
> 1. Is there a good archive of cohousing floor plans somewhere out there 
> in the public domain?
> 2. Have you ever heard of connecting a modest number of individual units 
> to the common house through something like an 8 x 8 three-season, 
> acoustically isolating, porch on each unit?
> 3. And, just speculating, if you could add that 8 x 8 space to a 410 sf 
> space, would that significantly alleviate the size concern for such a 
> small studio?
> (from someone at the *very early* design stages of a *potential* project)
> Bill
> -- 
> William C. Wood
> woodwc [at]
> Message: 6
> Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2013 13:12:38 -0400
> From: Sharon Villines<sharon [at]>
> Subject: [C-L]_ Unit SF [was Private home dishwasher: 18 vs 24 inch
> To: Cohousing-L<cohousing-l [at]>
> Message-ID:<F149F371-4B86-4BD7-B567-DAE7BBBE2AAF [at]>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
>> On Oct 22, 2013, at 5:08 PM, Taryn Leigh<taryn_leigh [at]>  
>> wrote:
>> Studios: 410 SF
>> One bedrooms: 510 SF
> These are extremely small. Have you lived in units this small?
> Consider that this includes the walls, bathroom, kitchen, and closets. A 20' 
> by 20' room becomes very small when you begin extracting those from it. The 
> 510 SF would be much more spacious feeling as a studio. Our best floor plan 
> and most flexible apartment is 625 SF with a bedroom and a den/dining room.
> I've lived in a 500 SF studio. With one person it was nice but claustrophobic 
> when I was working at home. I did not have room for both a desk and a dining 
> room table. Windows on one side.
> With a bedroom, one room would have no windows.
> A 600 SF studio was significantly more livable.
> Assume ~150 SF for the bathroom, kitchen, and storage. 410 SF would be 260 SF 
> of open floor space. A 610 SF studio would have 460 SF of open space. 40% 
> more even though it is only 30% larger.
> My daughter had an apartment in Manhattan built before WWII that had a ~25 SF 
> bathroom. The toilet faced the sink just inside the door. The door was about 
> half the size of an accessible door. Even my thin daughter had to enter 
> sideways. Once inside you could sit or stand, or step sideways into the ~4' 
> tub. There was ~4 SF of floor space and some of that was under the sink. No 
> storage. It had beautiful fixtures in aquamarine and was tiled very nicely. 
> The tile was in perfect condition after 60+ years. It was good construction, 
> well designed. Not an alteration.
> That apartment was 450 SF. The kitchen was behind a narrow counter. The bed 
> was a futon couch.
> I'm all for small apartments but they can only get so small unless you live 
> in a city where people tend to eat out and entertain out. Their unit is a 
> hotel room.
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