Re: Common house design, rooms, and room sizes?
From: Kay Wilson Fisk (
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2015 11:46:33 -0800 (PST)
> > > We ( are in the
process of refining our common house design, trying to find
the right balance between usability and affordability. . . .

I shared my response with my community, invited their
responses, and received a request from Sandy to post her
response to my response, thus starting an important
conversation about how we might improve our facilities over
time. Sandy's response follows.
-- Kay Wilson, Meadow Wood Cohousing

This is a second opinion from Meadow Wood, 25 homes.  I am a
second generation resident, meaning that I was not part of
the original group that designed Meadow Wood.  I purchased
my unit because it is on the first floor and has no access
stairs. I have mobility issues and use a power chair to move
around the community.  While you may not currently have
anyone in your planning community who uses a wheelchair, I
suggest that you invite someone who uses one to check out
your plans and give you their input.  Meeting ADA
requirements for common spaces will not make you truly

I would suggest that you add more room than you think you
need, if possible, even if you leave some unfinished for
later assignment.

We have no gathering space for a group of more than 6 in a
casual "living room" atmosphere.  This limits our social
gatherings, which is ironic for a co-housing community.
Our great room is permanently set up for meals. It is great
not to have to change the setup for meals, but the space is
underutilized at other times.
The library is so "cozy" that it is cramped when we have
more than 6 people for a meeting.  If larger, it might be an
appropriate and comfortable gathering spot.  The gas
fireplace is lovely on chilly evenings.

Our children's room is okay for small children, but the
older kids really need an indoor activity space of their
own.  The older kids have taken the media room as their own
since the larger t.v. and video equipment were installed.
When it is rainy (often!) they use the media room or
children's room for boisterous activities that belong
elsewhere.  There is no dedicated space for school age and
teen activities.  It would be good to have another larger
space for activities that use energy from active kids.
The media room is too small to accommodate anything or
anyone else when the ping pong table is set up.

Many of our residents use the YMCA for exercise, but if your
residents are expressing an interest in a space for fitness,
I would go for it.  Our sports court is small and we have no
appropriate indoor location for physical activities. I,
personally, have been trying to figure out what to do with
my recumbent exercise bike.  I try to use it daily, but MW
has no place for it.

I hope this was helpful.  Your web site is very informative
and your community is exciting.  I wish you the best!
Sandy Gold
Meadow Wood Cohousing

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