Small Units [was Diversity
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 5 Aug 2018 19:03:13 -0700 (PDT)
> On Aug 5, 2018, at 5:54 PM, Beverly Jones Redekop <beverly.jones.redekop [at] 
>> wrote:

> Build bachelor suites with tiny bathrooms and kitchenettes, but this shared
> kitchen bother is a source of endless friction and drama.

I think this is a great idea and would attract younger people to cohousing. The 
20-somethings who are not ready to buy anything. The small house movement has 
wonderful ideas for small spaces.

A private bathroom, I think, is important. But it doesn’t have to be large. The 
smallest I’ve seen was about 5 feet square. Basically an open shower with a 
toilet and sink in it. All tiled walls.

A refrigerator and a microwave. Bed could be a Murphy bed but I often work on 
my bed so wouldn’t put it away anyway.

One issue might be if there are too many people setting up shop in the CH. 
Sometimes other people might like to use it without the same three or even one 
person watching TV every evening of the month. So I would not play up “the CH 
is yours too” or allow them to take over the CH refrigerator. (We don’t allow 
private food to be stored in the CH refrigerator except in emergencies or 

On Google, the average studio apt is 400 sq ft. And that is the minimum size 
that can be built in Manhattan. Older studios were often smaller with one main 
room 12 x12 and a small kitchen and a small bathroom. My daughter had a studio 
on Washington Square Park that you had to enter sideways through a small door. 
Standing side ways you could sit on the toilet behind you or turn the water on 
in the sink in front of you. The size of the tub was the distance from the back 
of the toilet to the back of the sink—small. You had to step in sideways from 
your position between the toilet and sink.

What makes these prewar studios wonderful is that they were built and decorated 
like upscale apartments. The mini bathroom had matching turquoise fixtures with 
matching decorative tile. It felt rich. The rooms had high ceilings and unique 
molding. Decorative radiators. 

Another small studio we lived in in Chicago had a room 12 x 12, a bathroom with 
a dressing area and drawers and cabinets for clothes. And there was a walk-in 
closet 6x6 (?) with a safe. The kitchen was separate and not too small but 
wouldn’t have held a table. The whole thing was probably 650 SF. Again, it had 
high ceilings, a fireplace (no longer working), decorative moulding on the 
walls like Versailles. That makes all the difference. It felt grand.

If your larger spaces — 900 SF are selling for $300,000 that is $333+ SF. A 400 
sf studio would be $133,000 — possibly a bit more because of the ratio of 
bathroom and kitchen to SF. The plumbing is more expensive.

But one cohousing group I worked with in Florida was unable to get financing 
for anything smaller than a 2 bedroom. The banks said they had no resale value. 
And almost everyone who wanted a unit wanted a one bedroom. 

So it’s complicated.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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