simple house floor plan
You can click on the plan to view

Today is the 2nd installment of 24 articles in our year-long series called “The Simple House Project.” Every 2 weeks, we will publish an article or video covering the process from start to finish. From permits, plans, and construction of the exterior, to the complete interior finish – we hope to document the challenges, trials and tribulations of creating a simple house that is extremely cost-effective, energy-efficient and earth-friendly – using only the space we truly need to live comfortably.

Let me first say that we loved all of the comments and suggestions after our first segment two weeks back. The response so far has been amazing, and it makes us realize how many people out there are really looking at downsizing and living larger – with less! As we have said from the beginning of this project – finding the “perfect small-house design” will be different for each and every person – and by sharing our ideas – we hope to inspire others to find theirs.

 Simple House Floor Plan
The Weaver Barns Cedar Brooke home that will serve as the base model for our “Simple Home”

Today’s segment is all about creating a simple house floor plan!

The simple fact is that if you really want to downsize – you DO have to make cuts somewhere in livable space. For us – we chose to eliminate those we don’t use at all – like our current living room, dining room and unused bedrooms. In addition, we cut down on room sizes that seem to eat up a lot of unused space for no reason at all – like bedrooms. Take for instance most of today’s master bedroom plans that create “sitting areas and wide open spaces”. For us, we just wouldn’t use them – so we eliminated that space from our plan.

At a whopping 1056 square feet of main floor space, and an additional 200 or so square feet of loft space – our floor plan doesn’t exactly exude “castle-like” dimensions. But by planning out the space we have to fit our needs – we feel like it is more than enough to do everything we could ever want – without breaking the bank.

The Kitchen / Living Area

We knew more than anything else we wanted a big combined space for the kitchen and living area for The Simple House.

Our current home’s set-up of a large combined kitchen and family room space has worked really well for us – and it is where we spend nearly all of our waking hours. It is where we prepare and eat our meals, talk, read, visit and entertain – and the new plan makes full use of that.

There are a lot of storage ideas we will carry over to the new house design – like Mary’s pull out spice drawer set-up!

In reality – we will actually gain space in that area – going from our current home’s set-up of 16′ wide x  34′ long family room / kitchen area (544 sq. feet), to the Simple House design which will be 24′ wide x 30′ long (720 sq. feet). There are also a lot of windows to add to the openness, including a double set of glass doors that will open from the living space out onto the porch that overlooks the farm below.

The kitchen and living space are completely joined and a part of each other so that we can talk, prepare meals and visit with guests, all without feeling cramped. We will add a large prep island to the kitchen area and small 3′ x 5′ kitchen table as well – which will give us plenty of room to enjoy meals and company – and the large open space of the two rooms will allow for set-up of additional tables if ever needed for a large dinner.

With the large size of the open room - we can even bring in our barn table to host a big meal if needed :)
With the large size of the open room – we can even bring in our barn table to host a big meal if needed πŸ™‚

This set-up completely eliminates two wasted rooms of our current home – our living room and dining room – but still allows us the option for a huge space if needed to entertain.  Less upkeep, less to heat and cool – and of course – less cost to build!

Eliminating Space Challenging Doors…

One of the biggest challenges of a smaller home is what to do with doors – if they swing out – they can block the hallway. If they swing in – they can eat up floor space in the smaller rooms. So we simply eliminated them and replaced the interior openings with sliding barn doors and pocket doors.

Not only do we think they will fit the farm and house theme perfectly – the large openings to our bedroom and bathroom will be more than wide enough to accommodate handicap accessibility if ever needed. The sliding doors can also easily be made to be push button operated if ever necessary.

The Back of The House – Bedroom / Bathroom /Laundry Room and Mechanical Room

The back of the house plan is an extremely simple design with a single hallway that leads off of the kitchen and sliding barn door access to the bedroom, bathroom and laundry room. We have also included a space-saving pocket door design to enter the mechanical / storage room area at the back of the house.

Much like we did when we built these reclaimed our barn - we will build our barn doors for the house
Much like we did when we built these reclaimed our barn – we will build our barn doors for the house

The bathroom will have a very large walk in shower – that is also handicap accessible . The plan currently shows a double sink – but we will most likely take that down to one – realizing we just don’t need two sinks.  We can then use that space for a small closet or rack for linens and bathroom supplies.

The laundry room will have space for the washer / dryer and a much-needed utility sink – along with a space for an upright freezer. That is a must for us for storing goods from the garden! At the very back of the house – we did add-on a small utility and mechanical room to keep the main floor plan open.

At 14′ x 10′ – the master bedroom may seem small to most – but for us it fits the bill. We really don’t need massive unused space in the room – and it is more than large enough to accommodate any size bed. We still have enough room for a couple of built-in closets, and will utilize the back of the steps for additional bedroom closet space.

Adding to an open feel – the room will have a double set of french doors that open out to the porch that overlooks the farm – which is more than enough to keep both of us happy!

The loft space will be used as an extra bedroom / office space for now – but will also have knee wall storage down both sides for long-term storage.

And that – the Simple House Floor plan has taken shape!  Your thoughts????

Happy Building! – Jim and Mary

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28 thoughts on “The Simple House Floor Plan – Making The Most Of A Small Space

  • June 5, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    I live just down the road from you. In 2010 our house burnt down so we had to decide what kind of house we wanted pretty quickly. We decided in a post frame house with metal siding and roof. We love it!! Of course there are thing we want to change like pocket doors or sliding door. since it is post frame, there are no interior load bearing walls. We could put rooms anywhere. If you want to see our house you are welcome to come down. It helped us to see other post frame houses before I sat down to draw the plans. Good luck with building. Dealing with licking permits and inspections was a pain. If you are in licking be prepared for delays due to this.

  • May 22, 2016 at 6:24 pm

    looks sweet! there aren’t enough kitchen cabinets and counter spaces for me πŸ™‚ also, i’m not sure a king size bed would fit in the bedroom space; that may be fine for you but i’ve gotten rather spoiled to one! love the loft space! wish we had tall enough ceilings to have one, but we’re working with an existing building. can’t wait to see the progress πŸ™‚

  • May 22, 2016 at 11:08 am

    Love the look of your house, and love the picture of the big table for big family meals…but there would be no leg room along the long sides because of the diagonal braces.

  • May 10, 2016 at 9:52 am

    I live in a really small city apartment (48sq ft), and it’s more than I need. But wouldn’t mind to have that kind of barn to go to on weekends! πŸ˜‰

  • January 19, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    We left an 1800 sq ft house 3 years ago and are in 868 sq foot cottage in the mountains. Only thing I am missing is a pantry. Look forward to seeing your future posts

  • December 26, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    I will say that I am ready to do the smaller space thing as well. I have lived in big houses and small. I prefer less is more. I am tired of the overwhelming responsibility of all the work and no enjoyment of ownership!

  • December 16, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Looks like you’ve got this. I love your home design. I will be following your blog for sure. I have been watching the “Tiny House” movement for several years now and as both my husband and I are approaching our 70’s those just don’t seem practical at all for us. Almost 10 years ago, we sold our 1600sf home in the Burbs and moved into an RV to live and travel in. Its been a lot of fun but we are starting to slow down on the travel part quite a bit now. Who knows what the future holds for us, but I would love to continue following your blog as you move forward.

  • November 28, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    Have a great journey! There are always surprising turns. Ours certainly went in a different direction than we ever expected. Instead of being small it became large as we built to house senior adult foster care residents starting some twenty years ago. Even so, we still enjoy the country life and share many of your values.

    I am a new reader but I will be a regular I am sure. I came in response to a post you wrote over two years ago on gardening without weeds. Gardening is my favorite activity and I love your approach. It is very much what I am aiming at myself. This fall I relocated and added to my raised beds with a goal of making all permanent bed and path locations with the intention of never stepping of my planting areas again.

    Good success with your new home. I hope you will enjoy the journey, and you will as long as you look at problems and just part of the process. It may take longer than you expect, perhaps not; for us the initial basic unit took two years. But it is great fun to plan and build.

  • November 24, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    I would want to draw up the master bedroom on a program that allows you to drop furniture in place. If you put built in closets along one wall, there is a window on a second wall and French doors on a third wall, that leaves only one wall upon which you can put your bed. I know this because we have this in our current homes MBR (actually worse because their is a door to a 3/4 bath on the 4th wall). We ended up putting the bed under the window and it is okay, but I don’t really like it. Our house was new when we bought it (2003). It was built by the local Vo-Tech students and moved to the site. It has energy efficient windows… and I still find it cool in the winter. Our house faces north so we are in the line of high, cold winter winds.

  • November 23, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I assume you are planning on continuing to can. One thing I have noticed in my house is the heat from the canner becomes stifling in the kitchen. We have started using the screened porch for the canner in the summer. Plus, the canner and large pans do not fit into the sink. I do not see a utility sink in your floor plan. It really comes in handy – either next to the laundry where there is already water, or in your canning kitchen. I understand you are trying to have a simple plan, but the realities of processing your own food demand a lot of space and special requirements.

  • November 23, 2015 at 11:41 am

    I think I would expand the mechanical room to the back wall of the house and push your mechanical items to the back. Add an exterior entrance and make that a mudroom. Being on a farm, it would be a great space for a landing zone for boots, coats, etc. You could also add extra shelving for canned goods and bulk items. It wouldn’t add that much square footage to the overall number and I think it would be used everyday. Good luck and happy planning!

  • November 22, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    I had a hallway washer & dryer, no sink (would be nice), and across from that, a built-in counter to fold clothes on, with drawer and door storage underneath. [I don’t see a place for a freezer]. You would really like such a countertop, somewhat lower so you don’t lift your arms as much to fold, but finding the room – could you move everything down 2′ on that side? Also suggest pedestals if you get front-loaders. There’s a trend toward top-load again, front loaders really don’t clean as well in my experience (age 73) plus they are larger. Gas dryers dry quicker at much less cost and are easier on your clothes. They have come a long way since the old days. As you get older you can’t reach into those front=loaders w/o pedestals, with arthritis in your back or shoulders (I know). Paint the base of the kitchen island a fun color like soft turquoise! or spring green! Put locking casters on the island! Put shelves between two studs anywhere there is not electrical or plumbing running thru, just drywall and use leftover wood as shelves, painted or stained. Stack of them up a wall are great anywhere. Perfect Mason jar size. or cosmetics or bathroom supplies, angel collections, whatever, wherever they are placed. I would put storage everywhere you see a place. Windowseats w/built-in bookcase(s) each side, doors, shelves as needed, or both; storage under the seat: Linen closet. Hampers. Books. Sewing & craft? Tools. Opposite season clothes. Y’all have both feet on the ground, you will do well. Test: Picture yourself doing tasks when looking at the plan. See what you need where. Love your house.
    Vicki K

  • November 22, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    I am glad to see you putting in handicap accessible doors & fixtures before you need them. I have had to remodel bathrooms that were built knowing there were handicapped people who were going to be living there just because the arcitech did not think ahead .what looks good on paper may not be worth a darn in real life.

  • November 22, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    If this is truly for a farm or even rural area, then you will experience mud. All homes to me no matter how small or large need a heated and functional mud room that will allow the mud to stay out of the main house, boots and other outerwear to dry and keep separate from non-at home wear clothing. A deep sink, tile or linoleum, coat closets with drawers, and a place to sit are essential.

  • November 22, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    How will you be heating/cooling your home? Geothermal, solar, gas, firewood? Just curious.

  • November 22, 2015 at 11:55 am

    Also, where will guests &, more importantly, grandchildren sleep?

  • November 22, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Do you currently use an upright freezer? For me, a chest type works best–I have both, and the upright doesn’t hold the food without freezer burn like the chest type. I have friends with the upright who would never get one again, and if I had to choose, I would use the chest type for that reason alone…though the upright SEEMS like it should be easier at get at your
    stash..just wondering if you have used that kind yet, so you don’t regret it.

  • November 22, 2015 at 11:53 am

    Do you have an outhouse & somewhere to wash up outside?
    If you do not, perhaps an extra door at the back of the house would be nice. As it is, there is no way to get to the bathroom without crossing through the kitchen!

    This freezer you mentioned in the laundry “room”…… do you mean that it will be in the mechanical room? It doesn’t look as though there is enough room in the hallway without significantly blocking it.

    Looking at the bedroom, with the double doors opening in, you are limited in terms of where the bed can go, especially since you have not included closets on the plan.
    No closet in the kitchen either for broom & mop pail, etc.
    No closets at all, not even one near the front door – where will you put your boots, shoes, coats, hats, coveralls, etc?

  • November 22, 2015 at 11:05 am

    As you build, have you considered weekend workshops on very phases? They certainly helped Tom Sawh and get his fence painted!

  • November 22, 2015 at 10:46 am

    I think I would eliminate the hallway and add big old doors to cover the laundry area or add the laundry into the bathroom space. A simple decorative movable screen could be used to shield the bedroom area when guests come and need the bathroom. The hall is a lot of square footage for no good purpose.

    I like open spaces. It’s easier to move furniture and to clear. I’d also never again have a two story house. I’m retired now and the stairs are getting difficult, especially if I want to move or replace furniture.

    Perhaps a tiny bed alcove could be added to the living room for guests. When not needed, it could be a reading nook if built in shelves are added at the head and foot. A nice large window and I’d be all set.

    I’ve been thinking about moving and building a home soon. I want to have two of these bump out bedrooms in it. Drawers below the bed platform and a closet between the two bed areas.

    Pocket doors could hide the beds and possibly the closet entrance and provide a clean wall when company comes (and you didn’t get you bed made up yet!).

    An extra wall at the back or side of the closet could provide a separate mechanical room too. A window in the closet would provide light during the day.

    Just an idea I’m considering. Do you see any flaws that I’m missing? I know that a bathroom and a big porch will be part of the design and a small cellar for my canned foods. I live on my porch in warm seasons and can my own food from my garden. Lol

    I like your design but I’m at the age where I just don’t want to take care of much. I want to enjoy my garden and my animals and not have a lot to be cleaned.

  • November 22, 2015 at 10:08 am

    We have had the opportunity to build 2 custom homes. It is said that one needs to build 3 to get it “right”. I will put forward my (2) suggestions. I would move the “up” stairs to across from the stove (otherwise you will have dead space in the area they are located now). I would also move the toilet further in to the bathroom. Pocket doors don’t do as good of a job in noise reduction as regular doors. We have used both. Our current home is almost like your floor plan! We did the same downsizing. Love my smaller house! It doesn’t matter how big a house is… we really live in about 1200 sq. ft. of it. (This is a saying as a real estate agent that came out of my mouth (too) often. We can only be in one place at one time…) Love your blog, ideas and philosophy.

  • November 22, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Americans are funny. 1200 square feet is a small house?? Here in Hong Kong, we live as a family of 4 in 680 square feet, and this already counts as luxurious living. I have never seen any flats here having more than 1000 square feet, even the biggest ones. I fully support every attempt at simple living and such, and I love your house plans, but please stop whining about how small a house like that is. It’s a lot more than anyone here has.

    • November 22, 2015 at 9:37 am

      I hear that Hong Kong is beautiful – and we both hope to travel to see it someday! You are absolutely right John – and a point well taken that this size is still very large when considering homes around the world. I think “whining” might be a bit harsh though, lol – we are just very excited to scale down here in what would be on the smaller side here in the States.

  • November 22, 2015 at 9:00 am

    Love your well thought out plan! It drives me nuts to drive down any road and see huge houses that are mostly empty of people. I have often thought it best to live within the space you need rather than the Cavernous space you want… Can’t wait to see the house! I LOVE the ideas of the sliding barn style doors.

    • November 22, 2015 at 9:20 am

      Thanks so much and we share those thoughts as well on the space! We are really excited about the barn doors too – its going to be hard to decide on which style of barn door to build! πŸ™‚

      • November 22, 2015 at 9:27 am

        And that is one of the reasons I follow you guys!!

      • November 22, 2015 at 12:15 pm

        Be eclectic and have different ones! Things don’t have to match. I love the idea of a little eating table with 4 (or more) different chairs and different plates for each setting etc etc etc. It looks fun and each different piece (or door) can have its own story of where it came from!

      • November 22, 2015 at 12:16 pm

        I answered this comment but it didn’t show up as a reply to it. Sorry.

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