living smaller
Eliminating unneeded rooms. Our floor plan is basic, but it works!

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 🙂

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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