While you are browsing the floor plans, you might ask yourself where you would put a television. In almost every case, in the one place where a TV might go there is a fireplace or a wood burning stove. That’s fine, assuming that the way you use your living space is by sitting with your cultured friends, making witty conversation and sipping an iced decaf latte while occasionally tending your fire. But if, like most of us, you spend your time watching Redskins vs. Seahawks, or the long awaited series finale of Survivor, then these floor plans just won’t work. You might be thinking, “just rearrange the furniture”. But in most cases there really is no way to rearrange the furniture: your only option is to put the TV above the fireplace or stove. And it’s not like you can just move the fireplace or stove: they vent through chimneys, so if they are located somewhere else the entire building plan is changed.

The houses themselves are “compact”, I guess, by comparison with ridiculously large suburban stick frame McMansions. But I was hoping for smaller. 1400 square feet is a pretty sizable house. The typical 1950s rambler was around 900 square feet, so the houses in this book are not really pushing any design envelopes.

Most of the floor plans seem pretty cramped. The bedrooms are shown with fullsize beds, not queen size as most of us have, and often don’t have much room around them. There just generally seemed to be one room too many in many of these designs.

The one part of the book that I found interesting was the chapter on design patterns and ideas for making the most of a small space. That section would have benefited from links to suppliers, but it’s a book not a website, so the absence of links is understandable. I liked that he had suggestions for space saving furniture: various types of Murphy beds, a table that folds up into a mirror frame; that kind of thing.



Book cover

Metadata Info

  • Title: Compact Houses
  • Author: Gerald Rowan
  • Published: 2013
  • ISBN: 1612121020
  • Buy: Amazon search
  • Check out: Seattle library
  • Rating: 3.0 stars