Friday, November 5, 2010

Minimum House Plan

In 1947 Life Magazine published three modern house plans, one was called the Minimum House and was designed by Oregon architect Pietro Belluschi. It was a 25' square house that could be built for $7,000 and later expanded for a growing family. This plan was probably intended for soldiers returning from WWII and ready to start families. The children of those families (known as Baby Boomers) are starting to enter retirement. Our Minimum House Plan is inspired by the original but updated for Baby Boomers who want a small house for cost reasons, because they don't need a large home any more, for a second home or retreat, or because they want to live more sustainably with more efficient use of resources and less maintenance.

Our Minimum House is a 25' by 35' (850 sf plus storage) open plan with a large covered terrace. The Life Magazine article said "the minimum house provides a maximum of pleasant living", which is what we tried to achieve with this updated plan. The space is open and flows around the house. The space is very comfortable with high ceilings and wrap around windows. It will be well suited for entertaining. Some spaces have multiple uses; such as the entry, which in most small homes tends to be tight and cramped or enter directly into the living room, in this plan the space also has a built in desk for home office or desktop computer along with a wall of storage closets. The bathroom is compartmentalized so that guests can use it as a powder room without going through the sleeping area. Two vanity areas allow separate sinks for couples and one has a 6' long counter top for folding laundry or packing your suitcase. There is a large walk-in closet and storage room added to the carport is available to store stuff. So while small in square footage it has plenty of living space and storage for a single person or a couple.

In 1951 Pietro Belluschi designed the Griffith house that was a small home similar to Life's Minimum home. This house survived until a few years ago and has been dismantled and will be reconstructed as the Belluschi Pavilion on the campus of Marylhurst University in Lake Oswego Oregon. You can find information on the Griffith House as well as reprints of the Life Magazine articles here.

Another Minimum House Plan can be seen here.


  1. Those are wonderful House plans. It has a visionary architecture. I like all the designs.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I think small homes can be very livable, especially if we stop accumulating so much stuff.

  3. Makes me think of the Usonian House that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the masses. They temporarily put up one on the grounds of the Scottsdale Museum of Art, Scottsdale, AZ a few years ago and I was really impressed with the design, livability, and simplicity.

  4. Great photos of a Usonian house that was for sale last fall.

  5. I just recently came across this house and have since become a little obsessed with it. Robert, your design is fairly near perfect as far as I am concerned. It is somewhat of a masterpiece. As someone who has spent the last decade in a small Manhattan apartment and already edited his "stuff" down to that which he loves or uses, I would consider this a nice easy transition to a more rural setting. I might consider adding one extravagance which would include extending the patio and installing a small lap pool beyond the roof line. Question: where would you suggest locating the hot water and heating units?

    1. They could easily go in the storage room at the end of the carport. Thank you for your compliment.

  6. nice. See Cliff May's "Experimental Ranch House"