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915 Sq. Ft. Small House for Roommates

Right now I’m sharing a rather large 915 sq. ft. small house that’s designed to be lived in by two roommates who are unrelated. This prefab house was built by students at University of Calgary and Mount Royal University.

So there are two bedrooms, two living rooms, and then a shared kitchen, dining room, and bathroom. Immediately I thought how it would probably be better for most people to share a living room instead of a bathroom, but I still thought this would be an interesting design to share with you.

It reminds me of a college dorm but bigger and more luxurious. There’s even separate outdoor space for each roommate in the floor plan. I’d definitely make some changes to this design to make it better but I still think it’s really nice. It would probably work well for young professionals right out of College. Please enjoy and if you’d like to please re-share below.

915 Sq. Ft. Small House for Roommates


Images © Jason Flakes

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Images © Jason Flakes

Making this Design Better?

I really like this design except for the fact that it only has one bathroom and it’s made to share with roommates. That being said though, this design can be used in other ways for a family or even a couple. And the extra living space can be used as an office or an extra bedroom. What do you think?


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Alex is a contributor and editor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the always free Tiny House Newsletter. He has a passion for exploring and sharing tiny homes (from yurts and RVs to tiny cabins and cottages) and inspiring simple living stories. We invite you to send in your story and tiny home photos too so we can re-share and inspire others towards a simple life too. Thank you!
{ 42 comments… add one }
  • liz n.
    December 30, 2014, 2:26 pm

    This design is actually quite versatile, and I think it could be re-worked to accommodate two bathrooms. I love that it’s solar-powered!

  • December 30, 2014, 2:39 pm

    I love the design. It solves the biggest issue that many people have with living in a small home with others –lack of privacy and less opportunity to express your individuality. Great job!

  • December 30, 2014, 2:58 pm

    I really like it! This would work well for us as an older couple with grown children who may still live at home periodically or as grown children come to visit with grandchildren. I do not mind the jack-n-jill bathroom but might bump out the storage so that the bathroom is wider and the doors enter the bedroom for the bedroom I choose as the master.

    I love that it has such a larger eating area, perfect for our uses with family visiting. The kitchen is a tad small. I would consider making one of the living spaces the kitchen instead.

    • Alex
      December 31, 2014, 2:38 pm

      Cool! I never thought of it like that. It would be a pretty cool way for people who grown children to live simply while still having some extra space for the kids to come by or even live together. Interesting idea! Thanks!

  • Comet
    December 30, 2014, 3:24 pm

    NO bathroom connected to the KITCHEN ever anywhere please! Ugh!

    And am I reading the plans right–no sink in the bath? Maybe it was just not explicitly drawn on this plan. Do the kitchen cabinets open UP? I have mixed feelings about that type–for me it is a no go–too short and too many balance issues; but I think that they do give you more useable space and are–if the lighting is set up right–easier to see inside. And you don’t have to do the “SideWays Shuffle” every time some one needs to get past you when gettings things in or out.

    And–do you have NO access to the utility room from INSIDE? What happens in case of a FIRE in there?

    I like many aspects of this and it is certainly VERY attractive from outside but I would change a few things INSIDE.

    You could also do a propane driven fridge –perhaps this has one—so as to not have to try and generate THAT much elec for the appliances. Looks like a clothes line would take care of most drying needs—!

    • Lee
      January 2, 2015, 1:22 pm

      In the photos, you can see a sink in the bathroom next to the toilet. I don’t think it is depicted in the drawing in a traditional way. In the photo it is long and narrow.

    • Brian
      May 6, 2015, 2:19 pm

      “NO bathroom connected to the KITCHEN ever anywhere please! Ugh!”
      Thankyou Comet, I have been pushing this barrow now for years.
      Especially in Tiny houses, move the bathroom away from the kitchen.
      Thanks for sharing and cheers from Australia.

      • Eric
        March 31, 2016, 4:07 am

        What the heck? The BATHROOM is separated from the kitchen by a WALL!!! What is wrong with that? Scared of the smell? Well I got news for you, smells travel long ways sometimes. Even from one end to another in an 18oo sq ft house. So where ya gonna put it? Outside?? Sorry Comet, get real. The smaller the place the bigger the compromises. Including proximity of kitchen and toilet. Maybe you haven’t heard of exhaust fans where you live??? Work wonders you know. Even in the US I’m told.

  • fred
    December 30, 2014, 3:39 pm

    Easy enough to convert the back “storage” room to a second bathroom with a common wet wall with the existing bathroom. I think it would evolve as one “living room” as the living room and the second as a library/music/study area.

    • Alex
      December 31, 2014, 2:38 pm

      Good thinking Fred!

      • Eric
        March 31, 2016, 4:10 am

        But where are you then going to put your utility machines? Gotta go somewhere, and you really don’t want the noise “inside” the house. That’s why they are built on the outside with a wall between them and the inside proper of the house and occupants. Also makes it easier for service repair persons…

  • Michele Landry
    December 30, 2014, 11:12 pm

    Oh, wow, I really, really like this. I’ve been mentally designing something similar for me and my 11-year old son. We’d probably drop the two LRs. Make the kitchen/dining into kitchen/dining/LR. Keep those two small bedrooms on opposite sides, maybe make those lofts so that the lower area could be used as office/hanging out space. The shared bath would be fine for us. I totally dig that bath layout behind the kitchen for some reason. I’d want to take the modern edge down a notch …we like cozy. I’d like to aim for around 600sf. Wonder how doable that would be?

    • mani
      January 31, 2015, 12:59 am

      Do not invest in a plan Michele with a child that is soon to be a grown up person – one who needs his own space. Trust me, even the most loving son would not care about being with a parent starting 17 – 25 yrs

  • Claudia
    December 31, 2014, 12:43 am

    It’s a lovely house, but far from tiny! After all, most one-bedroom apartments are half that size and often shared by two people.

    (During my under-grad years, I once shared a two-bedroom apartment smaller than this house with FOUR other people. And the square footage was only about two-thirds that of this house.)

    I’d be more impressed if a family of six lived in this house, but for two people this is downright spacious and luxurious — especially for student digs 😉

  • michelle
    December 31, 2014, 11:15 am

    I wud make it 1 larger living room, with a small 2nd bathroom.

    • Alex
      December 31, 2014, 2:37 pm

      Me too 🙂

  • Alberto
    December 31, 2014, 11:42 am

    If its solar-powered it must have a seriously big battery bank which I dont see featured anywhere, and the solar panels (and ammount to recharge the battery bank) arent seen at all (aside of that panel that its seen outside that apparently was to be installed…).

  • Cahow
    December 31, 2014, 12:46 pm

    For the life of me, I can NOT wrap my head around the sense of this structure! I have opened and closed the page five times, to gain a fresh perspective. I’ve shown it to my husband and a friend who is a fellow architect. We all come away from viewing the floor plan with a puzzled look on our faces and a myriad of guesses as to WHO would live in the existing floor plan.

    Best guess? The true ODD COUPLE: a real Felix Unger (Neat-nik) and Oscar Madison (Slob). WHO else could benefit from such a bi-polar design????

    Let’s examine it:
    A) Separate bedrooms. Makes PERFECT sense for either two couples or two people who want their own bedroom so they can style it/clean it how they desire.

    B) SEPARATE LIVING ROOMS????? Separated by only sliding pocket doors!!?? Why?!? And with only sliding doors for privacy, you sure couldn’t rock out to a blasting TV or stereo; headphones would be necessary to complete the total privacy that the original concept attempts to sell. Again, if one person is neat and the other is a slob, I can sorta “get it” but HOW do you manage the upkeep of the shared single bathroom, kitchen and lounge?

    C) GI-NORMOUS kitchen/dining room. Here again is the schizophrenic or bi-polar design flaw…you have two couples or two individuals that MUST HAVE their own lounge but….they are social enough to have LARGE parties or gatherings that require a wickedly cool/large kitchen and dining room…with ONE LOO TO USE for up to EIGHT…count’em…EIGHT people!? “The Line Forms HERE<<<<, Folks!" LOL

    Again, none of the three Right-Brained oriented people I showed this floor plan to, could figure out WHO could benefit from this design. It reminds me of the psychological dilemma of "Go Away!/Come Close!/Go Away! Come Close!" You want to sleep alone (makes sense), you also want to relax ALONE (lounge) but want to share a common bathroom and you entertain A LOT????? I just don't get it, I truly don't.

    Now, if this floor plan was tweaked, it would be a wonderfully efficient and inviting home. With very little modifications, you can create THREE bathrooms and a dedicated Utility Room for furnace, water heater and stacked washer and drier. How to begin? First, with the Jack & Jill bathroom, you can do one of two things. 1) Keep ONE DOOR ONLY to the room. Close off the other door and place all your maintenance items in there: washer/dryer; furnace and water heater. Have a pocket door to that room that is accessed to the new Powder Room that contains a toilet and sink. Since guests will NOT be doing laundry or fiddling around with your furnace, having the pocket door become one of the walls to the bathroom will not be a problem. If you want, wallpaper the utility pocket door or have a nice floor to ceiling mirror installed; the Guest Bathroom will also have a pocket door.

    With the previous Utility Room, extend the back wall to be flush with the twin bedrooms. Now, split that room in half, from North to South. In that new space with access from both bedrooms, you have ample room for ALL you need: sink, toilet and shower!

    If these exceedingly simple modifications were created, then this house would be perfect for couples that like to vacation together but need their space OR roommates that enjoy doing the same. When it came time for Party Time, BOTH living rooms could be opened up and you'd have a massive Great Room that had two dedicated places to lounge, the mega-kitchen/dining room and a dedicated Guest Bath.

    • Alex
      December 31, 2014, 2:35 pm

      It was designed for unrelated roommates (not a couple)

      • Cahow
        December 31, 2014, 3:23 pm

        Hi, Alex. Oh, I “got that”, from the article that it was for unrelated roommates, NOT a couple. I was postulating as to whom it would better for, that’s where my couple’s suggestion came from.

        If there were solid walls used in the dual living rooms, THEN I could understand two unrelated students liking that arrangement as it would provide superior sound-proofing. But, just sliding shoji screens; not much noise resistance with that application.

        I could also see this very easily turned into a 4-bedroom unit, especially for couples that travel together or a family of 4 that doesn’t require a lot of space in their bedrooms. Then, the lounge could be in that bump-out and a dining room table for 8 could be positioned parallel to the kitchen counter.

    • Kim Larsen
      March 27, 2016, 3:44 pm

      Perhaps you didn’t read the intro…these were students designing it and the use would be 2 roommates!
      Clearly you have never shared space as a roommate or you would realize the delight one would enjoy of having their own living space to relax and even your own deck for coffee.
      Your laughing at the design of students, when you are an architect just shows your own selfishness and insecurity.

      • Patricia
        March 28, 2016, 1:21 am

        Kim, I did not appreciate your rudeness to Cahow. We are all adults on this page and we do not have to be unkind to each other. Personal insults are not welcome here. Cahow was not laughing at the students, she was making some observations and suggestions. If the students who designed this house cannot take suggestions from an architect who is a professional, then they shouldn’t be in the business.

  • Cahow
    December 31, 2014, 12:53 pm

    I also wanted to add: in WHAT world can “students” afford a structure like this???? We’ve rented out 2 bedrooms in our 3 bedroom condo to students for the past 11 years. Whether those students were undergrad or getting their Master’s, the $600/month that we charge for rent/utilities is right at the upper limit of what students can afford. Unless you were working on a Fellowship Grant or had parent’s that were bankrolling you (or massive student loans!), I can’t imagine how actual students could afford the easily $3,000/month mortgage payment for this space…let alone furnish it in the gorgeous (but pricey) furnishings that decorate the space. Yes, I’m aware that the going rate for a 3-bedroom shared apartment at the Loyola Campus Dorms goes for $6,000.00 PER MONTH, which also includes a 3 meal plan per day. But, paying $2,000 per student for 2-4 years of schooling leaves you bankrupt at the end of your education. Once again, I am left scratching my head over WHO this structure was designed for: Silver Spoon Students or O.C.D./Slob friends that rarely need the bathroom but LOVE to party and eat in the kitchen. LOL

    • Alex
      December 31, 2014, 2:36 pm

      I don’t think it was meant for students. Maybe students going for their doctorates who are taking on hundreds of thousands in student loans. Or recent grads still having to have roommates to pay off the loans while working.

      • Cahow
        December 31, 2014, 3:25 pm

        Exactly my point, Alex. A friend of mine in his 40’s who’s a dermatologist still owes $250,000.00 in student loans! Yikes!!!

        Good thing I got scholarships to attend Uni! 😀

  • Marna
    January 2, 2015, 6:59 pm

    i think it works great for a couple, using the second bedroom and living room as guest room/den/music/office..whatever your individual needs require. We have downsized from 5,000sq ft> 4,200 >1,800 > 2,400 and are now going into 1,350 with trepidation. But this design looks attractive for making the next big downsizing! Especially if it is in a decent location.

  • Drew Vickers
    February 1, 2015, 3:07 pm

    I really love this plan and think, as a single mom- the 2nd living room could double as a playroom/homework/art/creative area.

  • Angie
    February 19, 2015, 10:25 pm

    How can I get the plans to build this house? I love it! I know it depends on material costs for the area in which you live, but do you have a ball park figure for cost to build?

  • Jeanne
    May 6, 2015, 4:38 pm

    I don’t mind the bathroom being “near” the kitchen, as long as you can’t actually see into the bathroom while you are in the kitchen. My only “thing” about this house is that, while it has separate sitting rooms, all the people in the house have to use the same toilet. I would find a way to add a few square feet and make a true jack-and-jill bath, so that each roommate has a toilet and sink. And, please — a bathtub.

    • Eric
      March 31, 2016, 4:19 am

      Oh, Puhleeeeez! How difficult is it to work around 1 toilet? Sheesh, when I was growing up there were 6 in our family. 1 toilet inside the bathroom. Never was it a major problem. Ever!

      Truly I think the world has become obsessed with gotta have… and it affects more than just the US. Jeepers, for many families in the worlds underdeveloped areas this would be palatial.

  • Vivian
    May 6, 2015, 11:33 pm

    Very nice, 2 bathrooms would be nice too. And prefab, very interesting.
    How much that can cost? I liked the design.

  • Steve
    March 27, 2016, 10:01 am

    here is some irony. I live in Calgary, where the structure was built. It was then shipped to CA for the judging and then trucked back to Calgary where it sat for approx. 6-months.
    It was then auctioned off for…wait for it…$21,000 as it stood in sections, you had to pay to move it and then lot, set up, etc. So all in all, the new owner was into it for $135,000 give or take.
    The scenario with these home that compete in the solar decathlon, the universities have to take them back to their origins, and then they sell them off afterwards to offset certain costs, so pay attention and you might just get yourself a sweetheart of a deal. I missed this one by $2,500 myself.

  • Janette Price
    March 27, 2016, 10:01 am

    Why are we into where people are getting their finances ? I thought this was about tiny house design ideas. Well, I like the design personally. I would do two bathrooms and cut out a place for washer/dryer,hot water heater and that type thing. Other than this,sometimes I am just about privacy,not noise,not others entertaining,I just want privacy. So this works for me with very few modifications. Thanks for sharing

    • Eric
      March 31, 2016, 4:21 am

      I think people are more into “can I realistically afford this” rather than where are people getting the money.

  • Jeanine
    March 27, 2016, 11:52 am

    Nice idea, but lacks storage. Closets?

    • Jen
      November 12, 2016, 5:22 am

      It LOOKS like they’re built into the walls. Look at the picture of the bedroom. Also, I spotted a bookcase in the living room.
      I know it’s really nice, but to me, it’s REALLY spacious, almost to excess. As nice as it is, I wonder if they couldn’t make better use of the space, like adding more storage.
      Don’t get me wrong… I’d take that place in a second! But if they re-thought it, they could make room for a third roommate!

      • Natalie
        November 14, 2016, 11:57 am

        Good point! — Tiny House Talk Team

  • Josepha Hegan
    August 23, 2017, 2:38 pm

    Alex, I’m just now seeing this for the first time -3 years behind the time! Can you tell me who I might contact for building plans? The house would work perfectly for me! Thank you in advance. Josepha

  • Vivian
    November 27, 2017, 3:46 pm

    I rather like the design. Of course, the design is to reflect the purpose. Two unrelated people would need a touch more space than a couple. I would just redesign slightly. Anyone entering such an arrangement would already have a mindset towards cohabitation and compromise. I would design it with a half-bath on each side and a communal shower behind that kitchen. I don’t think it would take up any more space because that bathroom is pretty huge.

  • Sherry
    November 27, 2017, 3:47 pm

    Great concept….but I agree that a separate bathroom would be ideal. I would gladly give up a couple of feet from the living room and bedroom spaces to have my own bathroom!

  • DB
    November 27, 2017, 4:52 pm

    Must have missed this the first time around. I agree two bathrooms and a single living room would feel better, but I can see the reasons for doing it this way. Plumbing is expensive and better centralized, open living room space is cheap. And with just two bedrooms a single bathroom is enough really.

    Two living rooms seems excessive though being able to isolate the them with the sliding walls makes sense of the choice, being able to have a quiet space when desired while entertaining in the other works.

    All in all a pretty sharp design suitable for a lot of housing applications.

  • Ellen Childress
    November 28, 2017, 11:53 am

    As the leader of our East Dallas Seniors Coalition, we are looking to ways to provide housing for the elderly, allowing them to live at home instead of being forced into ( non-existent in Dallas ) assisted living. This floor plan would be, with just a tweak here and there, perfect. Two baths would be
    better. My husband uses CPAP equipment at night; so, we sleep in separate
    rooms and would love to buy a lot here in our neighborhood and put something like this house on it.

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