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Old 01-06-2020, 07:27 PM
 
733 posts, read 403,967 times
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Most Chicago walkup lots are 25x125 with the typical shotgun layout from when they were originally built. Bedrooms on one side....hallway running full length down middle...then family/dining room up front with kitchen in the back and one full bath splitting them. This always results in the bedrooms being waaaaay too small (mostly narrow) with a lot of wasted space in the kitchen and dining rooms.

The best layout is hallway all the way to one side, bedrooms in back with the modern kitchen up front opening into the family room. The key is the hallway all the way on one side of the building which allows the bedrooms to stretch 10-12 feet wide.

I know I'm not providing ground breaking news....and that trends have changed a lot over the last 100+ years...but it's just a shame that the general layout back then wasn't at least to have the hallway all on one side. I see so many walkups that have the updated everything...but the old layout...and basically require a full gut just to make the bedrooms usable.
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:15 AM
 
Location: River North, Chicago, Illinois
4,565 posts, read 7,023,354 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dtcbnd03 View Post
Most Chicago walkup lots are 25x125 with the typical shotgun layout from when they were originally built. Bedrooms on one side....hallway running full length down middle...then family/dining room up front with kitchen in the back and one full bath splitting them. This always results in the bedrooms being waaaaay too small (mostly narrow) with a lot of wasted space in the kitchen and dining rooms.

The best layout is hallway all the way to one side, bedrooms in back with the modern kitchen up front opening into the family room. The key is the hallway all the way on one side of the building which allows the bedrooms to stretch 10-12 feet wide.

I know I'm not providing ground breaking news....and that trends have changed a lot over the last 100+ years...but it's just a shame that the general layout back then wasn't at least to have the hallway all on one side. I see so many walkups that have the updated everything...but the old layout...and basically require a full gut just to make the bedrooms usable.
When they were built, bedrooms were for sleeping and, for married couples, procreating, and people had smaller beds - even most couples with a shared bed rarely had one bigger than a full size, and children certainly didn't have anything bigger than a twin, and a modern twin would have been larger than many childrens' beds 80-100 years ago. Children didn't spend a lot of time in their bedroom except for sleeping.

The rest of the time they spent in the family room or living room or kitchen. Or outside - kids used to spend a lot more time outside than they do today. I mean, what self-respecting kid in 1920 would want to be inside when he or she could be outside running around with the neighbor kids? There were barely radios, let alone televisions and certainly nobody was even thinking about all the things modern computes can do. You'd only be inside to do homework, eat meals, and do family activities like read stories to each other.

So given all that, a home with today's preferred layout would not just not be preferred, but it wouldn't even make sense to people - they'd be confused about all the space wasted in bedrooms and complain that the family was all crowded in the smaller common areas.

And even today, not everyone wants big bedrooms. When I was looking for a home to buy, one of my biggest complaints was that I could either have a home with modern touches, or I could have a home where the common areas got preference for available space. Many of the places I saw were either un-rehabbed homes with isolated kitchens and odd bathrooms, or there were contemporary homes where bedrooms took up over half the available space, which just seemed like a horrible waste of space to me. Given the choice, I'd much rather have a small bedroom and more common space than the other way around. It wasn't even that unusual to see places where the master bedroom was literally the largest room in the entire home. Don't people ever throw parties or have friends over? Or do they just let everyone hang out in their bedroom?

What you describe is actually a pretty big waste of space and would be a terrible design from a functional standpoint. Putting a hallway all the way to one side means you can only have rooms opening up from one side, meaning half of the hallway is wasted, and then the exterior side of the hallway either has no windows, meaning you have a significant part of your home without windows, or there are windows that are kind of wasted because any light coming in is just illuminating a hallway and not a space usable for anything other than movement.

Besides all that, I don't actually think that the "shotgun" layout was all that common in Chicago outside of a few neighborhoods. The use of stairs and edge-to-edge layouts resulted in better layouts than you seem to have run across. With a 25'-wide lot, if there's a basement-level gangway passthrough between the front and the back, and the upper floors are at least partially lot-line-to-lot-line, that means they had 23 feet of width to work with. Hallways didn't have the same code requirements as today, so including interior walls, in cases where a hallway ran down the middle you could still have bedrooms that were 10 feet wide on each side (25' lot minute 1 foot exterior wall on each side, minus 3 feet for the hallway including interior walls, leaving 20' for bedroom space, split in two means bedrooms on each side of the hallway could measure 10' wide, exterior-to-interior wall. Then they could be as long as the family wanted whether that's a small 7'x10' bedroom, or medium-sized 12'x10' bedroom or a fairly spacious 15'x10' room.

I live downtown in a vintage brick building. It was actually built as two buildings, one a bit deeper than the other (the side my unit is primarily in is the shallower side), but in 1979 they were gut renovated and tied together, which a central stairwell carved out of the deeper side, making the units on each side closer to the same square footage. All the buildings on my block are lot-line-to-lot-line. The interior width of my widest section is 20.5 feet, and the exterior walls are about 10 inches, so the "interior" wall separating me from the next-door neighbor within the building, since it was originally an exterior wall, is about 20 inches of masonry (nice and quiet). At any rate, the city lists the combined lot as 6,600 square feet. There is parking for nine cars in the back (three single spaces, and three 2-car tandem spaces), adjacent to the alley, and decking/fire exit in the "shallow" part of my building. So I think that the total exterior width of my building at its widest part is about 22'. It has sort of a unique layout, but it could be laid out with decent-sized bedrooms on each side of the building.

In the sketch below, I think the only reason the hall is on the side in the back is that the utility stack would go right through a bedroom otherwise. The basement has a completely different layout for the utility stack. Plus, there is a partial gangway, an air and light passage, between the exterior wall and the neighboring building. That takes up about 2 feet. Since I'm on the top floor, I'd love to renovate and reclaim some of that by cantalevering over the passageway. The right side of the photo is the front/street-side of the building, the left is the alley-side. The little bump-out in the lower right is the interior stairwell/entrance to the unit.

This is a rough sketch of its current layout:
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Old 01-08-2020, 05:20 AM
 
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
2,041 posts, read 757,589 times
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emathias, I just need to give credit where it is due, Sir: That was QUITE an interesting and educational response! I found it a good read! Thank you for sharing!
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Old 01-08-2020, 08:47 AM
 
733 posts, read 403,967 times
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emathias - I agree people back in the day had smaller bedrooms cause use was different - twin size beds, minimal bedroom furniture and clothes. Now everyone has a king size bed, TVs and tons of clothes. What's interesting is a master bedroom would still need to fit two twin beds (38") which is the same width as a king (76"). Couples just jammed them up against a wall I guess back then instead of spacing them out (which would require more room than King)

A couple more comments
- The shotgun layout was THE style in Chicago. It's in 99% of every original 2-3 flat in every neighborhood.

- 25 foot wide lots generally have 22 foot wide buildings with 3 foot gangways so 20 feet of interior to work with once you account for brick/studs. Buildings only run lot line to lot line in parts with bump outs over gangways and cut ins for bedroom air/light vent windows. I don't know the old code but pretty sure after Chicago fire that woulda been required for escape.

- Old bedrooms are never 10 feet wide because building support beam runs along stairwell and never truly split building 50/50. So old bedrooms area always 8 feet wide with main rooms 12 feet wide.

- Buildings on 30+ foot wide lots don't have this problem which is why they're more popular. Or side-by-side buildings on 50 foot wide lots with common stairwell up the middle cause stairwell uses gangway space that would split buildings and thus doesn't cut into interior space.

- Everyone wants big bedrooms today. I rent to rich and poor neighborhoods and even the poor have king size beds.

- Your drawing pretty much proves my point and explains why hallways should be all the way to one side. This is the layout everyone wants and maximizes bedroom space / use of the building. Even works in townhomes on 20 foot wide lots.

- Here's a great example of the old shotgun style layout building. I don't even have to walk inside to tell you the bedrooms are too small and whole building requires a substantial gut renovation besides looking slightly updated (hence why there are no pics of bedrooms in listing):

https://www.redfin.com/IL/Chicago/26.../home/13288411
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Old 01-08-2020, 12:31 PM
 
8,280 posts, read 10,220,228 times
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Do families even need "family rooms" anymore? With everyone having their own cell phone/laptop, there's no need to fight over a TV channel anymore, and I suspect that most kids would rather be left alone anyway. Life is much different than when I grew up in the 1960s..
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Old 01-08-2020, 01:05 PM
 
2,301 posts, read 1,300,228 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MassVt View Post
Do families even need "family rooms" anymore? With everyone having their own cell phone/laptop, there's no need to fight over a TV channel anymore, and I suspect that most kids would rather be left alone anyway. Life is much different than when I grew up in the 1960s..
I think that's really oversimplifying things unless by "living room" you're referring to a strict definition as the room in the front of the house. It's definitely nice to have a common room. People have guests over. I have a toddler and a baby. They certainly won't be in their rooms by themselves. People still like spending with their family members, and it's nice to sit on a couch in front of a 50 inch tv with a table to place my food and drink on.
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Old 01-08-2020, 01:40 PM
 
Location: Illinois
1,170 posts, read 785,901 times
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I like the layout. Huge bedrooms are a waste of space unless you need kids to share a room.

For instance, we moved from Naperville to the exact format described above. We have one adult son living with us - he's in one of the bedrooms, twin bed, room for a good sized computer desk, shelves, etc. Not a ton of floor space after that, but he's always in his bed or at the desk. And the closet is medium sized. It's enough space.

I understand perhaps wanting a larger master bedroom (ours is on the lower level, small, but fine, the whole lower level is our private space) - but kids don't need huge rooms. I prefer having larger living spaces and a good sized kitchen. It's been an easy adjustment. We have a huge family/living space on the lower level, and a roomy front room to have drinks when a couple friends come over. The dining area is ample and where we tend to gather. Kitchen is medium sized, enough to get the job done but not really a hang out kitchen like the one we had in Naperville.
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Old 01-08-2020, 01:55 PM
 
Location: River North, Chicago, Illinois
4,565 posts, read 7,023,354 times
Reputation: 6195
Quote:
Originally Posted by dtcbnd03 View Post
emathias - I agree people back in the day had smaller bedrooms cause use was different - twin size beds, minimal bedroom furniture and clothes. Now everyone has a king size bed, TVs and tons of clothes. What's interesting is a master bedroom would still need to fit two twin beds (38") which is the same width as a king (76"). Couples just jammed them up against a wall I guess back then instead of spacing them out (which would require more room than King)

A couple more comments
- The shotgun layout was THE style in Chicago. It's in 99% of every original 2-3 flat in every neighborhood.
...
I think part of our disagreement is because you use the term "shotgun" in a way I've never heard it used before. I'm familiar with "shotgun houses," "shotgun homes," "shotgun shacks" from the South, but I've never heard Chicago homes described with that term, sop am far more familiar with Southern "shotgun homes" that are small, usually single story, and you open the front door and can see out the back door. The example you linked to doesn't meet any of those criteria, but knowing you're using the term exceptionally loosely, I'm not sure I can fully participate in a discussion because I simply don't know how you're using the language, and most Chicago apartments are bigger than entire shotgun homes as would be found in the South.
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Old 01-08-2020, 02:44 PM
 
733 posts, read 403,967 times
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I am using shotgun rather loosely because you can't "technically" see from the front door out the back. But I think people know what I mean with bedrooms on one side...kitchen/family room on other...and hallway splitting them running length of building from entry door to back door. It's as close to shotgun you'll get in a multi-unit in Chicago. Depending on the length of the building you can fit 2 or 3 bedrooms on the stairwell side. That's great that emathias and kman like the small bedrooms. There's plenty of buildings to choose from in Chicago. But in my experience the vast majority of buyers and renters want bigger bedrooms than the old Chicago layout below:


Last edited by dtcbnd03; 01-08-2020 at 02:59 PM..
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Old 01-08-2020, 07:43 PM
 
457 posts, read 272,138 times
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I've found that 2 flats built in the southwest (pilsen, little village, bridgeport, mckinley park) are far different and smaller than the 2 flats built directly west, north, south which are far grander.
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