Dualing Townhouse Plans: Version 3 VERSUS Version 4, a Fight to the End…

Oh wait, is that a hybrid on the horizon?  Oh, oh, better reset your bets!

That’s right, we’re getting gritty by comparing the best of our efforts thus far to see who comes out on top.  This isn’t person, it’s practical as we seek to find the best layout for a typical New York Townhouse.

All too often we have clients who present us with they failing townhouses. Not just structurally, but functionally.  The time when they were built in-door plumbing was but a dream, and since then countless layers of modifications to try to make them functional has ultimately failed, hence their call to us, SimpleTwig Architecture (just making sure our readers know it’s us who’s writing and diagramming these articles and not someone copying/pasting articles from elsewhere, and the plug too :).

So during this battle of the townhouse layouts, we discovered that some of the features of Version 3, and some of the features of Version 4, should possibly be combined.  Hence we have Version 5 also in the battle.  As you’re see, each layout has it’s merits and character, certainly worthy of consideration, but in this battle we are seeking simplicity and efficiency.  Simplicity to keep construction costs down and its schedule moving quickly towards completion and occupancy, and efficiency in order to keep more square footage inside the apartment in useful spaces, like the living room.

So what happened to Version 1 and 2?  You’ll have to read our previous articles to see those, which covers the basics of efficiency in design.



  • Great Room is 304 Square Feet.
  • Kitchen is compact with an extra floor to ceiling pantry.
  • 2 Bedrooms have Walk-in Closets (most row houses only have one bedroom per floor, so the second bedroom is a bonus and a big boost in rental income);
  • Bedroom sizes are ample, both accommodation a variety of furniture.  Both have walk-in closets with the potential of a shelf wall, helping keep the bedrooms clutter free and sleep orientated. The closets come equipped with low cfm vent fans to keep them fresh.
  • Laundry, side by side w/ countertop and wall cabinets for storage.  (most apartments do not have a coat closet, so this is a bonus)
  • Coat Closet is small; (most apartments do not have a coat closet, so this is a bonus)
  • Linen Closet is small; (most apartments do not have a coat closet, so this is a bonus)
  • New Stair Configuration with landing extensions, to make moving furniture easier;
  • Space for a dining table set, or the option of using seating at the counter.
  • Nice shape to the hallway, which is centrally located.
  • This and all other layouts promote good cross ventilation.


Version 4 changes the orientation of the switch-back stair and it’s location. Because it extends across the width so dramatically, there would be no room for the kitchen and bathrooms if they moved to the opposite party-wall for people to move past the stair, therefore, the stair, kitchen and bathroom/laundry must ‘attach’ itself to the same party-wall.  The results are noted here:

  • Pros:
  • Large uninterrupted Great Room with extra wall space available to tenant.
  • Traditional Kitchen layout with microwave/vent above stove.
  • Full laundry room off Master Bedroom (better than no laundry, in quiet area, easy access to clothing).
  • Laundry next to plumbing lines and vent stack.
  • Full Walk-in Closet;
  • Simple-shape bedrooms.
  • The layout is simple and would be easy to build.
  • Cons:
  • 2nd Bedroom small and closets in hallway (not a problem if bedroom is used as a den/craft room, or for a child).
  • Kitchen plumbing and vent stack is separated from Bath/Laundry plumbing lines.

Note that versions 3 and 4 are associated with previous studies/articles on http://SimpleTwig.com/BLOG.

The question arrises, if designing a new building from scratch, would changing the orientation of the central stair, as noted in Layout 4, have a significant impact on efficiency, understanding that keeping the stair in the center of the footprint ‘absorbs’ the dark area of a townhouse.

Doing the ‘3 Versus 4’ ‘fight to the end’ analysis (see below for the ‘fight’ along with version 5), there’s are only a few things about layout 4 worthy of consideration, therefore in this fight, 3 wins.

If that is the case, is there a way to make Layout 3 have the positive features of Layout 4 without losing any of its own features?

What would happen Layout 3 to capture the features of Layout 4, for a better Layout #5: The kitchen would be a more standard layout, the bedrooms more rectangular and slightly smaller, the laundry near the bedrooms.


GOAL: The goal of this scheme is to combine the best aspects of version 3 and 4 into a better layout, by modifying the bedroom sizes and moving the laundry room allowing the kitchen to be larger.

  • Pros:
  • Larger Great Room than schemes 3 and 4.
  • Traditional Kitchen layout with microwave/vent above stove. Stove next to gas line wall. Floor to ceiling Pantry bonus.
  • Full laundry room (full 5′ width) with extra space for vacuum, brooms, etc., is also convenient off Bedroom area. Proper insulation could deaden the sound keeping it quiet in apt.
  • Kitchen sink/stove, Bathroom and Laundry all next to plumbing lines and vent stack.
  • Full Walk-in Closet Bedroom 1; reasonable closet bedroom 2.
  • Adequate bedrooms.
  • Linen/toiletries closet in Bathroom, convenience bonus.
  • Hallway is smaller than in schemes 3 and 4, which implies space is being efficiently used.
  • The layout is simple and would be reasonable to build.
  • Cons:
  • 2nd Bedroom 2 small.

NOTE: The stair landing is extended beyond what is required on both landings, but only 2″ on the intermediate landing. Overall it is smaller than the stair in Layouts 3 & 4 by 5 square feet.


So we now have 3 versions, each with their own merits and characters, but which has the features that truly make for a better, larger apartment?  That’s where the following chart comes in, analyzing and comparing square footages, dispositions, and other factors to know which layout has the best bits and pieces.  And you thought townhouse plans wouldn’t ever duel… will here it is:

Will I hope you realized that Version 5, ‘The Hybrid’, since it was grabbing the best parts of 3 and 4 would win.  Still, it is a very useful study, one that can quantify the reality of the design decisions we make.

But the battle isn’t over… looking at every space, to optimize its size, ensuring functionality and code compliance, understanding that meeting code doesn’t always translate into meeting functionality, we have continued our efforts for the search of THE ULTIMATE TOWNHOUSE FLOOR PLAN.  And we believe we have found it, or something very close to it, which we will release on August 28th, at 3:00 PM.  It is Version Number 8, understanding that Versions 6 and 7, while appreciated, where nothing but stepping stones towards the ULTIMATE GLORY OF TOWNHOUSE PLANS!  6 and 7, you will be missed.

It’s so exciting, and well, lets just say the Great Room gets huge, yeah, we added almost an additional 50 square feet to the Great Room just by changing the stair, and moving everything else!

We’ll see you in a couple of days for our Ultimate Townhouse Floor Plan release, and we hope you enjoyed our little battle of the townhouse plans.

All articles on this blog are original, including the graphics unless stated otherwise.  Please share but do not copy/paste without written permission.  Thanks.

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