What is the name of my house type and layout?
February 18, 2020 10:46 AM   Subscribe

I want to google renovations done on houses similar to mine. But to do this, I need search terms! It's a 1967, 2-storey home in Canada.

I was really shocked recently when an Ikea salesperson knew my house layout just from a couple of small clues. It made it realize (duh) that there are many, many other houses in this city, in North America and probably world-wide built the same way. So - what is this layout called? I'd like to find out more about it.

- Built 1967
- 2 storey
- detached garage (well, it's attached to the house but there is no entrance to it from inside the house)

- Front door opens onto staircase going upstairs. (Awkward, but whatever). Back door aligns with staircase going to basement.
- Main floor is split in half by the staircases. On one side (the left, if you are standing at the front entrance) is a long living room. On the other side (the right) is the dining room and beyond that, the kitchen. The dining room and kitchen are separated by a load-bearing wall.
- I haven't measured it but kitchen is probably a 10 by 10, maybe a little bigger.
- Main floor washroom is near the back door, in a very small area that some people call a "mud room". It's way too small to be a proper mud room, as I understand them.
- Upstairs has 4 bedrooms and a bathroom, organized around the staircase.

I hope this make sense. If I had better terminology I wouldn't need your help! I want to google renovations, but it would also be really neat to understand more about the popularity of this floorplan during it's time.
posted by kitcat to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I grew up in a Dutch colonial that was pretty much exactly as you described, except left-right was flipped (kitchen, etc. on the left), and there was one master bedroom taking up half of the upstairs, and two smaller bedroom on the other side. True Dutch colonials weren't built in the 60s, of course, but could be a colonial revival or similar style.

That being said, from my understanding a lot of "traditional" type homes (aka not open concept) have a similar layout. I would be able to tell the style of a house much easier from a description of the outside - roof (a dead giveaway for Dutch colonials), windows, doors, etc. Can you describe the outside of your house?
posted by sillysally at 10:52 AM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

There's a floorplan called American Foursquare, although the classic era of this was earlier than yours.

It might also be what I would call a "center hall colonial" although I'm not immediately finding a nice link about that.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:59 AM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

sillysally is correct that the roof is what differentiates a Dutch Colonial from a regular Colonial house. The typical organization of the rooms on either side of a central stair which is usually facing the door, and the organization of the upstairs bedrooms around the central stair/bath is typical. I've lived in Colonials that were larger, having a third floor, usually with two bedrooms and a central bath by the stairs.

The largely symmetrical room placement on either side of the stairs, and regularity of the window placement from the outside are also typical of Colonial houses. They look balanced.
posted by citygirl at 11:01 AM on February 18, 2020

I wish I could link the google maps image of it without giving away my address! It basically looks like two rectangles stacked on top of one another. The roof is only very slightly angled. The first storey has an overhang (don't know exactly what that's called) but there is no porch (although we could build one). There is a very large window on the left (living room) side. Another large window in the right (dining room) side. Garage is on the right side. There is some brick on either side of the front door, but I think only ornamental.
posted by kitcat at 11:02 AM on February 18, 2020

Like the first picture in this article?
posted by sillysally at 11:06 AM on February 18, 2020

kitcat, you could take a screenshot of the Google maps image of your house and then basically scratch out your address using a simple editing program, like Paint, essentially redacting it.
posted by cooker girl at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2020 [4 favorites]

Kitcat - do a cropped screencap (Windows, Mac) that only includes the house picture and none of the identifying information, then upload to Imgur?
posted by Pandora Kouti at 11:07 AM on February 18, 2020

Ok, it must be a colonial house, because the roof and window placements and shape are all just like what is pictured here!
posted by kitcat at 11:08 AM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Based on your profile location, I wonder if you might live in a Nelson home? Nelson manufactures kit-based houses -- a builder or a buyer buys a home based on plans and then Nelson delivers all the precut panels, trusses and other lumber necessary to build the home. They are extremely common in western Canada and while Nelson makes a lot of designs now, they used to make relatively few floor plans and I believe a fair number of them were foursquare houses around a central staircase.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:10 AM on February 18, 2020

The first-story overhang makes it more specifically a garrison colonial.
posted by mskyle at 11:10 AM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Sorry, guys, here is an actual pic of my house. And I'm in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
posted by kitcat at 11:16 AM on February 18, 2020

If you're interested in this sort of thing, look for "A Field Guide to American Houses" by Virginia McAlester at your local library. Very helpful and informative.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:41 AM on February 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

It doesn't look like a CMHC design: they were pretty out there in '67.
posted by scruss at 11:51 AM on February 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

Huh, it actually looks more like a ranch in the photo! But they are usually single-story. Here are some two-story ranch houses.
posted by mskyle at 12:07 PM on February 18, 2020

2nding a Field Guide to American houses! I have it and love it.

There are a on of different kinds of colonial and colonial revival homes. It could be a garrison as mskyle says, however I'm not super familiar with that one. I know they have the overhang ("cantilever") but in the examples I'm familiar with, the second story is overhanging but doesn't actually have a roof there as yours does (like in the article I linked above). That being said, many colonials, and especially colonial revivals, don't check every box of their category perfectly. Additions and changes can also be made later on (as in this garrison colonial, which started out without the roof/shingles on the cantilever, but was later added in.)

And on preview, I agree with mskyle again that it looks like it could be a two-story ranch....which could explain the roof I was trying to explain away above! But I'm not an expert - you can look into other details to try to nail it down a bit more. The Field Guide book goes into a LOT of detail about this stuff, explaining lots of small architectural detail that can tell you a lot if you know what you're looking for.

You can go down some fun rabbit holes with this stuff! Have fun.
posted by sillysally at 12:15 PM on February 18, 2020

I am going down rabbit holes and getting a headache... This has been a great help!

I'm trying to find out more about the rationale behind the interior plan. I haven't had a lot of luck with foursquare. So far a helpful search term has been "center hall colonial" sometimes combined with the term "mid century modern" That central staircase is the thing that really the defines (somewhat annoyingly) what you can and cannot do with the space. If you have other links or search terms to offer focusing in the interior that would be wonderful.
posted by kitcat at 12:23 PM on February 18, 2020

I would describe that house as a 2 story ranch, and staircase right into the front door is a very common feature. If I were to guess, it looks like the 2nd story is added on later (different roof pitch is a giveaway), which might account for the choppy layout, but it could be original.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:50 PM on February 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

you might look into 'raised ranch' as a term in addition to 2 story-- a lot of the description reminds me of the house I grew up in in Connecticut although I think your lower level is a little different.
posted by actionpact at 12:52 PM on February 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Raised ranch! I used to live in one too, but it wasn't quite as two story as yours - the door opened into a staircase landing; upstairs was living room, kitchen, two bedrooms, downstairs was another living room, another bedroom, and entry to the garage.
posted by mygothlaundry at 2:20 PM on February 18, 2020

(I don't think it's a raised ranch. The stairs are 2 feet in front of the entrance and go all the way up to the second story of the house where the bedrooms are.)
posted by kitcat at 2:39 PM on February 18, 2020

I hate to say it but most of the answers are using terminology and vocabulary that is much more common south of the border that they are in Canada. I've never heard ranch or XYZ colonial used to describe this very common design. You'd certainly never see it in the reality listings. Seriously, don't bother trying to chase those rabbits down their holes.

I know you want a name and an answer, but late-sixties two-story will pretty much give your local tradesman enough to go on. Just reading your description, I could pretty much picture it (minus details like colour, etc.) If you're dealing with local people, just naming the neighbourhood will be enough to draw them a picture.
posted by sardonyx at 3:48 PM on February 18, 2020 [5 favorites]

I thought someone would have already said this but I would call it a split-level. Does anything in this article help?wikipedia
posted by brilliantine at 4:21 PM on February 18, 2020

It’s definitely not what most people would call a split level - those have the entryway in between the floors. I think if you’re looking for interior rearrangement kinda suggestions “colonial” will work, even though it’s not colonial-looking from the outside.
posted by mskyle at 4:31 PM on February 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

Try asking your friendly local reference librarian. They'll be able to find out what style your house is, and a lot about the local history of your house and neighborhood. There might also be local newspaper articles about remodeling that kind of house.
posted by monotreme at 4:39 PM on February 18, 2020 [2 favorites]

I think in real estate speak it's called a bi-level. I'm in the same geographical location as you, if that helps. But yeah, I'm always looking at real estate listings and from the outside pic of your house I could guess what the inside layout is like ;) there are a lot of them out there!
posted by bluebelle at 7:28 PM on February 18, 2020

I hate to say it but most of the answers are using terminology and vocabulary that is much more common south of the border that they are in Canada.

Well the OP is looking for pictures to renovate and since Canada is approximately the population of California, the much larger picture set for looking into the US could be helpful.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:52 AM on February 19, 2020

I would guess that is a variation of the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) design 50. I can't find detailed info - but here is a list of examples of CHMC designs, including a 50-75. In general there is limited historical information available about CMHC's role in designing most of the post war housing in Canada- but here's a whole thesis and here's a portion of one of CMHC's design books.

This is why everyone in Edmonton 'just knows' about your design, it's essentially a kit house that a local crew would have put together from one those CHMC designs. If I was going to name it's architectural style I would suggest Mid Century Modern CHMC Two Story Rancher.

Once you are familiar with the plans you will see these houses everywhere in western Canada, as much of the housing construction would have been during this period of CHMC designed houses.
posted by zenon at 9:00 AM on February 19, 2020 [3 favorites]

Thank you zenon - I came to the same conclusion last night and found a few of those links, but not the thesis which I'm looking forward to reading. The main-floor plan is almost identical to the Campeau A-1, which is the first one shown in the first link you posted. The closest I've been able to find, at least. I've been reading about "center passage" or "center hall" designs, which are apparently also known as "Georgian plan" and apparently originate from "hall and parlour" houses when they evolved into what's called "double pile" houses. That type of floor plan is apprently extremely common in Colonial-style houses (and folks above are right that mine seems kind of like a 'mock' colonial). But that's a bit of a red herring because the interior of those gorgeous colonials bears no resemblance to the original stylings of ours when we bought it - it had thoroughly a 1960's aesthetic. There is a CMHC book about post-war homes but it is about 1 1/2 story houses (distinguishable from 2 storey in that the main floor usually holds the master bedroom and the second floor has less square footage than the main floor). But ours is a full 2 storey. Anyhow, this is giving me lots to go on. Looks like I'll be making a trip to the library.
posted by kitcat at 9:28 AM on February 19, 2020

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