New Departures for the Airplane Bungalow

Now Arriving: the Libertyville Not So Big® Showhouse

OK. The term “airplane bungalow” could refer to an airborne dwelling, like Dorothy’s tornado-twisting home in the The Wizard of Oz, or to something more

literal (grounded, maybe?), like this crazy/wonderful example from Costa Rica (photo courtesy But the term is actually historical and refers

to early 20th century Craftsman bungalows with a second level popping above ground floor “wings” like a fuselage or expanded cockpit, as shown in this 1920example (image courtesy Antique Home Style). But it could also refer to the

latest Prairie style design (shown above) by influential architect and Not So Big House author Sarah Susanka, which, I am excited to announce, is now available as Libertyville Not So Big Showhouse Plan 454-12, in our Signature Studio. It’s part of her Not So Big House Plans Collection. In fact, Sarah has reinvented the airplane bungalow for today and given it a New Urbanist flight plan. The three bedroom, three bath structure

was built as a showhouse on a tight 29 foot-wide lot in Libertyville, Illinois, about forty-five minutes from Chicago, for innovative developer John McLinden of SchoolStreet Homes. It anchors a new infill neighborhood of porch-fronted

row houses and illustrates Sarah’s Not So Big® principles. I’ll focus on several features here (and more will be discussed in a later post).

Entry is at the side between kitchen/dining area and the living space. Note how space flows easily from front to rear: no boxy compartments or long hallways here! Partial enclosures define activity areas without closing one space off from the other so everything seems more spacious despite the long narrow layout. The

plan is flexible, with some areas able to multi-task. At the front is the light-filled kitchen that opens to the neighborly sitting porch. Then there is the bench-

wrapped breakfast booth off to one side. A little farther along this axis is the
library alcove — with its great lens-like picture window — that occupies a section

of the living room. The stairway to the bedrooms on the upper  floor is at the back of the house (behind the screen) rather than across from the entry, as is traditional. Sarah explains, this “allows the main living spaces to connect to each other without the division of a staircase between them. The stairway serves as both a light shaft and passive cooling system, allowing light from above to penetrate to the main level. When the upper windows are opened, air is pulled up and out.” (The house meets the standards of Energy Star 3.0.) The backyard

is the roof of the garage — visible at far left of the second floor plan shown here

— and combines an attractive porch with built-in seating near the top of the stairway off the hobby-laundry room, along with a small garden and a deck. This private backyard retreat is the perfect complement to the more public front porch. Just another example of how Sarah’s Libertyville Not So Big Showhouse Plan allows for multiple choice within a limited context. It’s the row house redefined: an updated airplane bungalow cleared for take-off. (For Sarah’s comprehensive explanation of the design see her article in Professional Builder.) For more about Sarah Susanka and her Not So Big Houses visit Time To Build blog.

2 responses to “New Departures for the Airplane Bungalow

  1. Dan, really enjoyed and sincerely appreciate your article on the Libertyville NSB home…big fan of Sarah and her work!

  2. Pingback: Road Testing Your New Home | EYE ON DESIGN by Dan Gregory

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