Weird Designs/Layouts in Old Houses

worthyFebruary 27, 2011

Piggybacking on the thread "weird things found in old houses", how about strange houses and designs?

My contribution, with which I've bored my teen daughter too many times like the rambling senior I am, relates to an apparently normal 1970s split level I was inspecting in my real estate hat for a client. Living and dining room on one level, six steps up to the kitchen, another level up for the bedrooms. The rec and utility room was a few steps down from the entry level--a long room at least 25' by 15' wide. At the end a doorway, a turn and a full staircase down to another rec and utility room, this one empty. At the end of that room, another door, a turn and a full staircase down to another empty rec and utility room. At the end, repeat. Four levels. I was disoriented and distinctly queasy. All those science fiction tales I used to read for endless hours were welling together and coming true. But at last no more doors. I traced my way up, and up and up and out, only yielding to a vast sigh of relief when I exited the front door. Twenty years ago and that awful empty layercake still appears in my nightmares.

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Were there below-grade wood-framed floors, or poured concrete on pans? If wood, yuk. Dry rot central. If concrete, yeah! Wine cellar, model trains, people with bunker mentalities.
But I guess it could feel like "The House on Haunted Hill" or that bachelor pad in Silence of the Lambs.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 10:55AM
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The house was on a slope with the first three "rec" rooms above-grade, (I think) the last below.

Permit me one among many other disorienting homes I've been in: a modest 1940s ranch with a beautifully finished basement kitchen-- the owner was a chef. Once in the basement, there was a second exit that led up to a large airy family room with a cathedral ceiling and a glass-walled view of beautiful gardens. This room was only accessible through the basement entrance and was not connected to the main house. Like entering another dimension. But just where did it come from?

The prosaic explanation: it was the home's attached double garage that had been illegally converted; on the streetside exterior, the garage doors and driveway remained intact.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:30AM
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A good part of the reason that split level homes were introduced in the first place was to take advantage of building on sloped land.

I would not, however, call a house that was built in 1970 "an old house".

What would that make me, having been born before 1970???

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 4:14PM
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worthy, your stories really had me wondering. Both layouts you described sounded creepy to me until I learned the reason why they were done. lol!

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 7:04PM
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How about an eight level house with each room on a different level and each level taking roughly half the footprint, so:

Basement level
Garage level with laundry 1/2 flight up
Entry and LR level 1/2 flight up
Bedroom-or den/Powder
Bedroom/full bath
Master Bedroom
Master Bath, closet, deck.

As each room was entered from a flight of stairs, there were no doors on any of the rooms except the bathrooms and the Master which didn't really have a door but had a strange hatch that was like a folding bulkhead to an exterior basement entrance. All yours for almost $600K

    Bookmark   February 28, 2011 at 11:10PM
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What would that make me, having been born before 1970???

A living relic? (Says one conceived as the Americans began crossing the Rhine into Germany. And not for a springtime holiday.)

All yours for almost $600K

I would have thought ÃÂ¥, built on some impossible postage stamp lot.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 2:22AM
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I did once see a kitchen with a toilet and shower in it. On a gold rug. I imagine it would be handy if you were into slow cooking.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2011 at 9:20PM
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There are nine foot lots in the city. They are no longer legal to build on, but there was a house on a nine foot wide lot in the listing recently. It was combined with it's back to back partner to at least make it deep, but all the rooms were by definition hallway or bowling alley shaped. Keep in mind this is a realtor's wide angle shot.

I also know a contractor who worked on the last installations of what he said could only be an o rgy room: carpeted platforms, speakers and elaborate scene lighting, a series of vinyl covered mattresses, mirrored walls (and some ceiling) and a large gang shower. Apparently different crews had been brougth in for different stages of the project to conceal its ultimate purpose but at the end --how could it not be apparent?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2011 at 10:47AM
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