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Small Portland prefab home stacks space to fit family of 3

When Matt Kirkpatrick and Katherine Bovee bought a half-sized lot in Portland, Oregon, instead of filling the reduced area with their home, they designed their living quarters to stack inside a compact, wooden box, leaving terrain outside for trees and a garden and ample space inside to live large in 704 square feet.

The home was pre-fabricated with structural insulated panels (SIPs) and assembled on their 50-by-50-foot lot in inner Southeast Portland. They moved from a similarly-sized home nearby, but their new home uses space more efficiently, mostly by stacking functions: the kitchen doubles as the dining room and living room, the bedroom doubles as both their, and their one-year-old daughter’s bedroom as well as her play space, Bovee’s home-office (in the lofted bedroom area stacked on top of their closet and sink) and access to their rooftop garden/summer dining area.

Since Kirkpatrick is also an architect (Design for Occupancy Architecture) he was able to custom-design spaces like the nested, two-way shelves that house their extensive book and record collection on the living room side and their toiletries on the opposite wall inside the bathroom. The bathroom is custom-finished with a water-saving greywater toilet/sink combo and a large soaking tub. The kitchen/living room furniture was custom-designed to create unity within the space-expanding elements like a kitchen table and side table that fit together for larger dinner parties.

They do have the option to build out a bit larger as their daughter grows, but for now they’re happy with their compact space. “A larger house, it’s more expensive to build, it’s more difficult to maintain,” explains Kirkpatrick. “We could maintain a higher price per square foot and splurge on higher finishes because we only had one bathroom to install, we only have just over 700 square feet of space to do everything with,” adds Bovee, “so this is what allowed us to build luxury.”