How to identify a good 1-bedroom layout

How to identify a good 1-bedroom layout
PHOTO: Stackedhomes

Whether you are looking at a 1 bedroom unit for an investment or to stay, there’s no question that having an efficient layout is one of, if not the most important aspect to consider. Especially in the case of a new launch condo – at such small sizes already, it is even more crucial that every inch is utilised properly. 

And while 1 bedroom units have been getting more efficient over the years, there are still many different points that you should look out for. 

Take these two floor plans below for example, which do you think is a better use of space?

A 1 bedroom unit at Lincoln Suites at 463 square feet, or a 1 bedroom at Pullman Residences at the same 463 square feet?

For those of you who answered B, great job. If you’ve answered A, well, I’d advise you to read on. 

Despite being the same size on paper, the unit at Lincoln Suites will undoubtedly feel smaller in person. That’s because of the excessive bay window and planters used (in addition to the balcony). As such even though it is the same size, you’d realise that the living and dining areas are smaller in size. The worse part? When guests come over you’d need to enter and walk through the bedroom to get to the bathroom!

Contrast this to the unit at Pullman Residences. High maintenance fees aside, it is just a much better laid out unit. You have a dedicated space for dining which can just about cater to 4 people, and a Jack & Jill bathroom layout just makes things much simpler for everyone.

So to me, a good 1 bedroom unit should tick some or rather most of these boxes:

  • A proper bedroom, that separates the living and sleeping area. (ideally with walls and doors instead of an open plan; as it provides privacy especially when you have guests over).
  • A decent kitchen area with countertop space for storage, kitchen appliances, and meal prep. 
  • As we all know, most one bedders layouts are open kitchen layouts, so it is a plus point if it comes with enclosed or ventilation windows.
  • A detached or Jack & Jill bathroom access over an attached bathroom via the bedroom. In this way, guests will not need to pass through the bedroom to access the bathroom.
  • Love it or hate it; In-unit household shelter does take up space, especially in an area that is already so small. While it can be used as storage space, it is very inflexible if you rather just have the extra space. As a compromise, storage cabinets provided by developers or space where storage cabinets could be added is a great bonus.
  • Balcony space over planters or bay windows. For obvious reasons, the balcony area has greater flexibility when it comes to space usage. Especially since the pandemic, more owners start to value the balcony area as it provides an outdoor escape. More often than not, this will double up as a yard space to dry clothes.
  • A bonus area that could be used as a work office/guest room is a huge plus.

Post-2012, we are seeing more efficient unit layouts with fewer bay windows and planter boxes which were common design traits prior.  Here are some examples of what I consider to be good one bedroom unit layouts that you can find in the market today.

Good modern 1 bedroom unit types

452 sq ft found in High Park Residences

Plus Points Less Ideal
Squarish and efficient unit layout. Tight dining area, alternatively, one could opt for al-fresco dining in the balcony area
Storage cabinets provided by the entrance Lack of a bathroom window for natural ventilation
Good kitchen countertop length but it comes with a compromise of the tight dining area  
Decent sized bedroom with dedicated living and sleeping area  
Comes with a decent-sized study area with ventilation windows; great for WFH/HBL setting  
The study could be converted into a guest room as it is able to accommodate a single-size bed or even a fold away sofa bed  
Small AC ledge tucked neatly next to the balcony. This allows for full-length bedroom windows  

463 sq ft found in Millage

Plus Points Less Ideal
Squarish and efficient unit layout Narrow balcony – dedicated washer area in the balcony makes the area smaller
Storage cabinets provided by the entrance Tight living and dining area
The in-unit household shelter could be used as storage space AC ledge limits the view of the bedroom, leaving it with half-length windows 
The study could be converted into a guest room as it is able to accommodate a single-size bed/sofa bed The kitchen is on the small side

Not so good 1 bedroom unit types

In the late through the early 2010s, we have also seen compact shoebox units with bay windows/planter boxes as one of the common design traits during the era – which has resulted in less than desirable layouts.

452 sq ft in Leicester Suites

Plus Points Less Ideal
Dedicated study area with ventilation windows and door Tight living, dining, and kitchen areas
Neatly flushed wardrobe, which is a good size Narrow balcony area
In-unit household shelter; great for storage Double AC Ledges take up space
The bathroom comes with ventilation windows; great for natural ventilation Location of the bathroom is not as ideal

258 sq ft in Suites @ Guillemard

Plus Points Less Ideal
Separate living and sleeping areas with sliding doors separating the two areas. Very small unit area
Great wardrobe space Bay windows take up space and hinder space planning
A good number of window panels surrounding the unit; allows for more natural light and ventilation in the unit. The platform bed has to be built over bay windows to be able to fit in a bed
  Narrow living area
  Small kitchen space with a lack of countertop space

614 sq ft in The Minton

Plus Points Less Ideal
Good sized kitchen with countertop space A completely open-plan layout, may not be ideal for everyone
Spacious bedroom area Overly large planter and bay window which takes up space
A small AC ledge tucked by the study area  
May not be the largest study area but at least it is a useable area.  

452 sq ft in Imperial Heights

Plus Points Less Ideal
Proper yard area for laundry – a rarity in one bedder units Planter boxes and balcony area takes up space
Decent length of kitchen countertop space which doubles as a dining area too. Tight living and dining area
The bathroom comes with ventilation windows; great for natural ventilation  

In early 2000-2010, One bedder is spacious in terms of square footage. However, layouts are less efficient with bay windows, planter boxes, and odd layouts. All in all, less efficient. Here are some examples:

592 sq ft in Southbank

Plus Points Less Ideal
Spacious unit size for a one bedder unit. Wasted bay window space surrounding the perimetre of the unit
Squarish unit layout The unit opens straight to the living/dining area; lacks privacy 
The in-unit household shelter which doubles as storage space and wardrobe Protruding structural columns by the window bay hinders the view and takes up space
Neatly tucked A/c ledge hidden by the entrance area with window panel for access With the bathroom located in the bedroom, guests have to pass through the bedroom for access to the bathroom
Great size kitchen with ample countertop space The kitchen area lacks a ventilation window
The bathroom comes with proper window panels; great for natural ventilation Lack of balcony area, a downside for those that value some outdoor space

667 sq ft in The Parc Condo

Plus Points Less Ideal
Squarish unit layout Tight dining area
Dedicated study area which is a good size Bay windows and planter box takes up space
Ventilation window for the kitchen  
Window panels in the bathroom which are great for natural ventilation  
Small AC ledge neatly tucked by the study area.  

When all is said and done, you really do have to go beyond just looking at the floor plan. As much as floor plans are useful to compare between units, going down to see the unit can often result in a different experience.

This is because floor plans don’t disclose features like ceiling heights, the size of the windows, the views and light that comes in, as well as the design and colours of the space – which can all play a part in making the space feel bigger or smaller.

This article was first published in Stackedhomes.

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