Quonset huts, those silvery, half-moon metal buildings designed for use during World War II, present challenges in room design. The inward curved walls don’t present flat surfaces, so pushing furniture against the walls is awkward and hanging pictures is difficult. Elements in other homes that require little thought, like closets, need careful thought or workable alternatives. But the buildings are economical compared to a stick built home, and leave lots of room to use your imagination in your design choices.
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Design an open floor plan. While it’s possible to simply build a house inside a Quonset hut, doing so adds to the cost and removes the charm of living in a Quonset. Enclose rooms that need privacy, like bathrooms or children’s bedrooms.
Plan a loft that either runs side to side the width of the Quonset or from front to back, lengthwise. Smaller Quonset huts won’t have a lot of headroom in a loft, so use it for storage or a simple sleeping area with a low bed. Larger huts accommodate full-sized second floors. A rolling library ladder provides access to a small loft. A staircase leading to the second story is suitable for a larger building.
Center the kitchen in the Quonset and don’t build walls around it. Since the kitchen won’t have upper cabinets, a wall oven is impractical. Make the kitchen space large enough to accommodate more than one under counter refrigerator if necessary. A hood fan over the stove with the pipe extending all the way up to the roof of the Quonset adds a focal point.
Combine the dining and living area in the space that extends from the front of the building to the kitchen. Low cabinets along the walls in these spaces make the lower sections of the curved walls usable and add storage space.
Build bedrooms, an office or study in the space between the kitchen and the back of the Quonset. Closets are difficult to build on the curved walls, so either plan to build closets on interior walls or solve the closet question with armoires in each room.
Create the impression of a foyer by building a wall that extends halfway to the top of the arched roof. Since closet space is usually hard to come by in metal buildings, install wooden pegs on the wall for coats and build cubbies for boots and dirty shoes.
Use skylights liberally. Quonsets don’t lend themselves well to traditional windows in the walls, so natural light must come from above and from the ends of the building, where large doors and multiple windows illuminate the inside.
Tips and warnings
- Before you pour the slab for the Quonset hut, have a plumber lay out the pipes and connections for bathrooms and the kitchen. Do the same for the electrical.
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