Shotgun Floorplans

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Three bay shotgun
Three bay shotgun (large window in front replaces two former smaller windows)

Yesterday we walked through the Shotgun House Tour. It was awesome to see how creative people can be with floorplans of a narrow rectangular house with no original hallways. Most of the show homes were four-bay (former doubles converted to singles, approx 12′ wide on each side) but a couple were three-bay homes (a single with a sidehall). (Sidenote: basically count the windows and doors across the front of the house to determine how many “bays.”) Photo taking was prohibited, but it inspired me to share photos of Shotgun floorplans that I have collected over the last few years. Most of these are doubles converted to singles, but one still has a small apartment remaining, similar to our floorplan.

—– skip to the gallery of floorplans. ——

Q: Why are these Shotgun floorplans interesting?

Four-bay Shotgun with 3 bedrooms and large Master/en suite
Shotgun with 3 bedrooms and large Master/en suite

A: Because there are so many constraints to changing the shotgun floorplan that it takes creativity and problem solving.

Structural Prohibitions

With doubles, typically the structural walls are the exterior walls and the center wall that divided the two units, which has implications for updating the floorplan. Structural changes usually requires stamped plans and a lot more money. To avoid major structural changes in renovating a double, people typically try to keep the center wall intact as much as possible, adding only openings for doorways in the center, structural wall. Obviously, this is a huge constraint on creativity for the floorplan. Look how the center wall is mostly intact in these images.

Width Constraints

My Favorite Four Bay floor plan. They created a foyer (absent in shotguns) with two new closets and created a public bathroom that is still semi private for the two bedrooms. Almost no wasted space here.
Four bay, converted to single with foyer

With each side being only approx 12′ wide, it’s tough to add a 4′ hallway, because that only leaves an 8′ wide room. For a small bedroom, that can be fine, but it is difficult to get a queen sized bed into an 8′ wide room.  Anywhere a hallway is added, the remainder of that side will inherently be a small space. See how in the floorplan on the right, the hallways are added next to bathrooms so that the remaining width of the 12′ is usable?

Window Constraints

In original shotgun floorplans, the windows are centered on the exterior wall of each room. And in double shotguns, the windows are only on the exterior side of the house, because the interior wall is shared with the other unit. Which means that you have to carefully draw new walls so that rooms aren’t left without windows and, hopefully, so that the windows aren’t awkwardly placed into an extreme corner of your new room. Changing window placement = money.

Shotgun Floor Plan Gallery