Odds & Ends » Home Sweet Home

1912 N. 14th St.


I am pretty sure this has to be the smallest house I've ever featured-the square footage is not a typo (although I question the number of bedrooms listed). I think this house is fantastic simply based on the size and character. The particular style, often called a 'shotgun', is thought to have been conceived of as a way to deal with dense urban living-these slender (typically one room wide) houses on narrow little lots suited fast-growing cities. Seen a lot in the Southeast, how or why they came out west to Boise is a mystery to me. According to the owner, very few still exist. The North End is probably the densest neighborhood in Boise and is becoming more so, not just with infills, but with more house per lot. People are going nuts in expanding their modestly sized, historic homes of 1,000-1,200 square feeet to 2,000-plus square feet-the backyard is being devoured by the 400 square foot master bedroom suite, complete with his and her sinks and a bunch of beige tile. I guess little Jimmy and Suzie can go play in the street with the traffic cause Mommy and Daddy need their space. But back to the house.

This simple, gabled-front house with sky blue siding and white trim has managed to integrate itself quite nicely with its larger, more complex neighbors. The screened-in front porch is charming and looks original. The front room and dining area feel spacious, thanks to the 10-foot ceilings and large picture window that looks out to the front yard. A wood-burning stove planted on an Oakley stone hearth serves as a focal point between the two spaces. The walls and ceiling of the living area are wood planks (not paneling) painted white and, coupled with the stained wood floors, offer an interesting contrast. The planks transition to stained paneling as you move into the dining area. The bathroom sits just off of the dining area. This room is decked out in paneling, sheet vinyl and a tiled shower, along with the other necessities. The character of the house quickly changes in transitioning to the kitchen. Here the ceilings are low, the flooring is vinyl and the walls a mix of paneling and brick. An interesting and uneasy mix of materials and colors that the stained paneled cabinets and beige countertops only make worse. For a rental (which this house has been for several years), this set up is fine, but for a house it will be a project. The bedroom(s) is located in an addition to the house. The ceilings are low and the floor is carpeted. What is considered the second bedroom of the house I mistook for the closet to the first bedroom. I suppose the window air conditioning unit might have clued me in-but it's so tiny.

Pros: Eat, work, sleep, entertain in limited space-a challenge! It has this certain quality or comfort-perhaps it's the iconic gabled roof "house" form or the transition from the street to house through a 90-year old porch, I don't know-but I like it. This type of infill (odd back then that this is what these narrow houses were considered) presents odd assortments of lot sizes, house configurations and styles which bring in people with different lifestyles and economic situations. That's a good thing. This is not some subdivision-it's the North End.

Cons: Needs some work-not only cosmetically, but probably structurally. There was definitely a "dip" in the floor, but who doesn't have a few issues at 90. I fear this sweet gem of a house will not survive the trend to buy, tear down and build big. The narrow lot size-approximately 20 feet and with current set back requirements-may prevent that from happening. The size and price-this is not New York or San Francisco.

"Home Sweet Home" features local, unique, historically or architecturally significant houses for sale. To suggest a house to be featured, e-mail editor@boiseweekly.com.