Thirty years ago, city planners talked enthusiastically about infill building. They didn't want Boise to give way to urban sprawl, but instead to build on existing lots within the city limits first. It is ironic that now "skinny houses," which have become the infill home of choice for many builders, have gotten a bad name. The reason for this is that usually "skinny houses" are built on substandard sized lots: 25 feet by 120 feet; also, people don't like builders buying up several houses, tearing them down, and building several skinny houses in a row. Finally, sometimes builders don't build garages for the houses but just pour a slab of concrete in the front of the house for parking. In fact, 25 feet by 120 feet lots were standard size in historic Boise, as in many cities, but that certainly isn't the case now. I personally don't mind the look of skinny houses since they have some old-fashioned craftsmen features that I like: the front porches for instance. I even like them all in a row on narrow lots, because, again, that is rather old-fashioned. What I don't like is houses with no garages and a slab of concrete for parking in the front. I think if there is no alley access where a two-car garage can be built, or room in the front, the houses shouldn't be allowed. When I see a house, I want to see a house, not a whole line of cars parked in front.
So just to see what it was like on the inside, I went to see a skinny house with no garage on the Bench's South Atlantic Street. This address is about two blocks south of Overland Road and two blocks west of Owyhee Street. The house is sided in olive green with white trim and has a very nice covered front porch with railings.
The red front door opens onto a landing at the foot of the stairs and into the great room. There are charming bay windows at the front of the living room. Between the living and dining room/kitchen is a utility room under the stairs, and a half bathroom with attractive vinyl flooring. The kitchen is quite nice with a breakfast bar, a sink under corner windows (one of my favorites), a smooth-top stove and a dining area. The counters are topped with very attractive vinyl edged in wood, and the appliances are stainless steel. The kitchen/dining room and the entry way are floored in Pergo laminate flooring. There's also a pantry and a door to the back yard in the dining room. All the first floor windows are covered in bamboo shades.
Up the carpeted stairway are two bedrooms. The master bedroom connects to a bathroom with a shower/tub combination, very nice vinyl floors and countertops in the same vinyl as in the kitchen. A second door leads out of the bathroom into the hallway, allowing access from other than just the bedroom. The front bedroom has the same lovely bay window as the living room below, and these bedrooms, the living room and the stairs are wall-to-wall carpeted in off-white.
The back yard is fully fenced, with grass and two dogwood trees. A dog door and a dog run are included in the sale. The yard offers plenty of room for a play area for kids, pets, a garden or just for enjoying the outdoors.
Pros: This house is affordable for a first-time home buyer, and goodness knows that's a need in today's real estate market. I like the inside of the house, especially the kitchen with its corner window. I've lived in townhouses that were laid out just like this one, and they were very comfortable. It's nice to have a half-bath on the first floor. The front porch is darling and would be fun to use.
Cons: Again, I would prefer a garage.