By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Guest Architect: Joseph DiGrado

Danielian and Associates Architects

Irvine, Calif., 949-474-6030

Q: How can I create private outdoor space in the close confines of a Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) design?

A: Many municipalities and master planned communities have strict design guidelines that require rear-loaded garages to help improve the look of the streetscape. The problem is that with the garage in the rear, there is no room for the private open space of a traditional backyard. There are, however, some ways to carve out private outdoor space even on very small lots.

Best face forward: The absence of garages creates street-friendly architecture in this small-lot, alley-loaded community. Each of the plans features a front porch, and some even have a second-story porch for additional outdoor space.

3,290-square-foot plan on a 50-by-103-foot lot

  • Even with a three-car garage, there is still some room for a usable side yard.
  • Moving the kitchen and family room to the rear of the plan makes room for a large central courtyard.
  • The courtyard allows extra light and air deep into the narrow floor plan.
  • A generous covered porch provides some sheltered private space up front.
  • 2,865-square-foot plan on a 50-by-103-foot lot

  • Pushing the living spaces to the front of the plan and using just a two-car garage or three-car tandem frees up usable rear yard space.
  • Proper landscaping serves as a buffer from close neighbors.
  • The dining room opens to a private side courtyard, creating an extension of the home's living and entertaining space.
  • The large, wraparound front porch creates space for relaxing or socializing with neighbors.