U-Shaped House Plans (with Drawings)
An intriguing thing about houses is how they come in many different shapes and sizes but still share similar traits. For example, a ranch-style home, a modern multi-level design, or a country cottage all look very different. However, the odds are good that these homes would all have a kitchen, living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, and indoor laundry.
U-shaped houses are ranch-style homes and are one of many designs you can find when it comes to house layouts. The style is defined by its U shape, which wraps around a central outdoor area, usually a pool or courtyard. Because of the design, these homes offer various ways to access multiple rooms and often require a wider lot.
Depending on your budget and lot size, a U-shaped home can be as simple or as lavish as you want to make it. Either way, it offers some interesting opportunities for maneuvering around your home since the layout is so spread out.
Pros and Cons of a U-Shaped Floorplan
No matter what floorplan you choose for your home, you’ll have some pros and cons. When it comes to a U-shaped layout, many upsides and downsides depend on your home’s design specifics.
Potential Downsides of a U-Shaped House
If you have an average-sized lot, some U-shaped homes feature more narrow rooms to accommodate the size of the lot. This means that your livable space may only be one room wide, say a 20’ x 20’ living room. Although this is a decent-size space, it might not give you the open feel you want.
In some designs, you have to walk through every shared living space before reaching other parts of the house. It can also get a bit choppy if you’re not careful when planning the layout and placement of your rooms.
Another thing to keep in mind is U-shaped homes are based on the idea of a central outdoor showstopper. This usually means lots of windows, which is excellent, but it also lets in lots of sun and heat. Therefore, just prepare for this by taking extra precautions for things like shade and cooling.
Upsides of a U-Shaped House
The good news is, this layout has a lot of good points. Plus, you can fix many of the downsides with some creative solutions and careful forethought.
U-shaped homes allow the opportunity for an incredible wow moment with the wrap-around feature. You can create a stunning, lush courtyard, relaxing pool area, or a killer outdoor entertaining space. Adding lots of windows on the walls that face this area can open up your whole space and look fantastic. Plus, you have more opportunities to add exterior windows throughout your home, on both sides, letting in tons of natural light.
If you’re able to get a more considerable lot, then you can build wider wings. This helps take away that feeling of your house being a long, U-shaped hallway.
You can also add fun features like a wrap-around porch or put sliding doors in every room facing the courtyard. This looks great but also adds convenience, allowing you to have more direct access to certain rooms.
Possible Layouts for U-Shaped Houses
As you can see from the pros and cons, your home’s layout is vital. How you plan your layout is a significant factor in how well your home will function. While a U-shaped house will obviously have a U-shaped layout, you can still do lots of different things.
Simple U-Shaped House
This simple layout would be a good option for those wanting a U-shaped house but working with a smaller lot. This way, you still have room for the obligatory central courtyard and decent-sized rooms in your U wings.
This three-bedroom layout places all of the bedrooms on one side of the home and shared spaces on the other. The entry is slightly off-center, but notice it faces the courtyard. This is worth noting since anything you wanted to place in the courtyard area would be visible to the public.
Of course, you could position a fence or tall hedges for privacy and solve that problem easily. However, for some people, orienting the front door toward the U could be because they want a grand entrance. For example, you could have a lush garden surrounding a fountain and elaborate walkways leading to the front door.
You’ll also notice the all of the bedrooms and the living room have large windows facing the outdoor area. The family room has a whole wall of windows, letting enormous amounts of natural light into the home.
U-Shaped House with Wrap-Around Porch
This floorplan places the courtyard in the back of the house, which is the case with many U-shaped homes. The large open courtyard leads to steps going down into a larger backyard area, pool, or even woods.
This layout also positions the shared spaces on one side and the bedrooms on the other. However, it does so with one huge exception. A wrap-around porch allows you to enter into several rooms without going through the house.
Plus, the addition of doors in the kitchen, family room, and some bedrooms gives you direct access to the courtyard. These extra doors make maneuvering around this property a bit more convenient and offer more privacy.
Luxury U-Shaped House
Of course, no matter the house style, you can always put your own spin on it. This luxury layout features a broader home, thanks to a larger lot size. Plus, unlike the first two layouts, this home offers a split-bedroom layout, placing the master suite opposite the other bedrooms.
The interesting part about this particular layout is the positioning of the shared spaces. They sit between the courtyard and the other parts of the house.
The bedrooms are toward the outer edge of the house, with the exception of the larger master suite. The master stretches the whole width of the wing. This gives the master direct access to the courtyard, the only bedroom that has it.
Otherwise, it’s just the shared spaces that lead out onto the backyard entertaining space. These rooms include a very expansive kitchen, living and dining area, as well as a game room. The home also features bonus rooms, including a theater space, lounge, and a giant front porch.
U-Shaped Home with Multiple Patios
This home also places the front door on the courtyard side of the house. There’s a long front walk through a grassy area that leads to a porch and the front door. The master bedroom has direct access to this porch area, giving it a private entrance.
This home doubles down on its outside living areas, though, with two additional large patios. The patios sit off of the dining room and kitchen, perfect for enjoying meals al fresco on pleasant days.
Sideways U-Shaped House
Another consideration when you’re planning a U-shaped layout is the orientation of your U. We’ve already looked at placing the front door on the inside or outside of the U. But, also think about which way your U will face.
In this layout, the U is sideways, with the front door on the side of one of the U wings. Looking at it from the front door perspective, it’s more of a C shape. You enter into shared spaces, then access the courtyard area from the dining room.
Can you have a two-story U-shaped house?
Primarily, a classic U-shaped house is a ranch-style home, meaning it sprawls out over one level. However, you can find two-story homes in a U-shape. However, the whole point of a U-shaped design is a central outdoor area that feels open and inviting. Therefore, with two stories, the outdoor area can feel overly shady if it’s surrounded on three sides by tall structures. Consulting with a skilled architect and landscaper can be a good starting point if you want a two-story U-design. For example, you might only add an upper floor to one wing of the U.Or, depending on your location, you could excavate and create a lower level below the main level. This way, you still get the classic U-design in appearance, with almost a secret extra floor. There are always different ways to look at things. So, use your imagination and work with a pro to come up with a layout that works best for you.
What are some ways to make the most of the interior courtyard area in a U-shaped home?
One of the most popular ways to set up the courtyard area of a U-shaped home is to put in a pool. However, if a pool’s not your thing, you can create a beautifully landscaped retreat with quaint sitting areas and lovely plants. If you plan to do a lot of entertaining, build out a deck or paved patio with multiple seating options. Install an outdoor kitchen and dining area and go all out with outdoor speakers. If you’re into sports and have the space, you could also do something like a small basketball or tennis court area. However, if you opt for this idea, ensure you take precautions with nearby windows. Your fun won’t last very long if you’re dealing with shattered glass. And, of course, if your main entrance is through the courtyard, you might want to consider a fountain or other grand feature. No matter what you decide on for your courtyard, maximize its potential by installing doors into the facing rooms. This is more so the case for rear courtyard areas. This way, people can step directly outside of their room without walking back through the house.
Are U-shaped houses the same thing as California Ranch houses?
California Ranch-style homes are a subset of the ranch-style. They were designed in 1932 by Cliff May, who was a California architect. These homes typically are one level, and the main focus of the design was to integrate it with the outdoors. This is what prompted the concept of an L or U-shape to wrap around a courtyard or patio. However, U-shaped homes now come in many different styles and can be more than one level. So, having a U-shape doesn’t automatically make a house a California Ranch.
Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.
More by Stacy Randall