Demand for smaller homes fuels new trend in central Indiana

Clare Grimonprez

There is a growing trend and demand for smaller homes. While condominiums have filled a void for empty nesters and first-time home buyers, one north side developer is using a decades-old idea to build neighborhoods, not subdivisions.

It is not the house or neighborhood for everyone, but according to the developer/builder of Inglenook neighborhood, it will bring the extrovert in you out.

"The neighbors will draw you out," said developer Casey Land. It is the neighborhood for those who don't want to be like everyone else.

Neighborhoods like Inglenook are not a new idea. "Pocket" neighborhood homes are built with the front porch facing a common green space. Driveways and garages are in back connected by a shared alleyway.

Decades ago, neighborhoods like this filled a void when land became scarce in big cities. But as the suburbs grew, neighborhoods like this became less fashionable. While home buyers opted for larger homes and yards, they also became more isolated from neighbors. The shared space encourages community, Land says.

Clare Grimonprez and her husband recently moved to Carmel from France. They choose this new neighborhood in Carmel for its charm, and they picked the house because it's easy to care for.

"It is similar in the way that we don't have huge houses," she said. "We are used to small spaces, and the space is well used.

Grimonprez says she didn't want a home where the garage dominated the front. "I like the garage in the back," she said.

With no driveway in the front of the home, "the kids can run. We just need more kids now!" she joked.

Grimonprez also likes the open floor plan and natural light, along with the porch.

Casey Land wanted to build a neighborhood that didn't use as much land and wanted it to be more than a subdivision.

"We are building a neighborhood, not just building a house," said Land.

By using the pocket neighborhood concept, along with homes designed by Seattle architect Ross Chapin, Land came up with Inglenook.

"I tell everybody to think form and function versus square footage," Land said.

According to Land, the homes are very energy efficient. They're also deceptive in size, which is the point of the design.

"You don't have the formal entry way. You don't have the formal dining room," said Land. 

Unlike other developments that dot the north side landscape, this neighborhood doesn't have retention ponds. All of the parking areas and driveways are brick set on top of five feet of gravel which allows storm water to soak into the ground. Land says that makes it safer for children.

Another feature that makes Inglenook safer: since the homes all face each other, visitors are spotted right away.

"When your visitors park on the street, they walk in. You know who is a visitor. You know who belongs here. It's a nice, soft security system," said Land.

Inglenook Carmel

Ross Chapin