9 of the narrowest homes in the world

  • Photo by Bartek Warzecha, courtesy of Jakub Szczesny

    The spectrum of reasons for building a narrow house is pretty wide.

    Some of the world's skinniest homes went up out of spite, like a 7-foot-wide house in Virginia built by a 17th century homeowner who wanted to keep his neighbors from using the alley near his property. Others, like London's "Gap House," were built by curious architects who wanted to take on a challenging space. Then there's Keret House in Warsaw, Poland, which was constructed as a sober reminder of the tragedies that took place there during World War II and a symbol of how the area has moved forward.

    Regardless of why a thin home was constructed, its inhabitants are forced to invent creative strategies for accomplishing day-to-day tasks -- and avoiding claustrophobia. John West, who lives in the skinniest home in Washington, D.C., cultivates extended outdoor spaces. George Gund IV, who lives in New York's narrowest abode, uses existing architectural quirks (like a trapdoor leading to the basement) to make life a little easier.

    Here are nine homes that challenge how much space people really need to live.

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    Ilyce R. Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, best-selling book author and founder of Best Money Moves, an employee benefit program that helps reduce financial stress. She also owns ThinkGlink.com, where readers can find real estate and personal finance resources.