WINTHROP and Jeanne Faulkner -- whose professions are the outs and ins of the design of houses -- have built a new house for themselves. Their work suggests some ideas for other people on how to design a house and a heating plant that grows and shrinks with the here today, gone tomorrow life of a family with college age children.

When you're first married you can get along with a small place. As more and more children arrive and acquire model trains and steroes and friends, you need vast amounts of space, at least a room per child. And then, when you finally have it all worked out, they go off to school or work or get married.

The Faulkners have built three houses to suit varying family situations.In fact, they have built their own neighborhood: three houses for themselves (the first two sold to pay for the next), and two extra houses, all bordering on the same piece of land -- a 10-acre Cleveland Park block. In the center of the block is Rosedale (now a youth center). The historic federal farm house was bought in 1920 by Faulkner's grandfather, Avery Coonley, who once commissioned one of the most famous of the Frank Lloyd Wright houses.

When Coonley's daughter married the late architect Waldron Faulkner, they built a fine Art Moderne house that still ornaments the block, just below Rosedale. In 1963, Winthrop Faulkner designed his first house for his wife and three children. In 1968, his second house was for their five children. Now their third house is finished. The five children are from 12 to 22 years old, but not everybody is home at once.

"So we built a house with three heating/cooling systems. The top floor can be closed off and 'deserted' when they're not home." Faulkner said, as he showed me through the new house. Faulkner, of Wilkes and Faulkner architects, designed it himself. His wife, an interior designer with Faulkner Design Associates, is responsible for the inside and the landscaping.

The new house is triplicated. The two other similar houses built at the same time are completely detached, on triangular 7,000-square-foot lots adjacent to a 1,500-square-foot garden with a 16-by-40-foot community swimming pool. Richard Cimermanis was general contractor for all the houses, and James Madison Cutts was the structural engineer.

Each house has Revere Solar collectors to assist the three Carrier Inc. electric heat pumps. The walls and sheathing boast an insulating factor of 13. The roofs have eight inches of Fiberglass and two inches of rigid urethane. Some passive solar heat is added by the 6-by-12-foot greenhouses and south-facing windows, all appropriately covered with awnings or shades in the summer. The Hopes steel windows were weatherstripped at the factory and glazed with insulated bronze tinted glass. Clyde Hurst III was responsible for the solar design.

From the street, the three-story-and-basement houses look all the same: brick veneer (painted white, grey and beige) with stained redwood diagonal panels recessed four-feet-deep in the upper west facades. The houses show their independence from the street. The slope of the ground (six feet at the house level) means the pedestrian comes up 10 steps to the brick fence and its gate. The family automobile comes in through an adjacent arch. Faulkner likes to think of the houses as courtyard houses, in the Mies van der Rohe tradition. The houses are enclosed by high brick fences, which shelter them from the street.

With experience in buying groceries for five children -- none of whom are ever home when you have to carry the bags in -- Faulkner cleverly provided a dumb waiter from the garage level, going up to the kitchen level on the ground floor and then to the sitting room on the second floor. In one of the other houses, there's a four-passenger elevator instead of the dumb waiter.

We came into the Faulkner house through a 7-by-8-foot entry hall with an egg-crate mirrored ceiling and a marble floor. At this point, there's a choice. Straight ahead is what some people now call the Great Room -- though it's also been called the family room, the keeping room, and so on. As Faulkner put it, "Each room leaks into the other."

In this case, the room is mostly kitchen, with a small command post at street level for Jeanne Faulkner -- her interior-design office phone rings here as well. The huge stove is a Vulcan restaurant range, a big refrigerator-freezer and the dumbwaiter, all built into a 30-foot-long, 3-foot-deep storage wall with rounded ends.

On the hall side, the wall holds 2,000 books by Faulkner's count. A&K Wwoodwork Co. were the cabinetmakers for the white pine cabinets with curved doors.

The end of the room has two five-foot round tables, marbleized by Ralph Hinchman of Litchfield, Conn. The marbleized tops are protected with three coats of urethane. The comfortable Stendig seating is upholstered in silk velvet. The greenhouse estends from this section. Sliding glass doors lead to the garden with its 16 Bradford Calley pear trees.

The carpet on the staircase, by Jack Lenor Larsen, certainly makes you watch your feet. It's a knockout grey, black and brown flame stitch on beige. wAnother Larsen design is used as a living-room rug.

The master bedroom, entered through a dressing room, has a bed with a built-in semicircular headboard with separate and equal lights, and a petite-point embroidered rose-pattern cover, designed by Jeanne Faulkner; it's a reflection of a floral painting by Mame Cohalan that hangs on the wall. The study, or sitting room, has Italian furniture in rust, navy and maroon -- colors suggested by Brockie Stevenson's painting, "Purple Mansard," that's on the wall.

The works of the dumbwaiter, the wheels, painted in cheerful colors by a Faulkner son, are set like a painting behind a glass panel. A deck leads off this room. On the same floor is a taupe, chocolate and white bedroom with a Interlubke wall system -- a desk, closets, bookcases and two fold-out beds.

On the third floor are two or three bedrooms, depending on how you figure it. In the middle area is a dias, where any number of people can collapse to listen to music, or sleep or study. A light window is set into the floor by the staircase to help light the stair on the floor below.

The two other houses are different on the inside, as befits the owners, J. Robert Porter, and Betsy and George Frampton. One has a laundry room, a large kitchen, and a dining room with a fireplace and hemlock ceilings on the first floor. The other has a two-story dining room with an arched ceiling. In one, the living room, study and deck are on the second floor. Plantings and the walls give each house privacy from the other.

Ways of living change, as do the times and circumstances. The Faulkners move with the times.