What is considered a 'small house'

lukkiirishAugust 26, 2008

Just curious, what is your definition of a small house?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Listed on the opening page for this forum: "Living in a ranch, bungalow or cottage under 2000 square feet? Find out how other home owners are getting the most out of their small spaces -- including decorating, renovating and everyday living. Good things do come in small packages!"

For many here, 2000 sq. feet is considered to be "manor house" size! What size do you consider to be "small?"

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 8:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks so much for the info, I will have to check that out. I hadn't really thought about it until entering the forum, which is why I was curious. Our home is a 1700 sf colonial we bought 2 years ago. It's the first home we've owned so I don't have anything to really compare it to, and even though I don't consider it large, it's not very small either. Honestly, I just wasn't sure where we fit in, really. We're not fans of newer homes and/or the mini mcmansions. We tend to gravitate more to the casual and warm environment that a smaller home offers. Even my design tastes are geared more towards a smaller home.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 12:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I would consider a small house to be one that is smaller than one needs at a given time in life. Our house is 1600 sq ft, which I consider plenty for a family of 3 or even 4. We are planning a new build of 1200 sq ft, but it will just be for 2 empty-nesters. With a full basement, I consider it almost too big! Our first house was 800 sq ft, and it was fine until we had a child. I think I read somewhere that 500 sq ft per person was a sensible number, and I'd have to agree. I honestly think where you live can be a factor, too. Here in FL, you really don't need a lot of extra space, but in the far north, you're cooped up in the house by weather, and might need to allow a little more room so you don't get 'cabin happy'.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 12:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think hobbies might come into play in deciding how much is big enough too. The last house we had was smaller than the house we just moved into. I had built a studio separate from the house to do my arts in. Never worked for me because It was either too hot out there or too cold and I always felt removed from my hubby. So I used it for storage and had to go back and fourth to get things I needed . A real pain in the winter and four foot or more of snow on the ground.

Our new house is 1378 SQ FT plus a covered but not enclosed porch.One whole room is my studio room and office. This house feels large open and airy for us but is very comfortable.I still think it could be considered a smaller home.


    Bookmark   August 26, 2008 at 1:39PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes, under the forum rules it's 2000sf or smaller, which is just an arbitrary number but not an overly unreasonable one; a study in the last couple of years said that the average American home is now over 2400sf and getting bigger.

However, I WILL say that one of the most-often-heard complaints from buyers when we were selling our previous house (1900+sf Cape, 4 bedrooms and 2.5 baths!!!!) was "it's too small". And I do admit that it did "live smaller" than its stated square footage - the living and dining rooms and first-floor master bedroom were pretty tight quarters, the kitchen was a bit cramped, and there wasn't a lot of storage. A great deal of the square footage was wasted in a poorly designed second floor, which had two disproportionately large and quite dysfunctional bedrooms. So I hung out here despite my house being technically on the upper end of the "permissible" size because my house functioned like a house that was much smaller.

When we were househunting last year we set our range at 1000-1500sf. It seemed like a sensibly generous size to us without being too big, and the managed fine in a flgargoyle is also totally right about the cabin-fever issue - there are times in the winter where although I love my husband very, very much, I have got to get away from him for a bit before I go after him with a baseball bat, and going out in the foul weather isn't always really an option. So "escape space" is important.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2008 at 12:30PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our house is 1640 sq ft and I feel it's too big. We had it built 3 years ago because, at the time, I wanted a bigger, new house. This home has a 1240 sq ft basement and a 3 car garage on an acre we already owned. Our last house, which we kept to rent out, is 1265sq ft with a full basement, also on an acre. In our 60's now I'm thinking we may move back to the other house later or have a small house built on another acre we have. Just hate to move again.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2008 at 6:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

lol...My house is under 600 sq ft. I frequently come to this "smaller homes" forum to read thoughts and ideas about issues that face the "small home owner", like eating areas, for instance. Or entertaining. Or bathroom-sharing...

When I see a bunch of people talking about their 2000 sq ft 3 or 4 bedroom homes, I'm a little confused... These are "normal" homes. Actually, some of these I would consider on the larger side of normal. Why have a special forum for houses of these size? There's nothing patently unique about them that would warrant a subsection separate from the other forums.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 1:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Revamp, perhaps you should ask iVillage to add a "tiny houses" forum. If the average American house is 2400 sq ft, I suppose that one could say that 2000 sq ft and smaller are "small" houses. They are smaller than average.

I think that since houses have gotten larger in the last couple of decades, an area that has not had new house building going on during that time will have smaller homes than the national average.

Data from an NPR story shows that the average size of a new home in 1950 was 983 sq ft. In 1970 it was 1500 sq ft, in 1990 2080 sq ft, and in 2001 it was 2349 sq ft.

Remember all the post-war expansion in the early 1950s was due to pent-up demand when the men came back from war and got married. I think of that time as the first time in our history that young couples expected a home of their own - not living in an apartment, flat, or parent's home. The suburbs were born, center cities started being less desirable. It was when a long-term morgage became 'normal' and people did not save to buy land, then save to build on their paid-off land. I remember reading that earlier in the 20th century, you paid interest on a morgage and only paid back the principle in one lump sum, a few years after you got the mortgage.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2008 at 8:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Coming from a house of 2000 sq ft to 1100, I got to thinking about what was missing and/or different. My master is a bit smaller and without a walk in closet, there is one bath versus two and a half and no stairs with landings. These areas can easily account for the extra 600 sq.ft. lacking in my current home.

I chose to move down when realizing one person didn't need to be cleaning 3 toilets and the wasted space which couldn't be used for anything other than walking through. For those with families the extra ammenities are needed, but my guess is that their living areas are similar in size.

My smaller home's other two bedrooms, closets, kitchen and living room are actually the same size as the larger house. Given this reality, Smaller Homes forum with a 2000 foot print isn't far off. A 2000 could be 2 bedroom, 2 bath which would allow much larger rooms all around. But most of the larger homes (2000) are 3 to 4 bedrooms with 2 1/2 bath (perhaps a family room too) which probably leaves them with the same size rooms we have in the majority of our lesser sq. ft. homes.

I know there are many here with even smaller homes than mine, but the overall picture of our forum works well in seeking info for utilizing smaller spaces. I love the ideas and sharing here.

    Bookmark   August 31, 2008 at 8:37AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I guess what is small to one isn't small to another. the house we are building has 1544 sq. foot living space and with porches it is about 1900 sq. foot overall. To some that might seem small and to others "large". It is 3 bedroom, 2 bath and we put our main sq. footage in the living, my craft room, bedroom, master bath and closet. I keep looking at my kitchen and I know I will have some adjustment there as it is only 9x11..but I plan on making every inch count. we didn't see the need in putting a lot of space in the kitchen. I am not a gourmet cook and really...how much room can one person take up standing in front of the stove or sink?

on a side note...hubby and I were watching house hunters yesterday. A man and his daughter were house hunting. They saw a house that was about 3100 sq. foot in living and he said it was too small. man...how much room does it take for 2 people?

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 8:56AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

primbynature, Our kitchen is 10 by 12 and feels really large to us. It is open to the dinning area and living room making it live larger. I could easily get by with one foot less each side. It has a nice lay out and even a small walk in pantry. The pantry is what makes the space work so well for us. Chris

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 7:26PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

this one is not open...it is a room all it's own and I think that is where we made our mistake when we designed it. I just couldn't figure out where to put the fridge if we kept it open to the dining. we might have to end up knocking down a wall later...will just have to see how it works. I do have a separate pantry so that is good!

    Bookmark   September 2, 2008 at 10:20PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

It would be easier to see your plan of the whole house to get a better idea of what you are building. We have had many houses and different kitchens. We chose this house because it is open in kitchen and dinning room and living room. I do not have a picture of this kitchen that shows the kitchen area only. I could take one tomorrow.

This is the floor plan and you can see the kitchen layout. We had them change the curved counter to an L and it lines up with the sink counter.This layout works really well for me.

The kitchen might feel cramped at your size if it were a closed room.


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 12:00AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have a copy of my plan on the computer and my scanner is in storage. I have some pics of the outside but none of the inside.(see link below) We just got through with the exterior painting this past week. We are waiting on the porches to be finished(posts, railings and stain), shutters to be put on and for the brick pavers to be put around the raised slab.

Basically my living/dining/kitchen is set up exactly as yours except from the living to the dining is a wall with a 6 foot centered opening and then from the dining to the kitchen is a 4 foot centered opening. The kitchen does have a window that looks out on the back so that helps and we put in lots of lighting. There is a ceiling fan in the middle with 2 can lights on each end of the kitchen and a light over the kitchen sink. My cabinets will be white so that will 'open' it up some too hopefully.

Here is a link that might be useful: house pics

    Bookmark   September 3, 2008 at 9:22AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I ran across this on Yahoo Real Estate the other day. What we think of as average, the rest of the world sees as large. Interesting.

Average size of new homes built in various developed countries

Sq. feet
United States
New Zealand

Sources include: U.S. Census; Canadian Home Builders Assoc.; 2006 2nd Edition Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey

I found the UK numbers very surprising.


    Bookmark   September 7, 2008 at 8:25PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

That's not surprising to me at all. My husband is from Sweden and his flat was 600 sf and he said that was average for Stockholm condos for 1-2 people.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2008 at 5:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

This is why I love House Hunters International--it's a reality check!

I watched an episode a couple of months ago about an English family (Mom, Dad, two young boys) who ended up buying a lovely house that was about 1400 square feet. It had the normal compliment of rooms: living, dining, kitchen, and two bedrooms (I think).

The boys shared a room and kept their toys there--no separate playroom! Of course, they weren't flooded with toys the way so many American children are (my own included--hangs head in shame).

The family loved the house and planned on it being their family home, not just a "starter home".

    Bookmark   September 12, 2008 at 9:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey there! :) We are a young family of five (my husband, me, and our three daughters). We recently moved from our little bungalow of 830 square feet, which with one more bedroom, would have been exactly perfect for us (all 3 girls were sharing the same 12x11 bedroom)to a fixer-upper colonial home that is about 1,500 square feet. I honestly feel that our new house (the 1,500 square foot one) is too big, as does my husband! In a few years after we fix this house up a bit, we want to sell it and find another bungalow (let's face it - nothing says "cozy" like a bungalow :D) right around 1,000 to 1,200 square feet!

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 12:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome photo_eye_navy_wife! We're a nosy interested bunch here and would love to see pictures of your house(s). With three girls, I bet you will soon fill the 1500 sq ft house. But I know what you mean. Now that our girls are gone, our house seems much too big, well I know it's too big.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 11:16AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Welcome for sure, PhotoEyeNavyWife. You found an old thread and brought it into the present. Hope some of thos former posters come back to comment too.

Our little cottage is 2 bedroom, so that part has not changed. But the sq ft inside is now about 1000 because we
reconfigured some space and made a second bath (tiny to be sure) and a walk in closet for what we now call a master suite. And, we enclosed a screened porch as a sun porch, and the back porch as part of the kitchen, so we do have more space for a little privacy. Our final redo will be knocking down a couple of walls to make the kitchen work with a modern concept. We do not rush any projects, because once it is changed, that is it forever more.

Glad to have you join the discussions. Love to see your ideas.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 1:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Navy wife, I love the closeness that DH and I are forced into with our 900sf home, but I think you'll agree in time that your daughters can use a little room to grow. Teenagers need some space. DH grew up in a tiny home and was gone so much from 16 on that he was practically living with friends. He once referred to his old bedroom as a tiny cell (and not because he was grounded there...his parents were hands-off). One of my good friends, in contrast, moved into a house where she and her brother lived in the basement and had their own bedrooms, plus a game room and movie room. Their house was the destination hang-out spot for friends, and they didn't need to escape to have fun (though easily checked on by parents). Very different values and parenting styles involved as well, and I'm sure there are anecdotes to counter mine, but a little physical space can help kids feel less under their parents thumb, IMHO. However, I think this can be taken to the other extreme, where families never see each other, and that's sad, too. Something to think about.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 11:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My house is larger than most of yours, but small for Dallas Tx. The trend here is to build huge, luxurious house on tiny lots with lots of elegant extravagant features. ANd, they all look alike. I am a little claustrophobic, so I like having some space, but love the charming, cozy and unique feel of so many of your houses. We live in a subdivision of modest, look alike houses, and I want mine to be just a little different if I can make it! I love this forum because more people think like I do, that everything does not have to be the top of the line, or just like everyone else's house. I feel that some of you have given me "permission" to keep the ivory formica that is 30 years old, but still in good shape, instead of replacing it with granite that is not as practical just to keep it updated. Can I please be a small house too?>

    Bookmark   July 16, 2011 at 11:48PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sure Musicteacher. Why not?? The more the merrier. Even in larger houses there are issues some smaller houses have. I think I have noticed in many larger homes the rooms are large but there is very little storage.

I am with you on the granite. I think it is pretty. I am sticking with my Formica.For now anyway.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2011 at 12:55AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Our house is 4 bedrooms, 2 baths and 2000 square feet. Even with four kids, it doesn't feel small. Because the bathrooms are teensy weensy and the kitchen is small, it also doesn't feel large.

Interestingly (to me) although it is 600 square feet larger than our last house, because the windows are smaller and the ceilings are lower, and the split-foyer layout involves a lot of wasted space, it "reads" smaller, and not in a good way.

I am looking forward to scaling down to a smaller house with bigger windows once a couple of the kids have left the nest.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 1:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Musicteacher and leafy, and a few others I've noticed to be new on the block,

I would suggest that out of curiosity you take a look at the very first round of SMALL HOMES constructed after WWII in places like Levittown. They were all just alike essentially, with little differences. But now if you take a look at the photos coming from those neighborhoods, you see quite a difference in the houses. Over a period of time, change does come and they don't look the same.

Glad to have newcomers join the discussions, never fails to enrich the pot.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 3:27PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

leafy, you brought up an interesting thought, at least to me. Our house will be almost 2000 sq feet when we finish with it, but because the original footprint has very small bedrooms, closets, and bathrooms, it reads small.

Dh & I had been working on the house every weekend the past few months, and then had to stop to deal with his father's health problems. Today we were talking about how nice it might be to live in a 2 bedroom condo so we could have weekends free to just enjoy each other and do things again. Home maintenance is getting to us.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2011 at 11:15PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

moccasin, our last house was in a neighborhood of two dozen or so blocks of identical twin homes built in the 1940's, and before that we lived in a rowhome, part of a row of identical homes in a neighborhood of identical rows from the 1930's. One thing that those home designers did right was utilize space. My current house has a lot of hall space, and I can't figure out why anyone would design that.

Marti8a, I know what you mean about home maintenance being a drag. We love our big yard--it's one of the reasons we bought this odd house-- but making the time to do all the work that is involved....another subject entirely.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2011 at 9:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hey all! Glad to be a part of the forum - thanks for all the welcomes! I can already see that I have found a great group of people! :) xxxhugsxxx!!! We are slowly starting to get used to the colonial! We have stripped the old icky wallpaper from the dining room and painted it a lighter tanish-yellowish-whitish (think a sunny tan neutral color - lol!) and added some lace valances and it looks breathtaking! Can't wait to strip the mauve rose wallpaper from the entry hall and the living room and paint in there too! The entry hall will probably be painted a similar color to the dining room (the dining room is something like 9x12 feet (I think)) and the living room is 11x24 feet with a brick fireplace centered on the long interior wall, and then the kitchen is adjacent to both the living room and dining room and there is a little closet sized 1/2 bath tucked off of the kitchen(the first floor forms a horse-shoe shape around the entry hall). There is a room (which was added on, actually it was once the bottom half of a two-story porch that was part of the back of the house which both levels have been enclosed and beautifully finished as part of the interior of the house with hardwood floors and big beautiful windows and works VERY functionally well with the rest of the house, you would never even KNOW that it wasn't built like that!!!) anyways, the first story addition is right off of the living room and I use that as my photography studio - it is 9'x16'. In the front entry, there is a curved maple banister (eeek! gorgeous!!) and a little coat closet tucked next to the stairs on the back wall. In the entry hall if you look to the left, there's the dining room through an arched doorway, and to the right is the living room through another arched doorway. Upstairs there are 3 bedrooms ( one of which is the remodeled porch - once again you would never guess that it had been anything but the original house!) My two oldest daughters share a 9x17 foor bedroom with a wardrobe, window seat (that lifts up for toy storage!) and bookshelf accross the exterior end of the room and a good sized closet (it is so cozy for them and they LOVE sharing a room!!!) then there is a full bathroom upstairs, my youngest daughter's room (which is 9x16 feet with a nice big closet) there is also a 4th what you could call "bedroom" I guess which is 6x8 feet with a nice closet that we currently use for my kids' play kitchen set and my sewing machine and we use the closet for coat storage until we get more organized, however there are no windows in this room. Our bedroom is 11x17 feet. In the hallway upstairs, there are drawers and cupboards built into a wall in lieu of a closet - I love it!! There are also some of these built in drawers and cupboards in the master bedroom along with a walkin closet with built-in dressers. There is another door off of our bedroom which goes into a hallway with a window in it (this is the window that shows over the balcony over the front door in the center of the house, and off of this hallway is another door with stairs that go to an unfinished attic. We want to make this into our own little "space" eventually - we want to put carsiding (the wood cabiny-type paneling that you put on walls in a cabin), and hardwood floors with a fireplace up there and bookshelves built into the kneewalls :)... Projects for this year include a facelift on the kitchen (which is 11x8 feet) which will include new countertops ($80 total), a new backsplash ($200), a new dark hardwood floor ($150), and a couple of additional cupboards which my uncle is going to make for us :), rip out the wallpaper and paint. The bathroom downstairs is next, we're going to rip out the cheapy sink and put in a fluted pedestal sink, rip out the vinyl flooring and put tile down, put white bead board on the bottom half of the walls with chair rail, paint the upper half a dusky misty blue, put a new toilet in and update the electrical. The bathroom upstairs is next with new flooring, and ripping out the fake tile paneling on the walls and replacing the toilet. Next year is windows (only 3 of the 15 on the first floor can be opened as of right now), replacing the crown moulding in our room and eventually extending the other half of the house back 9 feet to meet the previous addition which will make our kitchen bigger :) yay. Anyways, I will try to get some pictures up asap! How do i do that by the way? Sorry I'm rambling here, it kinda helped me sort out my to-do-list! God bless guys! and Thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2011 at 9:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

And here is one I found on HOUZZ...
They have one that is being built which will then be registered as an RV. How's that for small?
Sounds like some we've already covered in other threads.

Here is a link that might be useful: Tiny Home Big Adventure

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 12:15AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Hi there, and somehow did I miss you..... sorry if I failed to welcome you when you posted originally.

I think your post above is quite interesting, and you put a lot of thought into creating it. It deserves to have a thread all its own. That way, any responses we make to it will come in your email box (if you check that little feature) and you will not have to worry about finding your stuff again when someone sends you a message.

Since you do not reveal your email to members, the forum is the only way we have to communicate with you.

If you like, copy/paste that message into a brand new thread which you create for yourself. And then we can respond directly to it without taking this thread off topic.

Great to have someone with lots of energy join us. :)

    Bookmark   October 5, 2011 at 10:28AM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Help for me coming soon...
My family and friends have been praying for that all...
Getting older and keeping up
Just reading Stephs recent post about getting help...
Okay, how about tea on Monday this week? :)
How is everyone? How was your weekend? I don't know...
Mise en place
I give you a link to an NPR article about the above...
So where are you? New house? Still looking?
Imhappy&Iknowit IOWA zone 6b
Sponsored Products
Flos | Aim Multipoint Pendant Light
Peppermill by Alessi
$194.00 | Lumens
Harbor House Brisbane 4-piece Comforter Set
St. Nick Candy Bowl
$23.99 | Dot & Bo
Progress Lighting Recessed Lighting 6 in. Metallic Trimlite Compact Fluorescent
$74.68 | Home Depot
Freejack LED Veryon 16 Deg 30K 80CRI
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™