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how small is considered small?

Posted by ronbre (My Page) on
Fri, Mar 6, 09 at 12:31

There are a lot of opinions of small homes out there, and large homes, I was wondering what the people on THIS particular site consider a small home..??
1 bedroom 1 bath, no bedrooms sleep in the living quarters?
2 bedroom 1 bath, 3 bedrooms 2 baths?

1000 square feet 1500? 2000? 2050? what do you put at the top line of a small home?

just wondering?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: how small is considered small?

According to the forum description on the front page, 2000sf is the limit on this forum. The average American house is currently something in the area of 2400sf. I can tell you that in 2007 when we were selling our previous house, a 1994 ~1950sf Cape with 4BR, 2.5 baths, finish-able walkout basement, and oversized 2-car garage the first words out of almost everyone's mouth were "it's kind of small..." And compared to the 4000+sf new-construction houses across town with a private bathroom for every bedroom, formal living and dining rooms on top of a family room and breakfast nook/eat-in kitchen, kitchen large enough for a staff of ten (I cooked in several restaurant kitchens that were smaller than kitchens over on the Kitchens forum, turning out hundreds of meals a night - go figure), playrooms and bonus rooms and media rooms and so on and so forth, then yes, it was small. Of course, mine was also half the price!

I had a studio apartment around 200sf when I lived in Chicago and it was WAY too small even for just me. DH and I have lived together in everything from 300sf - one tiny bedroom, living room with kitchenette in the corner, closet-sized bathroom, and we just about drove each other crazy - to about 2500sf (rented Subdivision Special). The 800sf condo we rented was the smallest place where we did not feel like we were living in each other's pockets but we were still kind of underfoot all the time, and it was always cluttered. When we were hunting for a "downsize house" in 2007, we did not look at anything below 1000sf given our condo experience. Also, 1.5 baths was mandatory - both of us getting food poisoning at the same time made me swear that I was never going to live anywhere with only one toilet again - and you just don't find that in the really small houses around here. I aimed for around 1500sf, which I consider "a large small house", if that makes any sense LOL, especially for two people, because I wanted plenty of room for our gazillion books and craft stuff and to have lots of friends over; my ideal was 3BR 2BA which you can find in 1500sf in my area. But, we ended up with not quite 1250sf because of an extremely tight budget and getting outbid twice on other houses we liked better. It's 1 1/2 stories and the deeply slanted ceilings upstairs do make things tricky sometimes, as the "functional space" isn't quite the same as the square footage which is measured at floor level. It has 3 bedrooms (although by code it's only 2 because one doesn't have a proper closet), 1.5 baths, a living room and an eat-in kitchen. The Scary Cellar is unfinishable (well, theoretically we could, but it would literally cost more than the house is worth) and exterior storage is limited to an 8x10 shed, so I do miss having more clean, dry storage. Other people would be content to raise three or four kids in this house, and more power to 'em, but most of the time we consider it quite generous for the two of us.

Functionality is also perhaps more important than square footage - a really-well-designed 1000sf house can work far better for day-to-day living than a 2000sf house that is poorly designed.


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RE: how small is considered small?

i was kinda curious as to what people thought as I considered our old house large when we moved in and small when it burned..it was about 900 square feet, and then when we got our new home, at first it seeemed large to me and my husband still thinks it is huge..but by comparison to other peoples home it is considered small, however, my son's is a lot smaller than ours but he has a full basement which doubles his space to more than ours.

Our home is 2040 square feet, but a lot of smallish rooms, 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, full laundry room, living room, family room, dining room, dinette and 2 hallways that take up a lot of room.

to me the ROOMS are SMALL..the book by Christopher Lowell on Small house decorating considers 2040 square foot a small house..but i guess he works among calif mansions so he would consider it small..i do..i have a lot of problems fitting the furniture i want into the rooms..i always end up editing out any furniture that doesn't provide storage..and generally even edit out a lot of pieces that do as the furniture just makes the home feel so crowded..

our living room is about 14 x 14 but is open to a dining area that is about 14 x 10..to me these seem really small..but i know they are larger then a lot of peoples..

our entry to our home is right into the living room, which means part of the room has to be ENTRY..rather than living room..so the usable room for the living room is more like 10 x 14..with entry on the side.

some of the other rooms are more roomy..but the living room area is pretty doggone small


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RE: how small is considered small?

Our last house was to us quite big, it was 1800 sq ft plus a low basement (good for storage). When we put it up for sale, all we heard was how tiny it was, we would only be able to sell it to a single person or perhaps a couple who didn't want to have children.

We have now moved into a 960 sq ft house & although it's a bit tight for us, we are finishing part of the bottom floor which will put us at about 1200 total.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I once owned a rental that was a complete house; at 400 square feet. I think the definition of 'small' is probably pretty personal, but my guess is that 'most' people wouldn't think of a 6000 sq. ft. house as small. Personally, I'd think of anything 1200 square feet or less as small.


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RE: how small is considered small?

In my opinion, if you can vaccuum the entire house and never unplug the vaccuum cleaner, that's small!

I am divorced and have two sons visit frequently. We do just fine in 1024 square feet with three bedrooms and one bath. At times, having only one bathrooom is very inconvenient.

On the other hand, my girlfriend lives alone in about 1500 square feet 2 bedrooms and one bath and is busting at the seams. But, her job keeps her on the road at least half the time and she has to have luggage and clothes for a variety of climates close at hand. Plus, she works from home when she is not on the road so she requires more space, especially storage space.

I have been facinated by smaller spaces for most of my adult life. For me, I think if I could start from scratch and design a home with the proper layout and adequate storage, I could be perfectly happy with about 900 square feet, two bedrooms and one and one-half bathrooms. However, that perfect arrangement would include a very large covered, probably screened, outdoor space.

I'm appaled by American's infatuation with larger and larger homes. I personally know a builder who is divorced, has one adultish son living with him and just built 7000 square feet and I think a six car garage. And in the town it was built in, there is virtually no chance someone else would be wealthy enough to buy it should he decide to sell it. Brilliant.

~Scott~


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RE: how small is considered small?

we had a 900 sq ft house, it had 3 bedrooms but only one bath and 2 of the bedrooms were upstairs..i would have preferred to have the 2 baths and only 2 bedrooms..myself.

i hated the baths so far from the bedrooms..it was an old farmhouse and was originally built with no bath or laundry..but a room was converted.

we built in all the closets as it had none except understairs cubby, and we built in pantries and floor to ceiling shelves and storage..when we were done the only non functioning part was the bathroom situation..it burned in 2002


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RE: how small is considered small?

I agree with jasonmi7. I consider 1200sf and less to be small even for just me and my 30 lb dog. I grew up in NYC where 900sf is considered luxurious and after leaving the city some 15 years ago and having lived in apartments ranging from 700sf to 1500sf, I still felt cramped. I finally bought my first home in July 08 and I couldn't be happier (it's a 2412sf house)! But like jasonmi7 said, size is personal. It depends on family size, quantity and size of furniture you own, and definitely the layout of the house as johnmari pointed out.


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RE: how small is considered small?

We consider 1300 sf and less small. That being said we consider anything over 1800 sf too big.

Size only tells one story - to me it's layout and how efficiently it's used.


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RE: how small is considered small?

My house is a little over 800sf...it was perfect for me and my daughter, but now that my BF and daughter have moved in, I'm noticing the crampness! Add a 50lb dog and a 13lb cat in there, too!

I worked w/the smallness by MAJOR decluttering, which has been tough, because I keep everything. So its been lifechanging, to say the least.


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RE: how small is considered small?

In VA we bought a 3800 sq ft home on half an acre.
In TX we bought a 3700 sq ft on a zero lot line.
In CA we rented a 750 sq ft apartment.

We just purchased a 2074 sq ft home with just enough yard for a little garden and a table.

We think finally picked the perfect size house for two people and a cat;)


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RE: how small is considered small?

cal gal your home is almost exactly the same size as ours, which is kinda on the small size but i like it and wouldn't want it much larger..i do however have glassed in front porch and rear covered deck and side deck..so i have outdoor space too..but it is still winter here so we are stuck inside.

i have a large large large garden area and 670 x 670 ' forest area behind that..so i have room to roam in the summer, but in the winter it can get a little claustrophobic


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RE: how small is considered small?

We recently moved from a 1650 sf to a 1700 sf and almost feel lost. There's only 3 of us but man does it feel huge.

Our next & final house (in about 10 years) will be around 1500 sf ranch.


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RE: how small is considered small?

Obviously " how small is considered small?" the answer depends on who you ask.

What may be considered small to me may seem large to you. We moved from a 2800 sq ft to a 1700. This house seems small to us, but to someone in a 1000 sq ft it would probably seem big.

We have two large bedrooms instead of 3 small ones. It's alot about the lay out of the house too. I think open concept homes feel larger, more open then houses with walls and hallways.

Your question is really a matter of personal experience.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I think anything over 1,000 sq ft is HUGE. I'm not kidding. When I was in college, I lived in a 280 sq ft studio with my girlfriend. And believe it or not, we were comfortable.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I live with myself and my 3 yr old DD. Mine is about 1000 sf, and the unfinished but liveable basement is 600 sf. I think it's perfect. Wouldn't want anything smaller. Anything more and we would have spaces we wouldn't live in.
Gayle


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RE: how small is considered small?

ive just worked out my house is only about 300 sq ft! (converted from metres), im starting to think i live in a shoe box! It's small and it's really hard trying to fit furniture but I didnt realise just how small it is compared to everyone else's small houses! Im actually really surprised at what people consider small after reading this


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RE: how small is considered small?

my first house was a 700 sf 2 bedroom , 1 bath 'character' house, second house with my husband was 600 sf 1 bedroom ,1 bath, but it was just too small for 2 adults, 2 cats and 2 dogs! now we built a 1200 sf house that I think is huge, until I go to my folks house, which is 4000 sf, then my house seems small again!


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RE: how small is considered small?

rosalie 1200 sf would seem huge to me too! for one thing i'd have to buy more furniture lol

DH and i are always getting in each others way and i have a phobia about clutter! it all makes sense now. Strangely though, we have the exact same floor plan as the house DH grew up in, two parents and 4 kids! I guess people just had less stuff back then so it worked out ok.


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RE: how small is considered small?

well, back 'when' kids didn't have a lot of stuff - families usually only had 1 tv (if any), there weren't vcrs, tapes, huge speakers, huge tv's etc. my mom raised 4 girls in a house and a few apts with only 2 bedrooms and 1 bath!

i live in about 750 sq ft now - moving into about 1400 sq ft. dbf swears it's more (we went to measure today) and I haven't added it up yet to see who is right about this!

I live alone - with 2 med/lrg size dogs. 1 about 50lbs and 1 at 70lbs. I'll be doubling my space anyway. and I'm excited. i've been crammed in this little place for 11 yrs with my stuff in storage and I'm so ready to stop living out of boxes etc. I don't think it'll be too big for me at all. I've lived in 15-1600 sq ft before by myself and wasn't overwhelmed by the space. I like have a place for things - here I have no space to put things. Stuff is stacked on other stuff etc. My dog has learned to walk backwards...I'm not sure what she'll do in all the space! my 2nd dog only came inside once and he freaked! he doesn't like it inside - lol! i'm gonna try him inside again when i get settled in the larger place. There's an area in the laundry room just waiting for him! (i guess it's a space for a freezer - that i don't have) There's a room for him after I find out how 'house trained' he is. He'll share it during the hot days of summer with a desk, file cabinets etc if he passes the 'test'.

I've lived in much larger homes before (ok, not over 2200 sq ft - with 4 kids and dh), now it's a little less for me and dogs.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I think a lot of it depends on storage too. We had an 1800 sq ft house with tons of storage and it felt spacious.

This house is also about 1800 square feet but tiny closets and it feels like the four of us were sardines in a can, shuffling the extra stuff from room to room. Now that the kids are gone, it feels roomier, but the storage is still an issue. I would gladly trade the big den for a smaller den with walk-in closets in each bedroom.


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RE: how small is considered small?

you are so right there about storage..the 900 square foot house we lived in didn't have any but I was handy so I built floor to ceiling shelves many rooms and I built in the only closets in the house as it came with NONE..i put 3 in the master bedroom and a huge walk in in one upstairs bedroom..put a coat closet in an entry I added to the house and put a coat and pantry closet in the kitchen..was a huge farmhouse kitchen..even added a broom closet to the laundry..

this new house..although it has 3 walk in and one regular coat closet..it hasn't got the floor to ceiling shelves that we had in the other house..they didn't take up room but were valuable storage..this house also has open concept..so very few walls..each room excepting bed and baths..have walls missing..


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RE: how small is considered small?

I grew up in a 1000 sf house with one bathroom for a family of five. That was small....though not REALLY small.

I now live in an approx 1400 sf home (doesn't include half-finished but never used/heated basement) - with just my husband and it feels pretty big to me. I wish the bathroom and the 1/2 bath were bigger. The latter is a closet and the former isn't much better. I wish the dining room were a little bigger for when we have company but overall, we're more than comfortable.

I can't imagine living in a 2000 sf house, much less having to clean it! To me, a 1700-2000 sf house doesn't qualify as a "small" house, unless you're trying to house a very large family in it, I guess. I think of houses of that size as being average to large, but maybe that's because I'm from an area where the housing stock is older and open land is limited so there's not as much new construction as in some parts of the country. The new construction does tend to be of the McMansion type, on small lots. Land is so expensive, they need to build the larger houses to get their money back.

Not knocking anyone but I think the typical American family with 2.2 kids should be able to live very comfortably in an 1800 sf house, and don't really understand the need for 3000 - 4000 sf, 4 bathroom houses!

I guess layout and extras matter a lot too. We're lucky in that we have a detached garage and a basement for storage as well as an attic that currently has no flooring and is accessed by a ladder - but at least there's that possibility for future storage. I imagine a 1400 foot ranch house built on a slab would feel smaller than my 1400 sf house.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I have a 2/1 1200 sf home, and I consider it small. The rooms are big (upside) but the house itself is small, and no basement. I would love to have a 1500-1700 sf home with a family room/den and one additional bath.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I think the size of home a person needs depends on how they live. If there are special needs in the family. As in I NEED a room all to myself to work on my arts. I need to be able to close it off from our fur babies because I work with glass. It needs to be a fairly large room.At the time we bought this home I also worked from home so my studio room also had to serve as an office when needed for that.Now with a different job I try not to bring my work home with me. Sigh. Does not always get to happen.

Since this is a manufactured home we had the options of making changes to fit our life styles. Since we were able to make these changes I believe we were able to create a smaller home that still fits us. We are right at 1300 SQ FT plus a covered front porch of 8 by 26 and there are just two of us.

We do not have much company no family to speak of no kids to come back with their kids to visit. The room we can house a guest is small at 9FT by 13FT. It is my sewing/den/exercise room and a guest is welcome to come stay and we have a place to put them but it is not really considered a guest room.We use that room daily for us.

Twice we had 1800+ SQ FT homes. After moving from them I thought I was just going to never be able to survive in a smaller home. Once we moved from 1800 to 1140 and it was just fine as soon as we got moved in and sorted. That smaller home had lots of built in storage. Then we moved from 1850 to 1200 and I fought that smaller home for two years before I finally settled into it. It was all about the way each of those smaller homes lived. The way the wall space was window placement doors etc. At the 1140 SQ FT home the windows were up high enough to be able to place a dresser under them in the bedrooms. Not so in the 1200 SQ FT home.

Having experienced all the moves we have made and the different house styles we learned small tricks that made rooms live larger. Just having the one door in the living room moved out 16 inches away from the corner instead of right in the corner. This allowed us to place a piece of furniture behind door on that wall it opened onto.I know most do not have the option to custom build their home for them.I am just trying to say how the ability for us to do so made it possible for us to be able to live in a smaller home than others might be comfortable in.

Chris


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RE: how small is considered small?

You know Chris I never really thought too much about special needs..as we have those as well..
My husband is mentally disabled from a series of closed head injuries and he does require rooms of his own where he has his privacy, and they cannot be accessed from the rest of the house. He has some really serious times from day to day where he couldn't deal with someone coming to the door, even a delivery person or mailman. Our home does become smaller due to the head injury situation he has..mainly because he requires 2 rooms that are just for him and his needs. The family room is his main living space, the kitchen and dinette are between the living/dining room and the family room. NO ONE but people that he is comfortable with ever go into the family rooom.
We also have the guest room for guests (my mother stayed with us for several months after a fire)..but he will sneak off into the guest room and sleep sometimes as it is quiet and there is a t v /stereo and no telephones to bother him in there.

I'm not ashamed of the size of our 2040 square foot home..it is not too large or too small..our old home was 900 square feet and it wasn't really too large or too small either..just different.

had we not lost the other home to a fire we would be using it just as we did..however, my husband would not be as comfortable mentally as he is in this home, that is for sure.

There have often been times that I figured that God allowed the house fire so that we could have something better, more comfortable, newer and in better repair. He has lost most of his abilities to funciton slowly since his first accident in 1985..and succeeding accidents over the years since which have compounded the problems.

Sure some people may find a smaller home more reasonable for their needs and some may need something larger than we have and consider it small to them.

I do know, when mom was living with us..it was very small..but we still managed..i wouldn't have wanted it any smaller..and that was just 3 of us.


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RE: how small is considered small?

1400 sf is fine for my husband, baby, and I. We have a small house, but it is efficient and well-planed. We have a backyard, attic, 2-car garage, 2 extra large bedrooms, walk-in closets, small office, small kitchen, pantry, powder room, laundry room, 2 living spaces, and two extra large glamour baths. If we had anymore children it would be too small.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I am very pleased to see someone bring this thread forward into 2011. Quite informative, for one thing, and it has so many folks commenting that seem no longer to post here. I hope they all come back.

We have chosen our final dwelling, pending no further destruction by hurricanes or whatever, and are making a few modifications to it. Originally it was 850 sq feet. We enclosed the side porch facing south, made a sun porch, and added 100 more feet. Then we enclosed the back porch and extended the kitchen into it as a temporary measure, and that gave us 900 sq feet. And we have also added a bumpout space to one bedroom which allowed us to create a second bathroom and a walkin closet. So at this point we have 1000 sq feet of house.

We are now restoring an old separate 20 x 24 cement block garage for my plants and parrots and my painting. It will also give us storage to empty out the house for "breathing room."

Our final addition will be a 6 x 17 foot addition to the master bedroom when we run the old back porch across the entire width of the house, and permanently expand the kitchen as we take down the wall separating it from the dining room, and the old back porch wall, and that will be it for our home renovation. We will wind up with an 1100 sq foot house, 2 br 2 bath. The living room will serve as a guest room and so will the study/2nd bedroom.

I'm happy with this, because in our climate we spend a lot of time outdoors gardening and reading. We don't need large indoor spaces any more. Homes providing space for growing children might need more space. But I like this, as we now are able to economically keep our home heated and air conditioned, and keep the landscaping in fine shape too.


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RE: how small is considered small?

We are a family of 6 in around 1000 square feet. Our 4 children are small, and I know 4 teenagers will not fit in this house. Right now we are managing very well. We orginally had a goal to break ground on our new build in May 2013. Now I think we may be able to continue saving about 3 years past that date. Ok I am getting off topic. Sorry.

Our house is no doubt tiny for us. It has many rooms and has two bathrooms. 3 bedrooms and a bonus room. So needless to say the rooms are tiny. The only things right now I wish we had was a dining room or a place to put a large dining table...and an extra storage building.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I picked up a copy of Mike Holmes' new magazine (in the US anyway) yesterday, and wound up reading it cover to cover before turning out the lights last night. In it , there is an article THE SIZE IS RIGHT, with tips for building/renovating not too big, not too small, but just right. (Author S.A.Lewis)

It quotes the average square foot in 2006 for a US home was 2,268 square feet, but the latest figure of a new home is now down to 2,100 sq feet, and likely to be reduced further. Just thought I'd drop that here, and go to the Chatty side to mention other things in the magazine of interest to me, maybe to you guys. I'm a big fan of Mike Holmes.

If it keeps going down, we'll soon have a lot of folks with NEW HOMES visiting the forum, instead of folks dealing with the 1940s postwar construction, or the old farmhouses.


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RE: how small is considered small?

Yeah, but the concept of "small" is still pretty ludicrous in the industry as a whole. i picked up the latest issue of Small Room Decorating yesterday and I don't know how to break it to them: 2500 sf with an open floor plan is not "small". Sigh. Oh well, at least it shows that they understand there's a market for publications targeting smaller homes, if not what the market is.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I think small has to do with closet space! My husband and I live in a 2 bedroom, 1 bathroom trailer, somewhere around 720 sq ft. The only closets are in the bedrooms. Sharing a bathroom isn't as bad as I thought it would be, and the bedrooms, kitchen & living room are just right. We do have a garage where excess seasonal & pantry items go, which is nice. However, I'm about to go crazy not having a coat/broom closet! I keep racking my brain trying to figure out a place to build one, but the layout just doesn't make it feasible. Definitely couldn't see having more than one small child here...even if the rooms were divided up differently.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I love this thread :)

I think anything smaller than our house (1250 sq ft) I would consider small. When we moved in I thought it must be the smallest house in the world, but now a year later I have re-designed the whole house (just how it is used, no moving walls or anything) and now it seems far and away big enough for us. We have cabinets and drawers that are empty, it's amazing what organizing your spaces well can do for making your house live large.

Everyone else thinks our house is very small but I know that I only occupy about 100 sq ft most of the day.


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RE: how small is considered small?

Enigma, I remember how you began this last year afraid it would be way too small for you. And now I note that you are nesting quite happily in your cottage. I think redoing your kitchen helped to achieve that. You knocked that ball out of the PARK, lady!!!

And Writersblock, I agree with your assessment of the literature about "small" being unrealistic. One article in a Cottages & Bungalows titled DOWNSIZING was about someone in a 3500 sq foot home trying to make her home "cozy" by decorating in a cottage style. Hmmmm, so how does THAT lead to "downsizing"???? I think this magazing is catering to the popular trend toward smaller home living, even if only in your mind. The caption for this article says, "A family manages to make a large home feel intimate and cozy. See how they did it." So it seems that SMALL is selling magazines.

Incidentally, I bought that magazine because it was featuring HOW TO PREPARE, BUDGET AND EXECUTE A REMODEL. And PLAN YOUR DREAM COTTAGE. I was disappointed in the poor editing of vocabulary, spelling. I did like the international flavor of the issue, since Euro style is more in step with our smaller homes life style.


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RE: how small is considered small?

moccasin, you're so right, I remember FREAKING OUT when I first came here! :) It's so comforting to find some like-minded people out there, you were wonderful!


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RE: how small is considered small?

My last house was 935 sq ft. Our family of 4 lived in it for 5 years. As the children grew it became too small. When we could no longer all sit around the table in the 8'x10' kitchen we moved up to our current home. Our current house is 1680 sq. ft. It felt huge when we moved in and after almost 10 years here, it still feels big.


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RE: how small is considered small?

I've been looking on Youtube for the Small Space Big Style videos, and ran across one about a 950 sq foot small home that was remodelled (so to speak), by a couple I think with a small child. 2 br.

And if you follow the link below, you'll run across the mother lode of old Small Space programs. I hope you can find inspiration for making SMALL BEAUTIFUL.

Here is a link that might be useful: Small 950 sq ft home redo


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RE: how small is considered small?

When we first moved to Colorado from NY in 1990 we purchased a 1200 4 bedroom 2 bath house. We had 3 kids and since it was our first house together we had no gauge for how big was big. To us, since we were just starting out 1200 felt huge! Once we moved in though we realized for 5 people it was tight. One of the problems though was the layout of the house, 3 or 2 bedrooms and more living space would have probably worked out much better. So we moved into a larger house about 10 years ago which is 1850. I always wanted a formal dining room and den, so now it is just 3 of us (we have a 7 year old son, and the older kids are grown and have homes of their own now) and to be honest it feels "huge". I actually got rid of our dining room set and we never use that space. The extra living room area never really gets used much either. We have a rental that is 850-900 (2 bedroom, 1 bath) that eventually i want to move into. My husband thinks our current house is perfect for us, i would eventually like to downsize to our rental. Maybe he is right but for me, cleaning this house is a lot of work. Sometimes i feel like moving from our smaller house to begin with was a mistake. In retrospect, while it was a bit cramped, our smaller home was cozy and had a really wonderful backyard with a covered patio that i missed once we moved. While I do love our current home sometimes it just feels way too big for 3 people.


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