downsizing to a small houseI remember a time not long ago when homeowners wanted as much house as they could afford. And what I mean by that is, they wanted as much square footage as they could buy. Details were an after-thought or not even considered because more rooms and more space was the primary focus. The bigger the house, the more luxurious in the minds of many. Now fast forward past the great recession beginning in late 2007, and years later the mindset of potential homeowners has changed tremendously.

While the trend of decreasing square footage is becoming the key factor, smaller homes are not necessarily a quick pro qou design that lack space. Some rooms and their sizes are being sacrificed in order to make the best use of the reduced square footage. However, with proper planning in the conceptual design phase, the home can still be a great domain despite a smaller scale. It seems that more and more homeowners are willing to make this transition.

It was once the norm to see a family looking for a home between 3,000 to 3,500 square foot, with 3,500 plus sq ft running a close second. Now, homeowners are looking at the 3,000 square foot range as the maximum and around 2,400 feet as an average size home. This is a bit more than the national average of 1,800 sf which is often sought after by baby boomers and empty-nesters. But, homeowners are now more focused on quality and details as opposed to quantity and blandness.

What compromises are made to accommodate a small home?

The most common compromises made by homeowners include reducing square footage in multiple rooms or eliminating single purpose rooms. The one room that is almost unanimously protected from reduction is the kitchen. This room has become the place of family gathering over the years, so it is wise to make this room as big as the design allows. Another room is the master bedroom; however, this space is more likely to be reduced if the kitchen is in play. Laundry rooms can also be a significant piece of the square footage math, at times being the size of a small bedroom, which is roughly 100 sq ft. Homeowner’s don’t see this room as a sacred cow, so it has become a space to scale back on too. The washer and dryer are more frequently being incorporated in other areas of the home that include the mudroom, walk-in closets, or tucked under a staircase.

What is the best design options for small homes?

The best way to achieve a functional small house is to design it with an open floor plan layout. This design technique minimizes the use of interior walls where that are not needed. This gives a sense of space to the home making it feel larger than what it really is. Adding depth to ceilings via vaults and trays also adds to this openness.

Giving the cost of energy and the maintance associated with owning a home, it has become clear to many american’s that they have to cut their expenses where ever they can. This mindset has lead to what is definitely a trend in buying and building smaller homes. The question that remains is whether or not 2,400 square feet will remain the new small or will more homeowners, seeking to reduce cost, bring the small house trend even lower.

What size home do you think is enough for you and your family, 1500, 1800, 2000, 2400 sq ft or larger?

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