A couple of weeks ago I received this comment from a reader…
“We are closing on our house this Friday, it is 1523 sq ft. When I told friends and family, a lot of them think it is a little small. I would love to see a blog post on your thoughts on house size”.
I think that is an excellent topic for a post, so lets dive right in.
The average size of a house in the U.S. nearly 2400 square feet (source), my house is 1650.
Adam and I purchased it back in 2010 (our first house!) and we planned on it being a starter home. We would live in it for five or six years, pay it off, fix it up, sell it, and move onto our next adventure. So far everything is going as planned, and along the way we have learned a ton. Not just about DIY stuff, but about the way we live, the way we work as a family, the things we love about our home, and the things we would change. One thing I have learned along the way is that I don’t ever want a giant house.
Have y’all ever read The Not So Big House books by Sarah Susanka? I’ve owned these books for a really long time….long long before owning a house was feasible. Sarah is an architect who designs homes that use every square inch of the space. Not like those teeny homes that people build on utility trailers these days (although I do love those), but very reasonable homes that are functional and beautiful. This concept has always resonated with me, probably because the homes in her book are very high quality, personal and, well, practical.
In our house we have one dining area, it’s basically an eat-in kitchen with a large table. We use the stew out of that thing. Not only do we use it for eating, it is also where I paint and work on projects. It’s where my kids do art and crafts and other kid things, we throw blankets over it and make forts and caves. My boys run around it like a race track …playing tag, riding bikes (for real), and dragging each other around on blankets. Whenever a holiday rolls around we host our (very large) family and pull up extra chairs, or ice chests, or whatever is around. We’re a casual kind of family and it works for us.
Same principle goes for our living area. We have one living area that serves all our purposes. If I had a living room, den, and playroom they would either 1) never get used or 2) be giant messes all the time. I’m not okay with either one. Every square inch of our house is used (and abused, it’s NEVER as clean as in these pictures) but I’ve never really felt cramped.
There are some downsides to living in a smaller home. (I feel completely weird called 1650 square feet a smaller home, btw. Our first apartment was 350 sq ft.). The main downside is that there isn’t a place to escape from the kids. I can’t retreat upstairs or into my office, everything is right there and basically fair game. There is no hiding. Even after hours (aka post bedtime) Adam and I can’t fully escape. When watching our usual nighttime TV we always have the remote in hand to turn it down when we anticipate loud parts. Need ice in your drink? Forgettaboutit, that ice dispenser might as well be a jackhammer. I never wanted to be that parent that catered to a their kid all the time…but then I became a parent. That special time when your kids are asleep and you aren’t is SACRED. So living in a smaller house does have its downfalls. Also, the master bathroom is tiny. At one point it is 23 inches across…it’s a good thing we’re small people.
In our next house I do want more square footage, I just don’t want most of it to be inside. I want land…so much land. I would own hundreds of acres if we could afford it (although it’s looking like about five is the most we can swing on the next house). I want outdoor living space – porches, decks, covered patios…the more the better (and a breezeway, I have an unhealthy love for breezeways). I also want a garage…a real one this time. Not necessarily for cars though, I want a giant workshop. One where I can buy all the old furniture I want and it would be okay, because it’s so freaking huge. One where Adam has enough space to be organized and isn’t grumpy every time he needs a tool. So basically, I want a barn. And for a place where we can actually get away from the kids a room above the garage/workshop/barn would be really great. We could use it as a guest room and office, and keep it a secret from the kids so that it would actually stay clean (Adam says he needs to keep me out of there too if clean is the goal, lol. Except not lol, cause it’s true.)
Honestly, the next house will most likely be bigger than this one. Our price range is going up (land, porches, and barns don’t come cheap), and if the average house is 2400 sq ft then most things on the market are bigger than our current home. Plus we are hoping to expand our family, and with that comes the need for an extra bedroom (unless that room above the garage actually happens). I would think that even with the addition of a fourth bedroom I wouldn’t want/need a house over the average 2400 square feet. As Adam likes to say, smaller homes “keep the love in”, haha. The main focus isn’t really the square footage though, it’s the fact that I want to live well within my means. I want something where I can easily afford the electric bill and the taxes. I want something I can clean and maintain without hiring a slew of help. Because lets face it, in most cases a bigger home means bigger bills, and bigger bills mean working longer and harder at your job, which means time away from family and the things you love.
I’d love to hear how y’all feel about your home’s square footage. Perhaps large houses are amazing and I’ve just never known because I’ve never lived in one. So let’s hear it…how many square feet is your home? Do you wish you had more space? Less? What would you change in your current (or next) home? Discuss.