Skip to main content

The Front Porch Blog

Education on all things homeownership

The Just-Right House

April 21, 2021 Blog, Homebuying, Lifestyle
Mother, father, son and daughter crowd around couch

How much square footage fits your family?

Today's average home rings in around 2,400 square feet. But that doesn't mean that's the right size for your family.

Home sizes in the U.S. have been growing steadily over the years, and with our sudden shift to stay-at-home living, new home buyers are thinking hard about what that means for them as they plan their dream homes. Here are a few factors to consider.

Size vs. Functionality

When it comes to home design, the square footage isn't just the size—it's about how that space is used and how functional it is.

A large home with space devoted to a foyer, spiral staircase, wide hallways, and an office or formal living room may have less functionally for a family needing room for lots of kids. In that case, a smaller home can live larger, if it includes privacy, varied living spaces, and plenty of bedrooms, for example.

So size doesn't always matter, but how that size works for you does.

The COVID Factor

With the COVID 19 pandemic, the home took on a completely new meaning. For 2021, home trends are reflecting this, including how we use space and how much of it we want.

Spending more time at home led people to realize what worked and what didn't in their current homes. This is feeding a drive to build and size up, especially as adult kids or elderly parents might be sharing space under the same roof.

Builders and buyers are looking for more and creative uses of space to address this drastic and sudden shift in lifestyle.

One such space is "zoom rooms"—the idea of a separate home office or workspace/school space where people can quietly work without distraction. (We've all seen the videos of pets and kids crashing important video conferences).

Another trend in new builds is a bigger and better master En Suite—another nod to having a private space to retreat, watch TV, read, sleep, and enjoy a spa-type bathroom as we look to our homes to provide comfort and respite.

The pandemic has also driven people out of cities and crowded suburbs and in search of more and less expensive homes and space. People with higher-paying jobs who could work remotely are sizing up and heading out of more expensive city areas in favor of big, functional homes.

Another trend is the creation of functional outdoor living spaces. Pools and patios, outdoor kitchens, lounges, and media areas had steadily been gaining popularity pre-pandemic, and access to the outdoors is now more important than ever.

How to Plan: Square Footage Rules of Thumb

Before committing to a home size and plan, consider factors that will influence how you live in the home. Think about factors like these:

  • Do you plan to share the home or have a roommate? If so, separate living spaces and ample bedroom sizes are important.
  • Do you have frequent long-term visitors, like a parent coming for a month at a time? A guest room will be a priority.
  • Are you sharing the home with aging parents or adult kids? Consider separate living areas, ample bedrooms, and even a possible mother-in-law-type setup.
  • Will you work from home? If so, how often? Consider avoiding loft office spaces in favor of enclosed and larger work areas.
  • Do you plan to have children? If you do have children, will they share rooms? Be on the same floor as parents? You might want to plan for a dedicated playroom or play space as well as the size and placement of bedrooms.

The average recommended square foot per person living in a home is between 400 and 700 square feet. For reference, a two-car garage is around 400 square feet.

Keep in mind that your lifestyle, budget, and preferences are always what's most important here—your home size has to work for you and only you. If you can, spend time touring plenty of model homes. Ask friends what they like about their spaces and what works for them and what they wish they could change. Talk to your family about their wish list and determine the must-haves (room for work and schoolwork) from the nice-to-haves (a workout room). Talk with your builder about their favorite plans and layouts or recommendations. Ask a realtor to share their insight and stories as well.

Above all, honor your individuality. Your dream home is a reflection of your dream!

To find a new home community with the just-right-size home for you, visit