How big a house is big enough?

As I surf, HGTV is on the TV across the room, and I happened to look up at a remodeling show where a couple increased their house to over 5000 sq ft. And I know there are houses out there that are much larger - you can see them all over. How much space does a family need? This place ended up with a living room, a family room, an office, a media room, a dining room, a breakfast room, a gigantic kitchen, a laundry room, 5 bedrooms, bunch of baths, high volume ceilings, 2-story foyer… Holy guacamole!! :eek:

Yeah, I know this isn’t about need - it’s about what people want. And let me say here that I’m not telling anyone how much house they’re allowed to have or anything like that. And I suppose I’m looking at this from my practical point of view - a bigger house is lots more to furnish and clean and heat and maintain. I’ve shaken my head in wonder many times over folks who build their “dream home” after all the kids are gone, since they can finally afford the place - do they spend their golden years dusting?? Sorry, that’s how my mind works.

I like the house we have - just under 1700 sq ft of living space, plus the same space in an unfinished basement workshop. The lot is a bit bigger than I would have chosen, had the house not existed - 3 acres - but it’s still manageable. Really, the only change I’d want to make is to have this house on the Chesapeake Bay. And if it was reasonably possible, I’d trade some of the living room area for a slightly larger master bathroom - 5’ X 8’ is too cozy when 2 of us are trying to get ready for work. The way I see it, we have space to be comfortable, plus two bedrooms for guests, but it’s not so large that we spend hours and hours every week maintaining it.

But the point of my thread - How much house is enough? With my imaginary powers, I grant you the house you want on the lot you want. I’m not giving you a staff to maintain the house or the grounds nor will I furnish or decorate it, so you’re on your own there, but in my magical world, getting the house is a given. So, what would you have me give you and why?

I’m the opposite of conspicuous consumption, but the one thing that I’m willing to spend money on is a house. I want a big house. Of course, I’m from Manhattan and now living in San Francisco. So 5000 square feet would be HUGE to me, but that’s about what I would want. On three acres.

And that would cost me approximately the GDP of France in San Francisco. So, I shop for a two bedroom and hope for 1500 square feet…

Yeah, I don’t get the “huge house” thing either.

It’s especially glaring in places where real estate prices have skyrocketed–on my last trip through Ventura County in Southern California, all the new developments were huge houses on very tiny lots with a huge price tag.

But what struck me the most about the houses were just how utterly fucking boring they were. Huge stucko boxes, with no interesting architectural details, and I doubt they were any more interesting on the inside. It’s like the middle-class “bigger is better” ethos has slipped loose and run rampant.

If I was gonna spend that much money on a house, I’d much rather have a smaller place that was built in a more costly (but more interesting) manner. Heck, I just bought a house, and it’s bigger then I wanted (~1800 sq ft–I’m not using two of the bedrooms at all), but if I went much smaller I would have been in some total dumps…

I don’t want to have to go hunting for my spouse in some huge, rambling, expensive to heat, difficult to maintain, impossible to keep clean monstrosity with a mortgage the size of a T-rex. Our place is about 2000 sq.ft. With both of us working, upkeep is a problem. There was an article about a guy here in town who built a 10,000 sq. ft. trophy house, which to me is just obscene consumerism.

I can’t remember our square footage, but I want to say it’s about 1100 square feet, with an unfinished basement.

As for what I really want, I would have no limits on size of the house or the lot, as long as I had the money to do what I wanted to it and to pay people to help me take care of it. Our current house is only managable because we have someone who cleans for us every other week.

We’ll be moving within the next few months, and what I’m going to look for is something just a little bigger than what we have now. What I’d really like is a small farm, with a house a bit bigger than this one, and a barn that could be “finished” that could house a craft studio and workshop for CrazyCatLady and a music studio and writing haven for me. That is probably do-able, but maybe a few years away.

I grew up in a giant old house. It was built in the 1830s, and probably had close to 5000 sqaure feet. It also had twelve-foot ceilings in every room.

I feel claustrophobic in modern houses. The tiny, cramped rooms and low ceilings are uncomfortable. I feel almost like I’m living in a doll house.

When Hubby and I were house shopping, we found a happy medium. The house in which I live now is about 2500, with ten-foot ceilings, and spacious rooms. It’s certainly not as roomy as my childhood home, but it’s much, much more comfortable than the last house in which we lived. We lived there for three years, and I never got comfortable.

Not very big, unless we have lots and lots of kids, which I don’t think will happen. My parents’ house was smallish, and I liked it. I also hate running around dusting everything.

Three bedrooms, a catch-all workshop basement space, two bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living-dining area? We really don’t need or want lots of space. Of course, what I just described is three times the size of our apartment, and we’re doing fine here, although it gets crowded when we have houseguests.

I can’t say for sure what we have now, I think it’s about 1200 feet of living space, with an unfinished basement. It’s not enough. We currently have the baby’s room and office combined - that’s not gonna work for much longer. We have set up a guest bedroom in the basement, but even with the nice rug and cozy bed, it’s still just brick and concrete. I’d say a four bedroom would suit us best, two bathrooms, and a decent sized kitchen. We currently have a galley with about three feet of clearance between the cabinets.

In lieu of four bedrooms, a basement which we could finish into a work space. Dave works from home and absolutely needs an office.

I would ideally like just a little tiny bit more room than we have now. We have 1950 sq. ft. and it’s a lovely 3 bedroom house which I’m quite happy with, but I would be thrilled to have a little basement space–a half-basement would be fine, but I don’t know much about how those work–and a little more room for guests and workspace. But 2300 would be about my maximum; I wouldn’t want to buy a house bigger than that. I don’t want to spend all my time cleaning.

I understand that 3000 is about the dividing line for having to hire cleaning help; once you get that big, you just can’t manage it on your own.

For land, I would very much like to have a larger lot. We live on 1/5 of an acre, and it’s nice, but I’d like to have more space and garden to work in, because I like to do that.

Oh boy have I got a deal for you!

Our house is 2100 square feet, 4 bedroom, 2 &1/2 baths, situated on 10 acres complete with two barns. A golf course borders our back acres.

Just my husband and I live here now. It is overwhelming and after much deliberation we have decided to put it on the market and look for something a little smaller with less acreage to care for.

We are looking for a 2-3 bedroom, 1,500 sq feet or less place on maybe 2-3 acres.
A brick ranch is preferable but we would consider an older place with character in the same general area.

Trophy houses - that’s an appropriate term. I have to wonder exactly how much of those mega-houses people actually use on a regular basis. How many home gyms see workouts beyond the first few weeks? For that matter, how many dining rooms are used other than on Thanksgiving, if then? (In our last house, we used the dining room maybe 6 times in 4 years.) I suppose just having a media room is its own reward, huh?

A former boss of mine had a truly stunning house, probably 7000-8000 sq. ft. She also had a full-time housekeeper, because as she told me, “Don’t buy the yacht if you can’t afford the gas for it.” With her career, there was no way she could have kept up with just the east wing of that house, let alone the whole thing.

That’s when I figured out I don’t have the energy, time, nor the inclination to clean more than about 2000 sq. ft. of house. Ideally, I’d like a cozy little 800 ft. cottage that I could clean in two hours or so, but we need room for four kids.

These houses are kind of silly to me. They just seem to be a regular house blown up to monstrous proportions. I sometimes wish these people would build a house with an interesting design that may cost more to build rather than those huge houses.

Our house is under a thousand square feet and it’s just fine for two people. My wife wouldn’t mind a bigger house but I know our habits so I’m not anxious to trade up. We fill our extra space with clutter so if we had a bigger house we’d just have more clutter. We would not magically become more organized, we’d have more junk filling the extra space.

I’d like about double the space we have now. We are in a 1,200 square foot ranch, which was fine when we bought it becuase we had a two year old and a baby.

Now we have three kids (ages 5 to 10) that like to run amok, so 1,200 square feet for a family of five is feeling a bit tight.

I figure a four bedroom house with about 2,400 square feet would be great.

I’m in an 1800 sq ft ranch (3 br, 2 bath) and there’s four of us.

Plenty of space, although I’d love to have one room as a home theater.

Well, I know what mrAru and I would like -

Master Suite - we like to spend quality snuggle social time, we dont just sleep and bonk in bed…we do morning coffee and watch tv together [we like starting the day off with news and weather] and we like our quality snuggle time and coffee just before bed, usually a movie. We want a bedroom that has a kingsized bed, and at least 5 feet of space on the 3 sides other than the head, we need space for the entertainment center at the foot at the bed. We each need a closet/dressingroom/private toilet [watercloset and sink] with a shared bath [shower, hot tub, vanity sink with mirror, and a double medicine cabinet so we can each have our own side. But only 1 sink, we dont need 2] Somewhere there we need room for a small cube fridge and coffeemaker for our morning and evening coffee=)

Live in kitchen / great room - we love to socialize and a serious portion is cooking and eating, so we would have the typical greatroom that has a U shaped kitchen with large country dining table/extra workspace centered in it [instead of a useless island] and a fireplace, with a tv/dvd jukebox and a comfy sitting area. We dont really need a ‘formal’ dining room, we are very casual=)

small formal sitting room - more of a place to show off some good art we happen to have where we can control the environment better than in the greatroom=) and it is nice to have a small sitting room for ‘formal’ visitors like police asking about stuff in the area [we recently had the police in to visit asking about some funky part of a boat that the neighbor had stolen, we didnt see anything that night, but the chickens were a bit upset and loud so we think someone was creeping backyards in the area looking for stuff to steal. Hope htey enjoyed wiping chicken crap off their shoes=)] or random visits from people trying to get us to donate money or whatever=)

Guest bedroom - we are somewhat social, and do like to have space for a houseguest or 2, maybe 2 bedrooms, one with a queen and one with a twinset.

Library - mrAru and I are book addicts, we have around 5000 books living in boxes in our barn for lack of space. I would love to be able to have them all out at one time instead of rotating through them by hte boxload [put a box of them on the shelves, and when we are totally bored with reading that 500, boxing them up and dragging out a couple more boxes and putting them on the shelves.]

Computer room would be mixed in with the library, we both play World of Warcraft, though right now we only have one computer it will play on, we actually have 3 computers for the 2 of us [one is my laptop that the cat pissed on and screwed up the screen, I use a spare monitor with it and do my email, web surfing stuff on it=)]though all roms would have networking enabled=) laptops are great in the kitchen for looking up recipes=)

hobby space - I sew, rob does all sorts of crafts but we can make do with basement/garage space as I can drag out a sewing machine or quilting frame and set it up in the sitting area when I would need to use it=)

So we would like something in the range of 1800 - 2100 square feet for the 2 of us.

We’re almost about to close on our first house, which is 1440 sq feet, plus about half of that in an unfinished basement. We have no kids, just us and two cats, but I’m kind of worried about it being too small soon - not because we NEED a bigger house, but because I really want my piano in our house, and we need to find a place for it. We have a family room and den on the first floor, but the den is more like an extra bedroom which we plan on making into an office/sewing room. Until we start our family, we can probably use the second bedroom for this.

We’d originally had a contract on a house that was 2200 sq feet, not including an unfinished basement, a two car garage and a sun room. We’re actually glad it fell through for now because I think it would have been overwhelming for us. We have a hard time keeping our two bedroom apartment neat, much less a house that large.

I have to admit a small hatred of the new McMansions that go up. There’s no uniqueness to them around here - they all look the same, and inside, they are NOT what one would expect from a house that large. We love our house - it’s 80 years old and what we lack in size, we make up for in uniqueness.


I was raised in an 1880’s home built by someone who’d made a killing in the fine timber industry in Michigan. I don’t know how many square ft, but on the first floor there was a livingroom, parlor, dinigroom and huge kitchen with another 120 sq ft as eating area. There were stained and leaded glass windows in several of the rooms, and bookcases with leaded glass fronts beside the fireplace in the livingroom. There was a foyer and a wrap-around porch. On the second floor were 4 bedrooms, (with two having bay windows) and a bathroom. Main staircase and servants stairway. On the third story was the old nursery and the maid’s room, along with a lot of attic space. We didn’t have a maid, but my oldest sister loved that room, because it was like being in a treehouse. There was a full basement with laundry facilities, a large workshop for my father and an antique shop my mother ran. Out back was a two-story carriage house that was probably at least 1800 sq ft. The house and grounds sat on 1/2 a city block, so there was always room for a kick-ball game. As a child, I appreciated having enough room that we weren’t in my parents’ hair. Although it was large and there a lot of antiques to dust, there were five kids to help out, so it never seemed like too much work. Truth be told, the house was the best part of living in that small Michigan town.


Our house is about 2000 sq. feet. It feels too big for me, since there are just two of us living here, but I imagine when young’uns come along, it will quickly seem smaller. My ideal house would be an old bungalow with a front porch, between 1200 and 1500 sq. feet.