Yesterday I wrote about a family who found that their big dream house was separating them as a family. This led to some interesting personal replies and links about what is a good size for a family house.
We used to live in a lovely small house of about 1100 square feet. Facing the prospect of three growing kids and one bathroom, we moved down the street to a house of about 1800 square feet with two more half baths. It is hard to know how exactly to measure the space - we have an attic which makes a wonderful teen bedroom, despite the 4-foot ceilings in most of it. Likewise, the dry basement is good for storing things, though it is not living area.
In any case, I find the size of our house to be ample for our family. I am delighted that our house has long been the place that teenagers hang out and sleep over. Last Christmas we had our college girls back with their friends and a horde of teens in the attic - all at the same time. Mrs. G. and I sat by the fire, reveling in the life of the house.
As I look at the websites offering advice on a good square footage for families, the modest consensus seems to be about 200 per person. We are well over that. I have been trying to figure out how a smaller space would work for us. None of the kids share a room. We also have an old outside porch that has been enclosed, which is additional space, though a bit awkward. Still, we seem to be over the recommended family-sized house, without feeling too spread out. Hmm; perhaps I shouldn't count the attic and basement.
As I think about how we use the house, we do seem cozier. We tend to gather together when we are all home. Still, as I imagine what we would have to do with a room lopped off of each floor, we could adjust well.
I think one of the things that makes McMansions so hard on families is that each room tends to be large, larger than the family needs even if they were all together at once. That may be the next frontier in thinking about family-sizing a house.