Ideal Square Footage?

Ideal Square Footage?

Pop upIn the quest to achieve a simpler and more enjoyable life, we all need to be asking questions about space, ideal square footage, and how we inhabit a home. After all, home is not only where the heart is, but is also where we spend a lot of time, energy, and money in the quest to maintain it. Over the last few years we have been captivated by the process of questioning how we live in a home and if that experience is bringing us joy or not. We believe that the question of ‘what brings me joy’ is a vital one. Its one that we ask ourselves in nearly every decision we make. Does so and so bring me joy? We have lived enough years under the impression that one must suffer in life to grow to the next level and to take life seriously. Fortunately, it only took 40 years to shift our viewpoints and to prioritize joy.

We are happiest when living simply in small housing. After all, small and tiny houses are easy to clean freeing up time, less expensive to build and maintain freeing up money to do things like travel and play. Also, its nearly impossible to keep a bunch of old crap one doesn’t need in a very small space. There just isn’t room for it. Living small in many ways demands attention to detail, presence of mind and open communication. After all, there is not really anywhere to retreat to when there is an upset. How do we know that living small is our favorite way to live? Because we have been able to test this concept again and again over the last few years while experiencing various living situations (from pop up tent trailer, to 2,000 sqft house, to extremely ‘fancy’ house on the larger size as well). At no time did we feel more at ease in life and able to tap into our joy and creativity than when we were living in the tiny pop up.

In living simply comes a sense of calm and contentment that most people didn’t realize they were missing until they scaled their lives back (belongings, expenses, living sizes). But what is not so clear, is just how FAR to scale back. Honestly, we think that the tiny, under 150 sqft houses are too small for long term living, even for just a single person. We would love to be proven wrong so if you feel strongly that we have this point wrong, share your tiny house living experience. We have not heard from anyone living in less than 200sqft say that they wish they had built smaller. However, we have heard from many that 500sqft was too big and they wished they had built smaller. In all of this speculation lets say that we are considering square footage requirements for one-two adults with no children living in the home.

We don’t think there is a magical square footage number that represents the housing needs of everyone on this planet in any way. Nor is that number even important to find because ultimately, all of these factors are extremely personal and each and every person that is building or choosing a space to live in should explore how they occupy space. It’s a fascinating process and what you find out about yourself may surprise you!

If you are not sure about where to begin in the process of learning about space, how you occupy it and ultimately what brings you the most joy when living in a home, let us know. We have some ideas, exercises and fun activities that we created and used ourselves that we would be happy to share with you.

HappyWe also want to clarify that it’s important to follow the guideposts towards joy, but not necessarily comfort. Making a change into simplification can sometimes actually be the opposite of comfortable. The process of thinning out can be new and disorienting. Going against the status quo can be unsettling and bring up doubt. Fortunately, there are so so many amazing people out there that are exploring the concept of home and space that one doesn’t need to look far to find ideas.

It’s all an interesting journey isn’t it?! And for us, every time we think we’ve got it figured out, there is another layer of depth even beyond that. And that’s a great thing. Nothing stays stagnant. 🙂

Want to learn more about tiny house living and how to build a tiny house? Want to do so for FREE? Sign up for our totally free 7 Day Tiny House eCourse! Find out more HERE.

17 Responses to Ideal Square Footage?

  1. bob henry October 3, 2013 at 8:40 am #

    I have see it in print somewhere that a tiny house should start at 120 – 150 sq ft minimum for a single person. For each additional body sharing the space one hundred sq ft should be added. So a Mom, Dad, and child should idealy have 350 sq ft as their minimum. I am single with two tiny dogs and the 120 sq ft in my caboose tiny house seems adequate to me. I will go on record that I have yet to make it my full time home as I am in transition but feel for what I gain financially it will be a good and comfortable move.

    • Gabriella October 6, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

      Thanks for writing Bob! Interesting stat about size that you read in print.

  2. Jay Olstead October 4, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    I concur with those ideas on square footage expressed by Bob Henry. Do you remember the feeling of spaciousness, or lack there of, in the early model rv and campers? Let’s be honest…. Most people will admit that was a sense of being sonewhat claustrophobic. When the slide out was introduced a few years ago, the rv and camper industry exploded. Buying a rv or camper with 3 or 4 slideouts is now commonplace. At Ragsdale Homes, ” Next Generation Series” of tiny homes, we think and build outside the box. We have introduced the patent pending, “Room Roll Out, ” which is our answer to the issue of living in a tiny house which is not so tiny. Our 8 by 20 trailer pushes the envelope with over 380 square feet, 275 square feet of wood decking, utilizing just 3 ” Room Roll Outs.” Next, our mediterranean model, with a trailer size of 8 by 28 is approx 480 square feet with 4 ” Room Roll Outs. This represents the same sense of spaciousness as a 40 ft rv with 4 slide outs, however there is a big difference in the ceiling height….Approx 6 ft. 6″ vrs. 11 ft. 6″ . Big difference. If any one is interested, our official Press Release in now available. Just forward your email. Additionally, we now have three animated videos on You Tube for your viewing pleasure Chow Jay Who id M Ragsdale III ? (1) (2) (3)

    I am currently building a prototype of a tiny house for the purpose of solidifying my patent pending ” Room Roll Out.” I have an electric model and a 1 inch scale model, however, I decided to build a much smaller house to enable transporting to and from conventions, other venues, etc. My prototype is a 8 ft by 8 ft 1900s Sunday House complete with washboard siding, huge windows, and will feature one ” Room Roll Out.” I’m sure that some tweaking or alteration will be necessary on the first one. This particular tiny home, however, will be coming in at just under 180 square feet, making it the largest tiny house with that small foot print. This will also be the testing grounds for my first collapsible roof for easy transporting down the highway. When up righted the home will represent a 1 and 1/2 story home. This will also be my first home with solar 12 volt air conditioning and our proprietary tropospheric water precipitation generator. Additionally the roof tiles will be solar. I must admit…..this house will pack a powerful punch. Also, I am finishing up on my new 8 ft by 28 ft Mediterranean model which will push the envelope with over 480 square feet, featuring 4 ” Room Roll Outs,” solar faux clay tile roof, fireplace, awnings, railings, faux stucco exterior, and more. Next, I am working on my Coastal Living, beachy model for those who want to live by the water’s edge. chow Jay

    • Gabriella October 6, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      The slide out idea is a great one. We have been in several RVs and it really does make a difference when an RV essentially pops open with slide outs. There is hardware that one can buy to be able to modify their own tiny house builds to include them.

  3. Jay Olstead October 27, 2013 at 9:03 pm #

    At Ragsdale Homes, we intend to sell our patent pending ” Room Roll Out ” in a kit. Our kit will allow an existing home owner to retro fit one or more “RROs” to their existing home. We will offer “RROs” in three sizes. The depth will be consistant with four feet. We will offer most of the existing roof elevations, just add your siding, windows, and roofing material. The difference between a RV slide out and a “RRO” is that we use no hydraulics or worm gear. It is a tried and true manual system, requiring just two adults for set up. Each “RRO ” will take about 15 to 20 minutes for set up. When placed accross from the outer wall of your home, a “RRO” will create 12 linear feet of width. When installed opposing one another, there will be a net width of 12 feet. Imagine what that might be like. Additionally, we want to sell our kits for future builds. The problem with RV slide outs is that the industry standard depth is 30 to 36 inches and seldom goes floor to ceiling. Also, most important, the hefty price tag. Ours will be reasonable in price. Ciao Jay

  4. Jacquie R. April 30, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    Hi Gabriella,

    I just found your website and it is great! This article was inspiring. You mentioned that you have some ideas and activities to share to learn how you occupy a space and what brings you the most joy living in a home. I would be interested in hearing about. Your ideas. One of my favourite things is soaking in a hot bath so that would be tough to give up.


    • Gabriella May 1, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      Thanks for writing Jacquie! We do have a few ideas/exercises and at some point I will sit and write them all down. In the meantime, I’ll share my favorite: the 365 Day Rule. Go through EVERY SINGLE item in your house and be honest in answering the question, Have I used this in the last year? If not, it goes. No ifs ands or buts about it. By that one simple exercise about 60% of our worldly belongings easily went away. In terms of the hot bath, I could never give that up either so we bought a wood fired hot tub. Nothing like enjoying the night sky with the smell of a cedar tub! 🙂

  5. Nori C. June 30, 2014 at 8:20 am #

    Hi Gabriella,

    I’m really inspired by what you guys have done!! I’m currently taking you ecourse 🙂

    Anyway, maybe this is answered already but what do you recommend for multiple children? I saw a reply to one of your posts about recommended sqft. It was 120-150 sqft for a single person plus and additional 100 sqft per person.

    Thankyou in advanced!

    • Gabriella July 1, 2014 at 10:35 am #

      Thanks for connecting! It depends on how many kids and how many adults living in the space. How cold/wet the winters are (how much time can you spend outside in the winter months). Will you be building on a trailer or fixed foundation. There are tiny house folks living in the 150-200SF range with 2 young kids. I think the sq ft recommendations you mentioned are pretty good.

  6. Bob August 13, 2014 at 10:35 am #

    As you mention, the space needs of everyone cannot be defined by one set of standards. That said, there is a very valid point that the vast majority in the U.S. really have no clue what their real space needs are. Everyone has an impression based on what they were taught or exposed to when young and growing up, and that is modified by the continual barrage of commercial advertising promoting bigger/”better”/more. I spent most of my school years growing up in rather large sized homes, one was a 100+ year old home with an “attic” designed for a maid to live in. My first bedroom that wasn’t shared was actually the entry landing to the live-in attic in that home. It measured about 7 ft wide by 9 ft long and fit a twin bed on one long wall, dresser on the other with wall mounted shelves over the bed. My first tiny living space and I loved it! I thoroughly enjoy tent or mini-camper camping (no bigger than a double bed for floor space with storage under and folds in half to tow). I recently “woke up” from my stupor of blindly following “conventional wisdom” that embraces significant support of the commercial consumer lifestyle and have been purging my stuff slowly over the last few years. Unfortunately my wife is very different in this respect. She likes big spaces and hanging on to things. But she is very slowing realizing she doesn’t need everything she is hanging onto. Just recently she began to rid herself of some things that have been boxed in storage for years and forgotten about, and even some clothes that haven’t been worn for a very long time or don’t fit any longer. She’s a teacher by trade and a very good cook. She still hangs onto teaching supplies that will likely never be used again (about 1/4 of our total storage space) and also many duplicates of cooking utensils that “might possibly someday” be needed for cooking. Kitchen design is very important to her in any house. I know I can live in a small space, even many of the classic modern tiny houses being build these days. But she would still have a hard time accepting life in even a small house under 1200 sq ft. I think if it had a large kitchen she would tolerate it, but just barely. Getting back to the point… as you said, there is no standard space that can be defined. It is very individual.

    Still working on downsizing stuff… if not space.

    • Gabriella August 14, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

      Thank you for taking the time to share Bob! Your description of your first unshared bedroom sounded great. I’ve also always been drawn to small and quirky spaces. Even in all the large beautiful homes we lived in growing up, I would always choose the little nooks and crannies to call my own. I’ve always loved boats in part for this reason.

  7. Dawn Zimmerman August 28, 2014 at 10:28 pm #

    I really don’t know where to begin the process of learning about space, how I use it, and figuring out what gives me the most joy living in a home. I would be very interested in those exercises, activities and ideas that you mentioned having in this article!

  8. jon December 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    I own a small piece of property in CO. Close to Denver and also Boulder, I think I could get it thru zoning and building dept. to build tiny homes.? That people could buy have a small piece of land (to garden, make there out-door living space theirs) in a small gated community. These would be a fixed on a foundation. What are your thoughts? and sizes of homes and lot sizes?
    Thanks for any input

    • Gabriella December 12, 2014 at 8:46 am #

      That’s a great idea Jon! These are big questions. Your starting place should be to connect with you zoning and building departments and to see what their parameters are and then take it from there. Keep us posted! We would love to hear about how it goes for you!

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