When buying or building a home, one of the most important factors when considering price, is the square footage under roof. This gives a far more accurate idea of the value you are getting for every dollar spent. However, to truly understand that value, it helps to know how much space has been allocated to each living space. A house may have a great square foot total, but if 20% of the space is allocated to the entrance foyer, are other more important areas suffering by being too small? We take a look at U.S room allocation averages, to give a better idea of which areas are being allocated the most space, and which are less important.
We created this graphic using data from the NAHB special study on spaces in new homes. This information looks at average space allocations across all homes. It should be noted that as this data includes averages for all homes, some of the percentages are made smaller by the fact that houses without that space, for instance a second bathroom, would pull the total down.
Average Space Allocations
We can see from the graphic that the main space allocation falls to other bedrooms. This can seem misleading, as it isn’t showing that other bedrooms are larger than any other rooms in the house, but rather, the allocation accounts for space for anything from one to four or more extra bedrooms.
If we look for the single space that gets the most floor space, the master bedroom would be it. We can assume there will always be only one of these per home, it’s in the name. So the allocation of 12% of the floor space or 309 ft2 shows how homeowners prioritize this space.
Kitchens and family rooms are a close second. Given that most homes also only have one of these rooms, this gives a better indication of the importance attached to these rooms in daily life. Relatively, they are the top two communal space allowances with 11.6% for kitchens and 11.5% for family rooms, of total house space.
Interestingly, the living room only takes up an average of 8.6%, however this relatively low figure could also be due to some homes not having both a family room and a living room. The dining room is another room that seems to take up a relatively small amount of space with only 7.4% or 192 ft2, however this again could be due to some homeowners doing away with a special room allocated to dining.
Bathroom space is still clearly important to homeowners, with the master bath taking up nearly as much space as any other bathrooms combined at 6% or 154 ft2 .
The laundry and foyer are allocated the least space, which again seems logical, given their daily use and space requirements.
Space Allocations for Small Vs. Large Homes
In the same NAHB study, the data was broken down to look at the differences between small (under 2,000 ft2 ) and large (at least 3,000 ft2 ) homes. This indicates how priorities for space arrangements change between home sizes.
The space difference allows for some interesting space totals, though again percentage allocations indicate the true importance assigned to each room.
For instance, all bedrooms in small homes account for 468ft2 , yet 1,080ft2 in large homes. This gives the impression the ratios have changed, yet both account for an equal 28.8% of total floorspace. That said the master bedroom gets the lion’s share in a small home of 14% compared to 10% in a large home, showing even with limited space, the master bedroom takes priority.
Bathrooms are allocated almost 2% more space in larger homes, while kitchens are allocated priority in smaller homes with 11.9% of the space versus 11.1% in larger homes.
The smaller spaces, the laundry room and entrance foyer, nicely illustrate how necessity dictates space allocations. Almost all homes have a laundry room, and so the space allocation remains almost constant whether in small or large homes varying from 3.8% to 3.5% respectively. However, the entrance foyer is less common in smaller homes, being an unnecessary use of limited space, so the percentages see a much bigger change from 2.9% in small homes, to 3.4% in large homes.
When looking at averages, living rooms seemed less important than family rooms. However when we break the numbers down according to home size, some interesting results appear. All home sizes allocate just above 11% to family rooms, yet large homes only allocate 7.5% to living rooms, while small homes allocate and almost even 11.8%. This translates to almost double the amount of space for the family room, compared to the living room in a large home.
Lastly, other space accounts for 10.3% of smaller homes yet 14.3% in larger homes. This could be anything from studies to private gyms, so it makes sense that these ‘luxuries’ would find more space in larger homes.
Consider your space requirements
When buying or building a home, total square feet are important, but as seen above, thought needs to be given to how much of that space is allocated to each room. To help find the ideal home, it is important to consider your family’s unique needs.
Some space allocations are obvious, like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms needed to keep your family happy. However other less obvious considerations need to be pondered, like, will you sit down to dinner in the dining room every night, or only at special occasions? If the latter, perhaps no dining room, or converting the dining room into a study or other space, would be more appropriate for you.
Sit down with your family and discuss priorities with each member then see if you can find a middle ground to meet everyone's needs on budget. That basement could double as a band practice space for a teenage son, and a den for games night for hubby and his buddies.