We’re big fans of the design philosophy that smarter homes can be smaller. There seems to be a magic zone of square footage where a house is everything it needs to be and nothing more. Taking all of the factors into consideration, that number seems to be about 2,500 square feet of conditioned interior area for a family of four.

[All Photos by BUILD LLC]

Our latest built project is an example that stuck to a design discipline of smart interiors and a tidy square footage. The house itself is a ground-up project sited in a new residential development in Bellevue, Washington. So the skies were the limit (you know, after the jurisdictional requirements). The clients were not interested in building a disproportionately large home just because they could. We’re reminded of Bill Buxton’s words: Now that we can do anything, what should we do? Well, we decided to be responsible and responsive architects and builders. The square footage came in just shy of 2,400 s.f. with about 430 s.f. of unconditioned garage and 300 s.f. of deck.


Top 5 strategies for smarter, smaller homes:

Overlapping functions. Kitchens that open up to dining rooms, dining rooms that open up to living rooms, home office zones in the living room, etc. By reducing the number of permanent walls, adjacencies become more fluid, blurring the lines between one room and the next, and allowing greater flexibility of use.

Combine the circulation. Circulation volumes, as opposed to walled corridors, allow movement from one room to any other room. These circulation volumes typically eliminate the need for multiple hallways. Additionally, it can become an inspiring space that incorporates large windows, strategic views, and high ceilings.

Compact bedrooms. Keeping bedrooms smaller encourages the family to spend more time together in the common areas. Built-in cabinets and efficient closets help bring down the square footage of bedrooms without compromising the comfort and functionality of the sleeping quarters.

Floor to ceiling windows. Large windows open up the rooms and allow for better daylight and natural ventilation. The added natural light and views to the exterior give a small room the ability to elicit a feeling of being more spacious.

Don’t be afraid of boxy. A boxy exterior is generally the most authentic expression of what the house is actually doing on the inside. Authentic is efficient and straight-forward.

Let us know what your smart and small strategies are in the comments below.

Cheers, Team BUILD