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Choosing a home design can be hard enough, but when you need to reduce the amount of square footage, it makes the task even more difficult. Square footage might need to be kept down for a number of reasons. Maybe your budget only covers a certain house size or maybe it’s just a personal preference. Regardless of the reason, designing your home more efficiently can help you keep your square footage down without missing out on floor space you need.

Decide on the Rooms

Before you can design your home, you need to decide what will be included in the floor space. How many bedrooms do you need? How many bathrooms? Make a list of the different rooms and spaces you’d like to have in your home. Determine how many floors you will have and if you’ll have a basement or a second story level. Square footage is calculated with habitable space, so areas such as hallways and stairways will be included in the overall calculations, but garage space and porches will not. Keep this in mind as you begin the initial steps to designing your home.

The Room Dimensions

Once you’ve decided on the rooms you will include in your floor plans, you need to decide on the rooms’ dimensions. Children’s bedrooms can be smaller than the master bedroom, and if you would like to have multiple bathrooms, you might want to consider adding a half bath to help reduce square footage. Talk with your architect and discuss optional ways to put the rooms together into a comprehensive floor plan. This floor plan should not have any extra space since this space would increase the square footage rather than lower it.

Cut Out Some Walls

Interior walls are calculated into the total square footage of your home. If you want to design your home more efficiently so that you can keep your square footage down, you should reduce the amount of dividing walls in your home. This can be done by removing a dividing wall all together, such as a wall between a dining room and living room, or by reducing the wall’s length to create a more open space.

Vaulted Ceilings

There are a few additional features that can be added to a home that will increase the size of the home without adding square footage. One of these features is vaulted ceilings. If you have decided on having a two story home, you can keep your square footage down by designing your front foyer or any other area to have vaulted ceilings. This means that the ceiling in that space will go up to the second story. The square footage for this space will only be what’s calculated on the main level, and the second story will not include the extra space.

Add a Porch or Patio

Another way to increase the size of your home without increasing floor space is to incorporate an outdoor porch or patio. This can contribute to the aesthetics of your home without compromising your square footage since a patio or porch is not calculated as habitable space. There are many different styles and sizes of patios that can be designed, and your architect will have a better idea of how to include this area into the design of your home.

Include a Garage

The same calculation rule applies to garage space, so you can include a garage in your home’s design without adding square footage. If you include a garage in your floor plans and you are designing a two-story home, you have a few options for the space above the garage. One option would be to plan habitable space, such as bedrooms or bathrooms, above the garage, giving you square footage on the second story but not the main level.

If you are hoping to have more storage without the square footage, you can design the space above the garage to be a crawl space. An experienced and creative architect firm will better be able to help you create the perfect home with the right amount of square footage.

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Natalie Dohrn, AIA, LEED AP. Principal and owner at Summit Studio Architects With roots in residential design, Natalie brings more than 15 years of experience in commercial and community building design throughout the Pacific Northwest and Colorado mountain regions. Joining Summit Studio Architects to renew an interest in residential design, she is recognized for bringing value to her projects through the advancement of design and for her demonstrated commitment to quality.