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Thread: Thoughts on "necessary" bedroom sizes

  1. #1
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Thoughts on "necessary" bedroom sizes

    My wife and I have looked at many houses over the last couple years (though have yet to actually buy anything) and I have also reviewed hundreds of new house plans in my job. One thing that also strikes me about housing hunting/new house construction is the sizes of bedrooms.

    Personally, when I see new houses with master suites of 400+ square feet, I think about what a giant waste of space. Especially, when the closets and baths are easily the size of an additional bedroom. Alternately, I am sometimes surprised when people say that some old(er) houses have "such small bedroom sizes".

    My opinion is that having a master suite is great, but one hardly ever needs, for example, a 20'x18' bedroom with a 15'x15' closet and a 10'x14' bathroom (with separate shower and jacuzzi tub - does any one ever use the jacuzzi tub?).

    I don't see the purpose in wasting so much building space on the private side of a house when you could easily add more bedrooms, and I would rather allocate the space to the public realm of the house. Or simply build less house, which is more to my liking.

    Basically, I usually ask this one simple question - "Do you actually 'live' in your bedroom?"

    So, after all that - what is the opinion of the rest of Cyburbia?
    Last edited by mendelman; 02 Apr 2009 at 12:46 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I completely agree. What baffles me most are some of the condos here that have a master bedroom/bathroom/closet area that is larger than the common areas combined. In a one or two bedroom condo, do you really need 50% or more of the space to be "private"? I don't get it.

    Also, I don't understand the fascination with larger and larger and larger bathrooms. A lot of the newer houses I've been in (in several different parts of the country) seem to think that every bathroom must be the size of an ADA-compliant bathroom at the local mall, including the one that we used to call the "powder room". A few months ago I was at a friend's new house in the Atlanta area that had a bathroom off of their living room with only a toilet, sink, and small medicine cabinet that must have been at least 10'X10'. It looked absolutely absurd.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    This is all market driven. People will pay the premiums for these features in homes. My wife and I even considered the "5-piece bathroom" upgrade in our home. A lot of people like and use these features frequently.

    While you wonder who would ever buy or use such a thing, they are wondering the same of you using a small area.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Mud Princess's avatar
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    I agree, it is pretty ridiculous. Those master suites are at least the size of our living room. More space = more $$$ to heat and furnish (and more area to clean ).

    We had what we considered a good-sized bedroom at our old house, but it was only because the previous owner had taken down a wall between two existing small bedrooms. Even though we were able to fit our entire bedroom set in the room, it would seen as tiny by today's standards.

    I don't want to live in a hotel room.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian cellophane's avatar
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    by not having a TV in my bedroom i only use it for bedroom related activities now. my closet is tiny (3dx5w) and i have a 6 drawer dresser and a standup california closet thing i keep sweaters and the like in. one bookshelf that is nothing but a junk collector. my computer is in another room and i if want to watch tv or play on the xbox i have to go into the main part of the house which is (obviously) shared with my roommate. having 'lived' in my bedroom before with the computer and a tv in the room i really like not having all that stuff in my room. it provides a nice separation between life functions. afterall - its a bedroom, not a living room.

    i personally tend to agree with mendelman on the absurdity of those giant bedrooms and bathrooms, although i would love a bigger closet and some innate sense of organization to keep what i have cleaner

  6. #6
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    I don't see the purpose in wasting so much building space on the private side of a house when you could easily add more bedrooms, and I would rather allocate the space to the public realm of the house. Or simply build less house, which is more to my liking.

    Basically, I usually ask this one simple question - "Do you actually 'live' in your bedroom?"

    So, after all that - what is the opinion of the rest of Cyburbia?
    Yes.

    But 60-80% of the consumers out there (note I didn't use 'people') don't consider what you consider. They are wowed by the 20' ceiling and the huuuuge bedroom (isn't that romantic!) and don't think about the heating bill - just that it looks like Samantha's or Billy's house on TeeVee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! and wonder why their bills are so high.

    That is an oversimplification of our country and who we plan for. Some think about these things, some don't (hence the 'market driven').

  7. #7
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    This is a small part of something greater. A situation that is facing our communities on a daily basis.

    Living in a Northern Colo. bedroom community, we have an abundance of houses with similar features. Lots of great interior design (with features that consumers want) and extra space to house all the designer furniture and latest electronics.

    What we lack in abundance is the same attention to design on the exterior of the home as well as community/neighborhood involvement.
    People have become more withdrawn and will relish the interior environment while spending little time outside. These are the people who will pull into their car hole and shut the overhead door prior to exiting the vehicle, walk inside and immediately turn on the giant screen TeeVee and zone out for the evening. Makes me glad that I am witnessing this while socializing with my neighbors outside... These are the same folks that call up and complain about their neighbor, but don't know their neighbor even after living together for 3 years.

    Just a rant, I guess.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  8. #8
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    Zman, I would think that what you're describing - great interior design coupled with bad exterior design and people who spend no time outside meeting their neighbors, etc - have to be related.

    (I'm perfectly fine with anyone buying whatever they want in a house. If the vast majority of people are asking developers for 400 square foot bedrooms, then sure, the developers would be stupid to not respond to those requests. I still find it weird, but hey, I've been to a loft conversion in SF that was basically just a 1200 square foot bedroom with a tub and toilet in the corner and kitchen along one wall. Not a good place to invite guests to, unless you think they'll never need to use the bathroom I guess I'm just old fashioned - I want a decent sized place for entertaining in the living/family/dining/kitchen rooms and relatively small bedrooms. A nice master bath would be nice, but the rest can be bare bones as far as I'm concerned. It's hard for me to find new places built with those specs.)

    Just think of it this way - the more features you have inside your house, the less you need to go outside your house. The cooler the inside of your house looks, the less you care about the outside of your house.
    Two wrongs don't necessarily make a right, but three lefts do.

  9. #9
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    bedroom size discussion

    Hi,
    I lived for many years in an appartment designed by Bart Prince. It was really wonderful, with the appartment being basically a large diamond shape divided in the middle with a large closet with a traditional tubroom and galley kitchen.

    What I loved about it was the windown seats at each angle of the diamond and a built in vanity outside the bathroom. Plus the ceilings were high and the atmosphere was very psychologically uplifting.

    The livingroom and bedroom where the same size. I slept and had an eisle set up in my bedroom and in the livingroom my desk and books and TV. The one flaw
    was a small breakfast bar across the front of the kitchen. I would have
    prefered a small two person kitchen table.

    It was a complex of about 25 units and I loved living there. I had owned a house previously with a standard ranch style layout and never felt the same sense of increased enjoyment from my surroundings I did in the Bart Prince appartment.
    I grew up in big country houses but still with old values about bedroom usage.

    So, now that I live in Paris, space is very expensive very much like New York city.
    Bedrooms are traditionally small spaces for sleep and clothing storage. I have seen Parisiennes practically hyperventalate seeing an american sized walk in closet.

    My perspective, is that architecturally well thought out rooms are more pleasant than just space. So if given the choice I would like some thinking behind my room structure. Not just space for spaces sake. Its the design that makes the room not the space I guess is my underlying point.

    christine v

  10. #10
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    My master bedroom is 15x12. I don't have a walk-in closet and my master bath is only about 5x5 with a shower stall, small sick and toilet.

    And, I think 15x12 is just right for me. All I have in there is my bed, night stands, armoire, hamper, mirror and computer desk. If the computer desk wasn't in there it would almost feel too big to me.

    My girls' rooms are 10x10 which feels a bit cramped. If I ever buy another house I think I'd prefer to get them bigger bedrooms, that can hold more toys so fewer toys end up stored in the living room.

    Growing up in a 1920s 4-square, 3 bdroom house, my parents bedroom took up half of the entire second floor and is probably about 22x15... ridiculously big. While my brother's room was a measely 8x10.

  11. #11
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Our master is about 15 x 16. The adjoining bathroom, that includes 2 walk-in closets, 2 separate sinks (across the room from each other), a toilet, a tub, and a separate shower, also measures about 15 x 16.

    I guess I'm the odd man out and I make no apologizes because I like the design.

  12. #12
    Dan Staley's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN View post
    This is a small part of something greater. A situation that is facing our communities on a daily basis.


    People have become more withdrawn and will relish the interior environment while spending little time outside. These are the people who will pull into their car hole and shut the overhead door prior to exiting the vehicle, walk inside and immediately turn on the giant screen TeeVee and zone out for the evening. These are the same folks that call up and complain about their neighbor, but don't know their neighbor even after living together for 3 years.

    Just a rant, I guess.
    This is the human condition. Folks self-sort to where they want to live when they have the means to migrate.

    I live in a McSuburb with my better half. Both of us would like to live closer in to Denver in a nicer neighborhood with amenities, but not in this economy. So we observe all the houses with no one outside save for us and a few others. The other folks have moved here because they want to live in a place like this. They think nothing of idling their cars while sitting waiting to pick up their kid from school when the house is a 10-minute walk away.

    This is much of America. I don't expect to change it. I won't change the neighbor. Nor their neighbor.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    I love a spacious master suite. My old house had a 17' x 22' master bedroom. The bath was 9'x10' with separate shower and tub, and the walk-in closet was attached. I had 9' ceilings in the bedroom. There was a huge bay window that faced south to let in tons of light. There was a large window in front of the tub as well. I could set a chaise in the bay and lounge on it to read in the sunlight. No TV or electronics allowed, but I could arrange all of my furniture in there with plenty of room to move around.

    I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with a smaller space, just as there is nothing wrong with a larger one. The key is in design. A poorly laid out space is bad whether it is big or small, and a well-designed room is always going to feel good.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  14. #14
    NIMBY asshatterer Plus Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    Our master is about 15 x 16. The adjoining bathroom, that includes 2 walk-in closets, 2 separate sinks (across the room from each other), a toilet, a tub, and a separate shower, also measures about 15 x 16.

    I guess I'm the odd man out and I make no apologizes because I like the design.
    I forgot some other nice features: Duel French doors off the bedroom onto the pool patio, a glass block window over the tub, 10-foot ceilings in both rooms, and ceiling fans in the bedroom and bathroom. Everything works nicely.

  15. #15
    The average size of a house peaked some time ago and was declining even before the housing bust. Part of this, I think, was the return of new construction inside urban areas. Its hard to make giant rooms in places where land costs are so high. It will be interesting to see what is the new norm once construction begins again.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Jen's avatar
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    Admittedly I like my large bedroom, basically its a new room attached to the old room. Now its used as dressing area with closet, desk, book cases, low couches and tables, with a bureau. The other side is bed, bureau , closet, table chairs,and windows. And a tv on the wall.

    One can get up early and not disturb the other. We do have to share the bathrooms with the house. I am fine with that.

    Small Room Decorating, a mag shows tons of space saving ideas for smaller "homes"

  17. #17
    Cyburbian jmello's avatar
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    We currently live in a 1970s house with a tiny master "suite" with a small closet and half bath. Our next house needs to have a bedroom big enough for a king size bed, a walk-in closet (or two) and a large full bath.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I've noticed this oddity too. For example, the Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit has recently reopened and about half of the space is now devoted to Condos, with the smallest condos being one bedrooms with about 850 square feet. Even though these are one bedroom, they still have a Suite Bedroom set-up requiring an additional half-bath, and a lot of wasted space that could better be devoted to living or storage space, you could even carve an extra bedroom in there if you do so creatively. Does a one-bedroom condo of 850 square feet really need a walk in bedroom closet or a half-bath?
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  19. #19
    Cyburbian fringe's avatar
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    I built my "master suite" in '96. It is 24x24, containing BR, BA, and closet.

    It is spacious, and feels good, has a killer view of our twenty year old landscaping.

    It is big enough to contain a recliner and a piano, and is a quiet refuge when other parts of the house get a little noisy.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Detroit Planner reminded me of hotel room sizes. On a Pacific NW roadtrip, my buddy and I had stayed in many places while on the road. In Seattle, we stayed one night in an OLD hotel across from the library downtown The name escapes me... This old hotel had very small rooms, even the single rooms were very tiny by today's standards.

    Seems size has transcended outside of the home as well.
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    Just for myself personally, I chose one of the smaller rooms in the house as a bedroom because there's only a few things I do in there and they don't need a lot of space. The "master bedroom", which is still small by most standards, is a study/second living room.

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Plus Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    Hmmm.... I spent a lot more time "living" in my master before I moved up to the panhandle. The bedroom was maybe 14 x 12 with a small closet and a bathroom you could barely turn around in. It was cozy lots of yellows and whites, with a lovely view of the back yard and pond out back. At least that was my thought; probably anyone else would have called it cramped and confining.

    I don't "live" in the master here. The windows across from the bed are over the patio, and behind the bed, the neighbors' side wall. No sun, no view.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Emeritus Chet's avatar
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    My "master" is 18 x 20 but its the entire 2nd floor. No bathroom up there - the city conservation commission would not let me expand. The closet is a tiny 4' x 9' the deep way. I'll be happy to leave this place in 8 days.

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