Functional Small Floor Plans

Posted by in Articles, Floor Plans | 11 comments

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written a post about small floor plans, so I decided to focus on functionality and design. How many times have you walked into an enormous house, yet were disappointed with the layout and functionality of the floor plan? I know that in my personal experience, the McMansions that were so popular during the housing boom were some of the most poorly designed floor plans I’ve seen. Plans that had too much wasted space; cubbies that seemed to have no purpose; open areas in places where there wasn’t any flow of traffic – these floor plan mishaps not only take away from the functionality of the design, but also cost moneyΒ  -square footage that still must be heated and cooled.

Of course, if you had a choice over what kind of floor plan to choose, functional floor plans make the most sense. But what constitutes a functional floor plan?

  • Rooms that serve a purpose
  • Traffic flow throughout the house – the rooms should be laid out in such a way that you don’t have to walk through a bedroom to get to a living room or den, etc. Or walk past an unused living area to the “main family area”
  • Plenty of storage
  • Minimal wasted corners, landings, or seating areas

Some good choices include bungalow style plans. Bungalows vary in size, but are typically under 1,500 square feet. Their exterior design can range from Craftsman to Cape Cod. These small floor plans normally focus on the living/dining/kitchen area as the central “living area” with the bedrooms anchored towards the back or to the sides of the house. Bungalow plans include both open floor plans, where the kitchen is open towards the dining and living areas, as well as more “closed” floor plans, where the rooms are only connected by doorways.

Bungalow Small Floor Plan

Bungalow Small Floor Plan


Ranch Style Small Floor Plan

Ranch Style Small Floor Plan

Ranch style plans are another preferred, functional choice, depending on your individual style. Ranch style plans are traditionally one-level, however newer styles offer two-levels. The main living area (living room, kitchen, dining area) are clustered together either towards the middle of the house or on either end with the bedrooms grouped together as well. Ranch plans can range in size from small (1,000 sq. ft.) to very large (over 3,500 sq. ft.)

The benefits of choosing smaller, more functional floor plans can mean huge savings in your electric and gas bill. It may also mean you accumulate less “stuff” because you have fewer wasted areas that end up getting filled with things you never use. Another good reason for a small floor plan.

When you bought your home, did you consider the floor plan and its functionality? Are you thinking of buying or building a home and seriously considering a smaller one?


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Kellen

    I was looking at houses earlier this year, and man there are some bad lay outs out there. Especially looking at older homes. Our house now has all the bedrooms down one side, and the living area is an open space parallel to the bedrooms. Our biggest problem is that 1) the bathroom I share with my roommate is on the other end of the house to our rooms and 2) we seem to never use the dining area, which is in between the kitchen and living room, so that’s mostly wasted space. I do love walking out of my room and just being *in* the rest of the house, without needing to go down a hallway or stairs.

  2. krantcents

    There was a trend to build for older people at one time. Smaller efficient homes were a trend and then it stopped. Maybe they did not sell? I would love a well designed small 3 bedroom 3 bath house. The problem is well designed at a reasonable price! I guess I may have to wait awhile!

  3. First Gen American

    The floor plan was definitely key. I walked away from a number of homes that had funky layouts or rooms in strange places (like having to walk through a bedroom to get to another room.)

    My house is only 1700 sq ft and I’m constantly getting comments that people are surprised that it’s not over 2000. The open floorplan makes it feel deceptively large. Plus, we don’t have any great rooms or big hallways or winding staircases. That helps a lot. I love your housing posts. They are fun.

    • Little House

      @First Gen American – I personally like open floor plans myself because they give the optical illusion that the houses are “bigger” even though they aren’t. Thanks for the comment – I love researching houses so it’s fun for me as well. πŸ˜‰

  4. retirebyforty

    Our condo has a pretty functional floor plan. The kitchen was closed off from the living area and we remodeled to open it up. I like the opened style much better than the closed style.
    Our old home has a great room. I like it a lot, but it doesn’t help our heating bill. It also had first floor master bedroom.

    • Little House

      @Retireby40 – Do you like the master bedroom on the first floor? I can see benefits to that as the kids get older (and you’d prefer them on a separate floor πŸ˜‰ ). But I could see that as an inconvenience when they’re young and they need you during the night. I guess if I end up not having kids, this won’t matter. πŸ˜‰

  5. Money Reasons

    When the builder was building my house, we had them put a wall up where there was going to be a huge living/rec room combined. We honestly wanted the extra wall space though.

    I’ve been in McMansions and have seen the wasted space that you’re talking about. It’s funny seeing a ginormous house with only three large but modestly sized rooms compared to the rest of the house. Of course, it’s that way because of the huge halls and 20 foot ceilings.

    I thought that same as you about heating and cooling those mansions… :)

  6. Untemplater

    From time to time I like to visit open houses to see what’s on the market and also to get inspiration from beautifully staged rooms and clever landscaping. Open floor plans are my favorite. I’ve never been a fan of the Victorian layouts b/c even though the houses are beautiful and ornate, the layouts feel claustrophobic and spread out with individual rooms off shooting from really long hallways. And I totally agree that smaller homes means less stuff, less to clean, less utilities, and a lot less headaches. -Sydney

  7. Jason

    You always have to have a gameplan! Always!


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