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paint_chips

House size: How big would be TOO big for you?

paint_chips
16 years ago

There is *yet another* article concerning the growing home size in America. It is a thread where many will defend or justify their lifestyle choices.

After reading the article, I was left with a question: Is it always excessive or do we really live larger lives? No need to impress here, this is space for your family, not resale, or for "the neighborhood".

------------------------------------------------------------

How big would be too big for a well-designed house that fits your family's needs?

Too big for us would be X, and why you need that much/little space.

Too big for us would be 2,200 sq. ft. There are just two of us and we spend all of our time outdoors.

Anyone else?

Comments (90)

  • arebella
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    "arabella,
    I think you've hit on something very important. That's why if someone wants to build, I say, get your lot first. THEN design the house for that lot. I think that's why some houses look so out of place. A floor plan was plunked on a piece of land with no thought to integrating the two.
    Not exactly related to the original topic, I know, but...."

    Yep. One of the standing principles of good design at any size or in any price range is to make the house fit the place where it's to be built, not the other way around. We've all seen huge houses plunked down on tiny golf course or suburban lots, where you can practically stick your arm out the side window and touch your neighbor's house. We've also seen tiny houses that look like playhouses on huge pieces of acreage that scream out for a house more in portion to the space. I've also seen someone buy a wooded ravine lot and then go in and mow down the very things that would make the lot so special - the old wood trees that just can't be replaced. Instead of designing the house to fit the special features of that land, this person tried to alter the land to fit the kind of house he wanted to build - a Florida style Mediterranean of stucco and tile roof. Then, after mowing down the woods and leveling the naturally rolling land, after he built the house, he re-planted non-native species of trees and whines about not having any shade for years to come. The whole thing is an abomination of design and sticks out like a fake red nose on a clown's face!

    His architect was one we considered and interviewed until he took us to see that monstrosity. It's a beautiful house, but it's in the wrong place. This guy came highly recommended to us and he's designed beautiful houses, but I knew that I could never work with someone who would agree to disregard his design instincts just to get the job.

  • carolyn53562
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Since DH doesn't like having strangers in the house to do cleaning (we had a bad experience), too big is bigger than DH and I can maintain ourselves, which right now is 4,000 sq ft. including the basement rec room. 4,000 may sound big to clean yourself, but it is open floor plan and we really don't have a lot of rooms (it's a 3 bedroom plus office house with no family room but a big rec room down the basement) so it is easier to clean than our old house which was smaller but had more rooms.

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  • willie_nunez
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    arebella,
    I respectfully disagree. Or, perhaps it's just that you're approach would not work for us.
    We had very specific requirements for the house, its design and purpose. And, this became a major criteria in finding/selecting the lot. It took a long time to find the "perfect" lot, one suited for accomodating our house design, and for satisfying our other requirements. Designing and fitting a house to any ole lot would never work for us.
    However, if you're already "stuck" with a less-than-perfect lot, that's a different story.

  • allison0704
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Leilani said "What's next to be scrutinized by others - the amount of children, pets, vehicles or handbags one chooses to have?"

    I've been around long enough to see ALL those scrutinized on GW.

  • arebella
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    "arebella,
    I respectfully disagree. Or, perhaps it's just that you're approach would not work for us.
    We had very specific requirements for the house, its design and purpose. And, this became a major criteria in finding/selecting the lot. It took a long time to find the "perfect" lot, one suited for accomodating our house design, and for satisfying our other requirements. Designing and fitting a house to any ole lot would never work for us.
    However, if you're already "stuck" with a less-than-perfect lot, that's a different story. "

    Actually, you're not disagreeing at all. :) In a way, you're doing exactly what I discribed - making a real effort to fit the two components of good design - the house you want and the land that makes it work - together as a whole entity. That's exactly what I mean. it doesn't matter if you buy the land first, then design the house to suit it, or figure out exactly what you want in your house design, then find the land to suit it, it's the same result. - good design.

    What I was talking about is picking a piece of land and then sticking a house on it that doesn't take into account what is suitable or aesthetically pleasing. I realize it's all a matter of personal taste and while I respec that, in the example I gave, if this guy really wanted a Florida style Mediteranean villa, there are far better places to build it than smack in the middle of Ohio Amish country on a wooded ravine lot. There are plenty of golf course lots or even some suburban lots where that house would be a showplace. As it is, I doubt he'll ever get his money out of it if he decides to sell because it ended up such a monstrosity.

    So in essence, we really do agree on this. :)

  • amyks
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Allison, I was thinking that exact thing when I read leilani's post!! Great minds and all that...

    Amy

  • jasonmi7
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I'm wondering why it would matter to someone building a house what others consider 'too big'? Or is the OP really that concerned about what a bunch of internet posters thinks of what they're doing????

  • anthem
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Though most will refuse to admin it, I think a lot of it comes down to envy/jealousy. Not all mind you but a lot.

    If it was truly a subjective judgement thing - then we would hear the same amount of complaints from people saying houses are 'too small' and not just too large. However, the majority is people complaining about other people's homes that its too 'large' because of (insert litany of reasons like cost of cleaning, doesn't fit landscpae, mcmansion, etc) I think might have something to do with that. And a lot of that ties back to size, features, or money envy. . .

  • chisue
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I like the Dutch saying about having a home no larger than you can care for without having strangers (hired help) in your home. You may recall "Dutch treat" as you think about this! Then again, the Dutch have long been the diamond brokers of the world: Small but Perfect" tops Just Big. (I almost said "trumps" but didn't want to start that discussion.) And, land is scarce in Holland.

    Our 2900 sq foot single story does have redundant rooms: DR, Guest Room. They are not used much, but *sometimes*. The terrace, patio and screened porch are not used most of the year either, but I'm glad we have them.

    We read in the LR; watch TV in the "Library"; eat lunch and dinner -- as well as breakfast -- in the Breakfast Room. Only the guest bath of 3 1/2 doesn't get used often. Basement is unfinished.

    We solved the problem cited by sue36 (land value too great for a small house) by building with walk-up stairs to a full-height attic. Someone can add another 3000 sq ft up there if they wish. Our one acre is zoned for a 6000 sq ft house. (Only having one child is why we stayed so long in our "starter" house, Sue; I know the feeling.)

    Sad to read Allison's post about the destruction of land. Couldn't happen here in our city -- not after the Mr. T debacle! That historic house is now being re-forested and the city has become super-vigilant about its trees. (I'm hoping to see our tree service here next week to inject our Century Elm.)

    It's funny to read about people commuting great distances to be able to afford bigger houses. We had to work hard to find a small-enough house, closer in. Our LOCATION is one of the most important things we love -- the lot, the street, the city.

    Have to sign off. The cicadas are driving me CRAZY and they've only just begun!

  • willie_nunez
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    This is a forum, pure and simple. Sit around the coffee table, or the campfire, and sooner or later the gossip starts, and there will be envy and jealousy. Many of us come to this forums simply to interact with others,.....I know I'm guilty of doing some of that (maybe a lot of that). Heck, about the only house question I've got is about Bali NeatPleat window blinds. Yet, here I am. And, you bet I'm envious. I look at the photos of Allison's house, or DemiFloyd's, and I start turning green. You think I wouldn't like to be able to afford stuff like that? The secret is to not allow your envy to turn into jealousy, and hatred,....don't ever be guilty of evil.
    Hey, there's a good Small House forum right here, and we have a lot of fun there too. I just posted pics of my big Eat-In kitchen room. Pride in what you have is not all bad, you know.

  • allison0704
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    LOL Chisue! You're the first one I've heard complain.

    Our gated is in the county. The Developer did file a lien (or something) and it sat looking awful for a year while they came up with house/landscape plans. The landscaping plan is suppose to be fabulous, but it won't be woods - everyone here bought because we liked the community and the woods! To be honest, his house belongs in a community down the road about 3 miles. It would fit right in and no one would complain about the trees, but they'd still complain about the ugliness.

    You'll here the "too small" from my community as well - the developer sneaked in two spec houses that look out of place, due to size and sitting too close to road. Everyone has at least 3 acres - so why put a house 150 ft from the road? If they had moved them back into the property, they wouldn't be looking at Mr I-Cut-Down-All-The-Trees from their windows. fyi, anthem, my house as well as the majority of houses here are as large or larger than his house. Ok...my rant is over. (I wish I could post a picture, but it's against my better southerness.)

    I haven't specified what is too big, for me or anyone else - I really don't care how large (or small) a home someone builds....and unless you throw out a 15K+ number, someone might take offense so why bother. What I do care about is building butt ulgy house and/or destroying the integrity of the neighborhood.

    I grew up in a 6K home for four, so that was normal. Having a larger one now for two is normal. We have three children - two attend out of state colleges and plan on staying there after graduation, so we anticipated needing bedrooms for when they are visiting.

  • paint_chips
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I'm wondering why it would matter to someone building a house what others consider 'too big'? Or is the OP really that concerned about what a bunch of internet posters thinks of what they're doing????

    No, I don't care what you guys are doing. My life is different than most, I value adventure over shelter. I just thought it would be a thought-provoking topic.

    The mass media puts so much effort in telling us that we live larger and waste more resources, I was only wondering if it really was wasteful. From most of what I have read, the majority simply need more space than 30 years ago. I am a 'consumer' of mass media who would prefer a dialog with other before accepting their message.

    The article in question has an example of a large family building a "large" home, but with all of those kids, I didn't really think that their home size justified them as an example. Not having children (not even knowing many), I am unable to judge for myself the validity of the article's stance. After comparing posters here with families, I don't believe now that the size of their home is in excess.

  • allison0704
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I'm envious of you catching/cooking up all those fish and eating those delicious pies, Willie!

  • chisue
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Supporting argument for the Dutch warning about too-big houses: Burglar is derived from "thief", which itself is derived from "hired servant".

    I don't know why this appeals to me so much. Heck, I'm French and Scots, not Dutch! (Ooooh, maybe it's the Scots part, huh?)

  • demifloyd
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Yea, mee too, Willie! You have a fabulous, well designed home with very special features; it's obviously you put a great deal of thought into it--well, I know you did since I've known you before you started on it!

    I did too--I spent several years thinking about how we might live in retirement, what we liked and didn't like about the homes we had lived in during our moves, and for the most part I was correct. We entertain a lot and our daughters have friends over so for this stage in our lives the house definitely isn't too big. I think we got ours about right--we cut it down at the last minute--got nervous--and I wish we hadn't. It was only a couple hundred square feet and I've spent way more money buying new furniture to fit the smaller areas than if I'd just built the house a little bigger.

    We're a little over 4300 with about 1800 in garage and covered porches. We have a good number of rooms, but most of them are average to small. About 4600 would have been better, but I'm not complaining.

    We lived fine in a 1500 sq. ft. house while building and as long as I had room for a little garden and yard outside, I could happily live in 900 sq. feet.

    Anything over 6000 would begin to get uncomfortable for me, although my neighbor is building a house over 10,000. Everyone is different.

    To me, what's more important is what has been mentioned--that the house and the lot fit one another. I moved from the Houston suburbs where 4500 sq. ft. homes are thirty feet from the street and you can read the shampoo bottles in the neighbor's shower windows. When a house looks like it is part of it's surroundings and doesn't hit you in the face with it's size--either large or small, then I think it's probably done right.

    I'd much rather have a smaller home designed to work with it's surroundings, built right, with nice furnishings, than a huge home, shoddily built with cheap, common furnishings, or no furnishings at all.

  • cefoster
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I like to read what others feel and think. I especially liked Willie's 1st post and said if no one liked it...then they can eat his shorts LOL!!!! That made me laugh - sounds like something my DH would say.
    I agree with that we shouldn't have to defend our choice about size of housing. For us, a mortgage that is manageable will dictate alot of what we will choose for our family. Take care everyone!! -Colleen in NC

  • soonermagic
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    This is such a personal issue, as we all live differently. We're building a house of roughly 2750 square feet. Cost and size of our lot dictated our square footage, but I wouldn't want it "much larger" even without those two limitations. For now, it's just DH and I, but we built this house with the hope of growing our family in the near future. I think this house can accommodate up to three children, but will require room sharing. Thankfully, the kiddos' bedroom is huge.

    In the way that we live, I don't see the point of having lots of rooms that don't get daily use. For example, we eliminated a formal dining room to give more room to our open kitchen/dining/family space. And, I would not allow a separate media room, when we already have a substantial plasma and sound system in the family room. I'd just as rather turn out the lights and snuggle up as a family on the couch for a movie. We're getting an extra deep couch with lots of pillows for that very reason.

    I do see where 2750 is going to be a bit tight for us already (though we don't move in for another 2 months): none of the pertinent closets are big enough; the master bath is a wee-bit too small; I would have liked an extra crafts space in the laundry/mudroom; would have made the landing/playroom a bit roomier; and would have preferred a fourth bedroom. (We sacrificed fourth bedroom for pool table room). That "ideal for us house" then would probably be 3350-3500 sq ft. But, we'll make it perfect for us, because I am so emotionally invested in this house that I can't envision going through another build process for 15 years ... okay maybe 5!

  • marge727
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I think Windsor Castle is too big for me. all those servants are a nuisance. Aside from that, I need all the space I can get, and I am not really a clutterer. I wish I had more outdoor space for a garden with a maze.

  • foolyap
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    How big would be too big for a well-designed house that fits your family's needs?

    I can barely keep up with cleaning the ~ 1800 SF we're in now (okay, that's a lie; I totally can't keep up with it), so more square footage would only collect more clutter, toddler toys, dust and cat-hair tumbleweeds.

    --Steve

  • chiefneil
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    "I can barely keep up with cleaning"

    It's interesting that so many talk about the effort to clean. I hate cleaning, always have and always will. Fortunately I haven't had to clean for years. Even if I became a single guy again in a 700 square foot apartment I would still have somebody come in to do the cleaning for me!

  • allison0704
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I love to clean. Always have. Years ago, I had a cleaning person briefly (maybe six months) before she moved out of state. I was so glad she moved! Did it as a favor since she needed the money and was good/trustworthy...but I'd rather do it myself. Even though this house is larger than our last home, it's easier/faster to clean.

  • foolyap
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Even if I became a single guy again in a 700 square foot apartment I would still have somebody come in to do the cleaning for me!

    DW and I both hate having strangers in our house, so prefer it to be cluttered and dirty to clean and invaded. :-)

    I actually don't mind cleaning per se, but there's only so many hours in the day. With a 3+ hour round-trip daily commute, and I do 80-90% of the cooking too, cleaning is mostly relegated to the weekends, among the hobby stuff I do like landscaping, woodworking, not to mention other chores and family obligations. When I had my ~ 600 SF apartment by myself, I kept it clean easily.

    We're saving for a Scooba (robotic wet-vac) and hoping it can cope with all the cat hair. DW's long-hair sheds actual mats, never seen a cat lose so much hair constantly despite frequent brushing. Fortunately, we have no carpeting, it's all hardwood or linoleum, so perhaps the Scooba can handle it.

    Anyway, sorry to hijack the thread. Seriously, a few extra hundred SF could be useful. If we were to build again (and we won't), we'd both love a library. Between the two of us we must have thousands of paperbacks and probably a thousand hardcovers, with almost no space to display them yet.

    --Steve

  • ardent_learner
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    "Too big" is certainly different for everyone. My house will be too big for some, but interestingly enough, part of that square footage entails more closet space, pantry, and storage to help keep me organized. I also have 5 kids, and they're all going to have their own bedrooms. Let me tell ya, THAT square footage really adds up. My husband is a builder and will have an office in the home (more square footage!). It really adds up in a hurry. My house is going to be big.But, every room has a much needed purpose, so I guess it's not too big for us. I grew up in a "starter" home, and my mom raised 4 children, so I know we can certainly do without a lot of our current square footage and get by just fine. I'm glad we don't have to though.

  • andyk
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Obviously this is a very sensitive subject. I think what it really boils down to is that people tend to differ on what they consider "good taste" and consideration for fellow neighbors when it comes to building homes.

    Sometimes it looks as if some people are just trying to hard to impress through size rather than the hard work and thoughtfulness that actually goes into making a house a truly beautiful home and a welcome addition rather than eyesore to the neighborhood.

    The notion that smaller must equal poorer and that larger must mean richer is utter nonsense. I don't see where the jealousy and envy fit in here either. It often costs much more money to build an exquisitely designed "small" home (per square foot) than it does to build many of the ultra-sized quick builds you see today. The question is whether the homeowner truly understands how to match their home design to the lot, neighborhood, and community. The sad thing is that many architects and builders don't advise their clients on good design choices because they're often times not in it to improve the neighborhood, nor to actually give their clients the type of home that will truly make them happy. Its all about the money- so they build these monstrosities with shoddy building techniques and the cheapest building materials they can find and sell it to their clients for ridiculous prices.

    Then these poor homebuilders are left wondering why everyone gawks at their houses and assume it must be because of envy and jealousy and often times it is not. They really don't like the home you built in their neighborhood. It looks out of place. Either it doesn't match the lot size so privacy is lost. It's too big so the general flow of the neighborhood is disrupted. It looks cheesy with all the cheap building materials and add-ons.

    Generally, people might assume that you're just trying too hard to impress and everyone else is paying for it. I've seen it in the very neighborhood where I grew up. The homes in my childhood neighborhood on Long Island weren't very large maybe they averaged around 1500 sq feet and they were built in the late 50's. They were tract homes but they were nice. Now some guy demolished a small home and built this huge 2 or 3 story monstrosity and it looks completely out of place. Standing on its own and on a lot 5 or 6 times the size of the lot its on now and next to other similar sized houses it probably would look pretty "nice", but the context in which it is now, it looks just damned ridiculous. I can't image how the two homes on either side of that edifice could possibly sell in the future.

    In my "opinion" the guy just has really bad taste and yes some people in that neighborhood are shaking their heads and wondering what the hell was that guy thinking? What was once a beautiful balanced neighborhood now has this huge monument smack dab in the middle of it.

    I'm trying to take the same approach I take when I buy finely tailored suit as it comes to building my new home. Yes it will cost MORE money, and no it won't have as much space as the homes that cost $80,000 less but with 1000 extra square feet. I want it to wear well, I want the detailed craftmanship, the fine materials, and the incredible fit. Let the man with the JCPenny suit 3 sizes too big look down on me. I'll take the Armani. (Is my home perfect? Hell no, but at least I'm trying to take my neighbors and neighborhood into consideration when I designed it, but you can't please everybody- as long as you're trying, your halfway there in my book.)

    Don't get me wrong, there are many examples of beautiful, extraordinary homes which are well over 10,000 square feet of living area- it's not ONLY he size that's impressive about these structures, its the extraordinary craftsmanship and detail that goes into building them. Its that some people don't understand that these kinds of homes take many years to build, millions and millions of dollars spent and housed REALLY RICH people that we can all really envy (a little).

    People tend to get a little unnerved when you riddle the landscape with cheap imitations of these truly extraordinary homes and so they give them a name like McMansion.

    Build it and they will gawk.

    Here is a link that might be useful: These are the real deal!

  • kateskouros
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    while i always enjoy touring the newport "cottages" i always found many to be done in questionable taste. superior craftsmanship, certainly. but far too many guilded walls and over the top ornamentation for my purist sensibilities.
    dh and i are building a home for us to enjoy with our family. i think a lot of homes -much like the newport mansions, are built to one-up the neighbors and even friends.
    one woman i know couldn't wait to go to her high school reunion so she could "show them how well" she did. off she went with a million pics of the giant box she was living in. which, by the way is missing such luxuries as a door bell and outside lighting. yep. she did good.

  • carolineb
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I think how much cleaning your home requires is not only a function of size, but of your family dynamics and lifestyle. While we were building our home we lived in a tiny condo and it was constantly cluttered. There simply wasn't enough room for all of our things. I did not have a cleaning woman at the time, but I cleaned constantly. When we moved into our new home (before we had children) it was probably 5 - 6 times larger than the condo and it was actually easier to clean. I did hire cleaning help, but they only came every 4-5 weeks. The house was always clean in between. Now that we have a very active toddler, the house is never clean enough! I have weekly cleaning help and I could honestly use them more often!

    C

  • allison0704
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    LOL, kateskouros - I've been around for two doorbell vs no doorbell threads!

  • chisue
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Funny but true that "clean" and "big enough" do overlap. There's "too big to clean without a lot of help" and "too small and cluttered to keep clean".

    A couple with one child about to go to college recently built a very large (10-12,000 sq ft) "chateau" (w/ballroom) on five acres not far from us. When their security firm owner ventured that it was quite large, he was told, "Now that there's just the two of us, we need more space."

    andyk -- Thanks for the Newport site. Now I want some big old topiary critters for MY yard! It was a time of Great Excess. Let's not forget that Newport was built by the New Rich of the day -- aping the gilt they'd seen on their first tours of Europe.

  • luckymom23
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    For us the number is probably 4000sf or over. We are more comfortable in homes under that size. I think 'perfect' for us right now would be about 3600sf. For us 'too big' has a functional component - a home that is too large for us to take care of and live in comfortably and a financial component - once we moved in and had to pay the mortgage, taxes, utilities and maintenance our home turned into a burden instead of a joy and would be too large for us. However, I love visiting large, luxurious homes and know that if we had a windfall it would very likely change our perspective and feelings about things. For me true luxury would be the ability to build wherever you wanted...I think I would choose several smaller homes in great locations over one huge home.

  • azdreamhome
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    We have 5100 sf (heated) and it's great (3750 main floor, 1350 finished basement). Could we live smaller? Sure. While we have a large home, it is still just 5 bedrooms (one used as office) and 3.5 baths. I think you can comfortably fit that into 3000-3200 sf (would prefer it on one floor only though). We are a family of four and have out-of-town guests. Kids double up in one room and we have two guest rooms. Not everyone would do this but it works for our family.

    To answers OP's question, I think "too big" would be 6000+ sf (heated). But that would be too big for our family, not someone elses perhaps. I don't judge people for the size of their homes....big or small.

  • andyk
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Kateskouros and Chisue

    Pretentious, opulent, excessive, conspicuously lavish those Mansions err "cottages" were.

    Mansions such as those were meant to awe and inspire if not intimidate. Living graciously was not in the vocabulary of those people and they had the money to prove it.

    I wouldn't take my 21st century sense of taste when I admire such grandeur. These homes were built by the finest craftsman of the 16th century and 17th centuries. Not exactly the place to copy interior decorating ideas mind you but certainly a good place to start. 11 of the grandest homes you can find anywhere spread over 80 acres.

    If you've never visited these mansions they are quite awe inspiring in person. Yes built by American nouveau riche, but as far as mansions go they are the real deal built of stone and mortar, iron and marble. No sheetrock walls nailed in by a few migrant workers from over the border. These mansions are the real McCoy.

  • anthem
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    "These homes were built by the finest craftsman of the 16th century and 17th centuries.

    Not sure if you realize this, but those Newport mansions were built around the latter part of the 1800's and early 1900's with the the primary ones between about 1885 to 1905. That places them squarely in the 19th and 20th century. Now, if you're saying those artisans from the 16th and 17th centuries somehow came over on one of the few boats to Jamestown and elsewhere and had amazing lifespans that made them 200+ years old when they crafted those houses - well I don't have proof to the contrary but I seriously doubt that many will believe you.

    I think what many people fail to comprehend is that most of these houses are but about 100 years old. That this was during a period that wasn't all that far away.

  • kygirl99
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I love tons of space, so I can't imagine a house too big for me. The mansions in Beverly Hills look good to me when they fit their lot size. (can't stand the ones crammed onto small lots.) It's all about size and how they fit into the neighborhood.

    So...that said, a house bigger than 7,000 sq. ft. would probably be "too big" for me. But I'm only talking about above-ground living space. Not the basement. heck, our current house is 6,000 sq. ft. if you count the basement. but I don't. it's only 3,600 sq. ft. above ground. and that's fine for DH and I and fit within the amount we wanted to spend. but I wouldn't have minded larger rooms and lots more of them. why not, if this thread is about dreaming and not reality?

  • kygirl99
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    wanted to add that land/lot size is as important to me as the house size. we're currently on five acres and I could easily see us happy on 20, 30 or more acres. that would be more important to me than building a bigger house.

  • andyk
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Not sure if you realize this, but those Newport mansions were built around the latter part of the 1800's and early 1900's with the the primary ones between about 1885 to 1905.

    You're right, don't know how I was off by 2 centuries, must be posting too late at night. Hehe, that would make the Vanderbuilts living side by side with native American Indians.

    Safe to say they are pretty old by American standards. I've got some nice pictures of my wife and I on the Breaker's grounds from a couple of years back. The Breakers is clearly the most extravagant of the lot. If you haven't been there you have to see these mansions at least once in your lifetime.

  • charles_von_hamm
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I call Newport my summer home even though I don't own a single square inch of land there. It's a beautiful place.

    Some of the mansions are much more "livable" than the others... Rosecliff and Chepstow for example, although Rosecliff does have a 3,200 square foot ballroom.

    There are three mansions not owned by the Preservation Society that are also open to the public:

    Rough Point, the former home of tobacco heiress Doris Duke; Beechwood, the first grand cottage, former home to the Astors and the location of wonderful guided tours by actors in period costume and finally,

    Belcourt Castle, my perpetual favourite and by far the most eccentric of the mansions in Newport. It's the only one open to the public that still has the owner, Mrs. Tinney, in residence. Mrs. Tinney is a wonderful lady and frequently guides tours of her home and is deeply involved in the day to day operation of the estate. I believe she has lived there for about 46 years.

  • andyk
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    They filmed parts of Gov Arnold's True Lies and the Great Gatsby in the Rosecliff Ballroom. The Rosecliff was my favorite.

  • foolyap
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Belcourt Castle, my perpetual favourite and by far the most eccentric of the mansions in Newport. It's the only one open to the public that still has the owner, Mrs. Tinney, in residence. Mrs. Tinney is a wonderful lady and frequently guides tours of her home and is deeply involved in the day to day operation of the estate. I believe she has lived there for about 46 years.

    Boy, I gotta say, as an extreme introvert, the thought of strangers running through my house and being okay with that is very surreal. Guess that's why I don't like B&Bs? :-p

    --Steve

  • chisue
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I'm with you, Steve! (Well not WITH you. Oh, you know what I mean!)

    Still, it's a neat trick, having gawkers pay for you to live in (somewhat reduced) grandeur, without having to take in -- gasp! -- boarders. She's just following the path of various lords of English manors who manage to keep their old piles patched together by inviting public tours. Longleat was one of the earliest to attract visitors by having a wild animal park and other entertainments on the grounds.

    Anyone care to come tour my "grounds" and admire the cicadas? (limited time offer)

  • breezy_2
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    IMPRESSIVE! 79 (now 80) follow ups in 4 days! A subject everyone truly loves to speculate on. Our first house was 1,750 sqft and we thought we had more room than anyone could ever want but soon ran out of room. Second and current house is 3,250 sqft and when we moved in were convinced we had more house than we would ever use but are now challenged for room. The house under construction now is much larger. We are a family of 4 with one already in college but we do have a 34 pound cat if that is any consolation.

    Too big is what is too big for you, not OP. To each their own. I liked charliedawg's answer too!

  • charles_von_hamm
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Steve,

    It's definitely not for all castle owners, I imagine :-) Mrs Tinney, however, lives in the south wing former servants' quarters, which are across the courtyard from the main part of the castle (north wing) and which can only be accessed by two (east and west) wings which are also closed off to the public.

  • charles_von_hamm
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Andyk,

    Rosecliff was used for the interior shots only in True Lies. The exterior was Ochre Court, another mansion in Newport. The Great Gatsby also used interiors from Marble House in addition to those from Rosecliff to create Jay Gatsby's residence.

  • chisue
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Fitzgerald first glimpsed the Wretched Excess he was later to adapt to fiction in Lake Forest, IL. (The home in which he was the awed guest is currently for sale. Westleigh Farm doesn't look all that grand seen through today's lens.) Fitzgerald was infatuated with this Midwestern excess as much as he was with the shallow daughter of the house, upon whom he based Daisy.

    (Do note the root word: fatuous. Doesn't it describe the overall feeling of many of the Newport mansions, especially given their placement in a locale with such fleeting clement weather.)

  • worthy
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Don't even try and top this one.

  • charles_von_hamm
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Chisue;

    I wouldn't say fatuous, given the existence of city palaces built by nobility in Europe on similar sized lots.

    Worthy;

    That is just plain ugly :-(

  • spanky1
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Never too big. Current home is 2,500 sq ft and I am adding another 2,300 sq ft right now. Need room to get away from my SO without leaving the house.

  • juniork
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    Worthy,

    Hahahahaha....I visited Mumbai once...I can almost see how that 'home' might fit in.....NOT!
    There's a rumor that someone in the Bay Area, CA built an 18,000sf+ Italian/Indian fusion home....sorry I can't find the link.

    We started in 1400sf, currently in 2600sf, looking to build 4000sf.

  • paint_chips
    Original Author
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    JuniorK- Is your need for greater space a reflection of your lifestyle or is it because you family has expanded?

  • lnhardin
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    I thought our 2300 sq ft. house was just perfect for the 3 of us...

    - then we decided I traveled too much for work and opened up my own business - in the house
    - then things grew and I added an employee - in the house
    - Then hubby took early out from the University and expanded his tax & consulting practice - in the house
    - then his practice grew and he added a part ime employee - in the house
    - then things really got successful and some parts of the year he can have as many as 3 employees - in the house!!!

    Net effect is that our 4 bedroom house some days feels like a 1 bedroom office - we no longer have a home. We are building on 20 acres in the country - house with a good sized office wing. I've redesigned about a dozen times and can't seem to get it down below 5000 sq ft. So, for us (and the assorted clients, employees and visiting relatives) I guess the perfect size is 5000 sq ft.

  • shawneeks
    16 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago

    We are 2 months into our 2,650 sq ft house and we think it's the perfect size for our family of 4. Having both a home office and a guest room, it would have been hard to make it smaller.