You may call it "downsizing" but we call it just right.


Couples who are approaching retirement age typically have one of two goals when it comes to their homes: Stay in the larger family home they've lived in for decades with the intention of being the gathering house for children and grandchildren coming to visit, or sell that larger family home that likely is 75-percent empty most of the year and plan on downsizing to a more appropriately sized home. If you fall into the latter category, it can be tricky to determine how much space you and your spouse actually need, especially if you've been accustomed to living in a 4- or 5-bedroom house.

Since Southern Living has so many diverse house plans in our collection, we've come to learn which are the best and most loved layouts for each stage of life. And if you ask us, the perfect size for a retirement home is 1500 square feet. That may sound small (again, especially for anyone used to two or three thousand more square feet than that), but when you look at plans that maximize that square footage, it's clear that it really is the right amount of space—not too small that you still can't host family gatherings and out-of-town guests, but not more space and bedrooms than you actually need or will realistically use.

If you ask Southern Living House Plans Manager Lil Petrusnek, 1500 square feet is the perfect size house for just about anyone. According to her, the key to making the most of your space in a home around that size is building larger rooms that serve multiple purposes—like a combined kitchen and dining area—and making the most of your outdoor spaces.

Most empty-nesters still want the space to feed and entertain large groups, which is why downsizing to a small condo or townhome can be unappealing. Sticking with a house that's around 1500 square feet certainly doesn't limit the size of your kitchen, living, or dining areas.

The Sugarberry Cottage plan features a very spacious main floor, with a large kitchen that opens right up to the combined living and dining area, all of which is surrounded by a wraparound porch that extends the home's livable space outside. The Whisper Creek, Farmdale Cottage, and Nautical Cottage plans all prioritize large living areas as well, while either skimping on the size of additional bedrooms and the number of extra bathrooms.

Many couples heading into their golden years will also prioritize single-level living—something Southern Living's River's Edge, St. George Cottage, and Pine Haven plans all offer, while still fitting in three bedrooms, which means room for family and friends who come to visit.