16 House Plans Under 1,800 Square Feet That Are Perfect For Empty Nesters

Nautical Cottage, Plan #224
Photo: Southern Living

Your flock has emptied the nest. You're looking around a big, quiet house that is full of memories, to be sure, but that is suddenly too big and quiet. What does that mean? It might be time to downsize. Let's make something clear: Downsizing doesn't need to feel like downgrading. This approach is all about making the most of your square footage with smart design, which is just what Southern Living House Plans do best.

These house plans all fall under 1,800 square feet, which is really all you need for easy living. Do you want somewhere cozy to take your coffee in the morning? Try a house plan like Hawthorn Cottage with screened-in porch space that lives larger than the biggest living room. Are you worried about enough sleep space for family visits? Pick a house plan like Cloudland Cottage that incorporates bunk bed nooks in otherwise-unused spaces. These small house plans are perfect for downsizing in style. Whether you're ready now or you're just window shopping, here are our top picks for empty nesters.

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See Plan: Hawthorn Cottage

Hawthorn Cottage, Plan #2004
Southern Living House Plans; Photo: Lake and Land Studio, LLC

2 bedroom/2 bath
1,611 square feet

This cottage is made for easy living, from the large shared space to the private bedrooms to the cozy screened-in porch (that preferably overlooks gorgeous Southern scenery). The bedrooms and bathrooms are in their own attached wing on the side, allowing for privacy. In the common area, the fireplace beckons all comers to make warm memories.

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See Plan: Fontanel Carriage House

Fontanel Carriage House, Plan #1856
Southern Living

2 bedroom/2 bath
1,099 square feet

If you enjoy smaller living, rejoice! This Fontanel carriage house plan packs its 1,099 square-feet full of country farmhouse charm. Two floors are used in a design that makes every square foot count. What we want to know is how much time you will spend on this home's charming porch.

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See Plan: Beaufort Cottage

Beaufort Cottage, Plan #1136
Southern Living House Plans

3 bedroom/2.5 bath
1,720 square feet

This Carolina-inspired cottage is a beautiful blend of past and present. A galley-style kitchen and fireplace-focused living space makes the house plan feel warm and welcoming. Upstairs, the two bedrooms share a Jack-and-Jill bathroom, making this space perfect for hosting.

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See Plan: Palmetto Cottage

Palmetto Cottage, Plan #2009
Southern Living House Plans; Photo: John McManus

1 bedroom/1.5 bath
656 square feet

Want something extra small? Look no further than this Lowcountry-inspired guest cottage with an eat-in kitchen, a private bedroom suite, and gracious front porch living. It's perfect for those who travel often and desire little-to-no upkeep.

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See Plan: Canton Row

Canton Row, Plan #1938
Southern Living

3 bedroom/2.5 bath
1,623 square feet

The three bedrooms are spacious in this charming two-story. An open kitchen-dining-living space allows for entertaining and family time when hosting, but your favorite part will be the side screened porch. It's the perfect little nook.

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See Plan: Shoreline Cottage

Shoreline Cottage, Plan #490
Southern Living

3 bedroom/1 bath
930 square feet

If you want something simple that still lets you capture serene views from all sides, this house plan is the way to go. The board-and-batten exterior, gabled roof, and generous porch set a traditional tone, while tall windows and an open interior make the home more modern.

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See Plan: Nautical Cottage

Nautical Cottage, Plan #224
Southern Living

3 bedroom/2 bath
1,315 square feet

Inspired by small summer cottages in the South, this house plan with an open living-dining-kitchen space is basically made for those who love relaxing at home. Cedar shakes on the exterior bring a genuine feel to the charming cottage design, and the Nantucket star design on the porch lends real personality.

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See Plan: Randolph Cottage

Randolph Cottage, Plan #1861
Southern Living

3 bedroom/2.5 bath
1,800 square feet

Mix your Southern charm with a little bit of New England style. This cottage lives bigger than its just-right size, thanks to an open floor plan. The two full baths are ample, along with bedrooms that provide plenty of space for visitors or family.

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See Plan: St. George Cottage

St. George Cottage, Plan #1906
Southern Living

3 bedroom/3 bath
1,581 square feet

This coastal-inspired cottage makes the most of its compact square footage with an open layout. The plan allows natural light to flood the home, if you place it on your property just right. May we suggest positioning the full-width rear covered porch in front of bay or ocean views?

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See Plan: Whisper Creek

Whisper Creek
Southern Living

2 bedroom/2.5 bath
1,555 square feet

If this isn't the perfect house plan for a empty nesters' mountain or lake escape, we don't know what is.

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See Plan: Cloudland Cottage

Cloudland Cottage, Plan #1894
Southern Living

2 bedroom/2 bath
1,200 square feet

Who said you have to sacrifice sleep space? This cottage makes use of its small square footage with smart bunk bed nooks (apart from the two bedrooms) for when you're hosting family in town. A nearly 200-square-foot back porch makes a perfect place to hang.

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See Plan: Sparta II

Sparta II, Plan #1810
Southern Living House Plans

3 bedroom/3.5 bath
1,804 square feet

For those having a hard time giving up the square footage, explore this Colonial-inspired house plan at the tippety-top of our range.

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See Plan: Rustic Beach Cottage

Rustic Beach Cottage, Plan #360
Southern Living

2 bedroom/2 bath
1,398 square feet

We made sure to give this beach cottage a touch of Southern charm with its large covered porch with lattice detail. The back deck area is perfect for summer cookouts with your family or neighbors.

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See Plan: Sugarberry Cottage

Sugarberry Cottage, Plan #1648
Southern Living

3 bedroom/2.5 bath
1,679 square feet

The layout of this two-floor house plan will feel similar to a traditional family home, which will make the empty nester transition easier. Plenty of covered and screened porch space helps the space live larger than its not-too-big size.

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See Plan: Deer Run

Deer Run Plan #731
Southern Living

2 bedroom/2 bath
972 square feet

This house plans shows cabin living at its best. It makes for the perfect hideaway for the lake or mountains, with a design that combines compactness and rustic styling. The front porch looks like just the place to set up a couple of chairs—or hanging swing—and take a load off, don't y'all think?

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See Plan: River's Edge

River's Edge, Plan #1977
Southern Living House Plans

3 bedroom/2.5 bath
1,721 square feet

You'll find rest and relaxation is easy to come by in a small but spacious house plan.

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