We all know that houses are much more than mere shelter from the weather and a place to rest our heads at night. They’re where milestones, large and small, are celebrated. They’re an extension of our personalities. They’re where we entertain, and, these days, they’re also where we work.
To satisfy these varied responsibilities, it’s important that we choose our layout with care and find a plan that can accommodate all potential uses, whether the need is immediate or something we anticipate needing down the road.
When it comes to accomplishing multifunctional goals, homes in the 2,000- to 3,000-square-foot-range sit firmly in the sweet spot. They have enough space to nimbly change as your lifestyle changes; one can convert a kid’s bedroom to a hobby space once they head to college, or perhaps transform a walk-out basement to an apartment where an aging parent can retain his or her independence under a watchful eye.
In fact, it’s this desire for flexibility that has brought ranch-style homes back into favor. “Ranch designs are popular because they are practical,” says Ken Pieper, a designer since 1966 and owner of Colorado-headquartered Ken Pieper and Associates. “They appeal to Baby Boomers, who are downsizing, as well as Millennials with growing families.” And it doesn’t hurt that single-level living helps ensure that buyers of any age or physical capabilities can stay in their homes as long as they like.
Today’s single-story ranch homes are a far cry from the linear (and often dull) designs of the 1950s. Owners are embracing unconventional layouts, including U-, O- and even H- and X-shaped plans. And, if you like the footprint but really want a multi-story abode, these architectural chameleons can easily climb to a second floor or descend to a walk-out lower level, depending on your site’s topography.
The bottom line is that working within these square footage parameters optimizes the balancing act between creating an interesting, livable design and staying within a reasonable budget. If that isn’t mastering multifunctionality, we don’t know what is.