Gregg Fous Perspectives in Real Estate


Size Does Matter in Florida Real Estate

Size Does Matter in Florida Homes for Sale

Americans are downsizing to smaller homes. It is no secret that "Mac Mansions" are becoming out of favor. Here in Florida, and of course in our local Cape Coral and  Fort Myers housing market, buyers are gravitating to more compact homes. There is high demand in the $100,000 to $300,000 price range. (Indeed the most unique small home I have seen lately was the Funky Fish House) .


There are emotional as well as financial reasons to downsize.  People feel more secure in a cozy, well built, smaller home. Families are spending more time together than apart. We also get emotional security in economic trying times by not being extravagant, by conserving, by saving.


The economic benefit starts with the obvious point that smaller homes should cost less to build - although perhaps not less per square foot, the total cost to build should be less. There are also insurance costs, heating and cooling costs, and maintenance expenses that will decrease with smaller size.


When I was a kid I grew up in a small "Cape Cod" style home. The kitchen had a table in it and it was really the center of activity.  One of us could reach the refrigerator door to get some more milk without getting up from the table. Back then the kitchen was the multipurpose room - it was compact secure, and indeed I have nothing but wonderful memories of  being in that kitchen. Home designs today are gravitating toward recreating that secure  memory.


Here are some design tips to help achieve intelligent design in a home to achieve a downsized living space


  1. Reduce air-conditioned space with the effective use of outdoor space. Here in Fort Myers we are uniquely qualified to extend our living area to the outside of the house.  We can have screened porches and gardens. Entire walls can be made of sliding glass doors that pocket away and expose the porch. Roll away hurricane shutters can be installed along outer screen walls to create security and usable living space in the colder months. This space is not included by the taxing authorities as air-conditioned space, but in fact is almost as usable as space that is air-conditioned with proper design and orientation to the sun and effective use of hurricane shutters.. When Gail and lived at Harbour Isle, a mid rise condo project in south Fort Myers, we had shutters installed on our  Lanais. We shut them when ever we left the home, allowing us to prevent rain and dust from harming the full set of high quality outside furniture that we kept there. In the winter , for evening parties, we could lower the shutters and with the pocket glass doors open, this space became part out our living area.
  2. Eliminate Superfluous Space.   Sitting areas in bedrooms, hallways, and defined transition space are all areas that can addressed.  While bedrooms can still be comfortable, more attention to closets and storage will have a greater benefit than extra sitting area in a bedroom that may be duplicated elsewhere in the home..  Hallways should be eliminated by designing the home off a central core. Transition space can be achieved by décor, color, carpets, and ceiling heights instead of requiring additional square footage.
  3. Share Space.  In a home not all rooms are used all the time It's impossible. It should be an easy matter to share, for example, a little used guest room with an office, a dining room with a living room, or an entrance way with a sitting parlor. Most families do not need two separate living areas, one where you greet the insurance agent and one where you entertain family and friends.  How often do you use your living room?.
  4. Built-ins. From offices to laundry rooms, to beds hidden in the wall, the possibilities are endless.  In the kitchen, cabinets should go all the way to the ceiling for little used items. Some kitchens now come with removable panels at the kick plate for additional storage (common in Europe). Flat screen TV's have removed the need for bulky TV cabinets and can now be built in.
  5. Flow.  Visual flow is important in making small home seem larger. Eliminating visual barriers also allows you to share space from one use to another - like a dining room and family room or  kitchen and an entertainment area (bar). The elimination of hallways makes traffic flow critical - the use of light, transparent furniture and the visual targets or magnets like well lit  alcoves or art is helpful

 Gregg Fous

Comment balloon 2 commentsGregg Fous • February 07 2010 07:43AM
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