I love studying old house plans. Not plans for homes that have been built in the past 20 years but the homes which were constructed during the 1930's thru 1960. My favorite style is the Bungalow and most of these would only take up a foot print of 46ft x 54ft and some even at 38ft x 48ft for the first floor and then would have some space on the second floor for either bedrooms or a den.
Like most people I grew up in a house that was pretty modest in size and by today's standards would be considered small if it was not for the addition that my Dad built onto the home as us kids were approaching our teen years. My Mom still lives in the house I grew up in and I think back to how the home which started off as a three (3) bedroom with one full bath and a powder room; kitchen and combined dining/living room with a carport at round 1000 square feet turned into an 1800 square foot structure over time.
One factor that has increased the square footage size of current day housing is bathrooms. On the majority homes built prior to 1970 only had a single bathroom or at the most two bathrooms. For today's standards we have bathrooms as part of each bedroom in the home or at least two bedrooms sharing a bathroom and then a separate powder room for guests to use. Another factor which has increased the overall square footage of homes is the actual size of the bedrooms. Before 1970 a "sleeping room" would be an average size of 8 x 10 while current day standards of 12 x 14 are a typical "minimum" for a bedroom.
Starting around 1970 there was a trend of having "family rooms" or "game rooms" in addition to a living room and this is a trend which is still found in most current floor plans thus creating a larger floor plan or "foot print" for a home. I always wonder as our homes have grown in size over the years are we making them larger than what is actually necessary. How large do our homes truly need to be?
The open floor plan has helped to reduce some square footage to current day house plans as formal dining rooms take up more space and are used less often than having a full size dining area incorporated into the living area right off of the kitchen. In addition; open floor plans require less hallway space because there are fewer partitions to move around and hallways are essential to create passageways from one room to another so if you have fewer hallways you will decrease square footage.
In looking thru some old Bungalow plans the closets are very small; I find a few with 'dressing rooms" but this is an exception; not the norm. Large dining rooms were essential in a Bungalow but this makes sense as most socializing and gathering for families prior to the 1960's was around the dining table. It goes without saying that you will not find a "theatre" or "media" room in a Bungalow layout nor do you find laundry rooms as most laundry areas were located on a rear porch area.
I love the plans that have a "screen sleeping room; or sleeping porch" which was always located off of a bedroom area; usually on the 2nd floor, this was extremely practical as Bungalows did not have central air cooling systems. A key feature to most Bungalows besides built-ins and a fireplace in the Living Room were porches and lots of them. Bungalows always have a front porch which is typically raised off the ground by a few steps and there was typically a small porch off the rear of the home where the "utility" and laundry area could be found.
Not all Bungalows have a 2nd story but for those that do; they sometimes would have a balcony or two and most have gabled style roofs. Outdoor patios areas would always have pergolas and a few of the larger homes would include a small den or even a "conservatory". There are many Bungalow style homes around the downtown historic area of Prescott so next time you have a few moments take a little walking tour and see if you can identify the homes which were built in a Bungalow style and check out the charm that these homes possess while not boasting a lot of square footage.