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When it Comes to the Size of Your Home, Dream-size!

January 29th, 2020

By Antonio Alonso

3 min read


At AV Architects + Builders we often meet with clients who are looking to build a new home because they want to change the size of their home – upsize, downsize or rightsize. In our experience, the actual needs and desires of the clients are not solved by a magic number of square feet. We work with our clients to come up with the home that makes them feel like they are on vacation year-round. Instead of thinking in terms of square footage, we want to offer a new way to look at the change: dream-size.


Our clients are justifiably concerned about cost per square foot because they associate a specific number with what luxury should look like. The size of homes has changed significantly in the last century. According to 24/7 Wall St, from an average square foot size in the 800s in the 1920s to 1,200s in the 1950s to 2,300+ in the new millennium, home size has increased incredibly. The same goes for luxury homes. These days in the Northern Virginia area, a popular benchmark for a luxury home is 8,000 square feet. Clients come into the office with that number in mind and not necessarily a clear vision of what the home could actually look like. The conversation very quickly turns to rooms and spaces – we discuss what 8,000 square feet could accommodate, and we explore what the client actually wants in terms of usable space.


To get to the heart of the matter, we ask some critical questions:

  • How do you live? Are you homebodies, or out an about most of the time?
  • What spaces do you expect to live in the most? Clients are often surprised by this question, because it is such a simple issue that can define the entire home. Is the bedroom a well-used oasis, or do you gather in the kitchen more often?
  • Who will the house be serving? We want to know the age range of the people living in the house since this plays an important part in the layout of the home, the number and location of bedrooms, and the details in the design that can accommodate the needs of the very old or the very young. We don’t stop there. For example, a family with dogs may want a mudroom with a dog bath.
  • How will the house be used? If you entertain frequently, or your home is the location of family gatherings, or you collect cars or wine or artwork, the home can be designed to best accommodate these pass times.

This doesn’t mean that we start from zero every time we meet with a new client. We stay focused trends of modern house design and utility, making sure that we advise our client based on the many years and homes that we have created. There are some basic design concepts that we know will fit our client’s needs.

When talking about dream-sizing, we think in terms of ratio of use. We consider the levels of the house, and allocate the largest square footage to the main floor, using less space in the upper and lower floors. The main level will have a focus on indoor/outdoor flow to maximize the space and incorporate the outdoors into the usable area. By allocating an inviting utility to the entire square footage, the main floor – with all of the “living spaces,” no steps and a master suite – will be the place where the homeowner will spend most of their time. The other floors will be for bedrooms for children, parents and guests, and peripheral spaces like a home gym, a wine cellar or other rooms.

In other words, square footage is not the starting point in our process. Instead, we want to know the what the client dreams of as a perfect place to live, and we conceive of designs that fit these criteria. We look at the spaces throughout the home: relationship of spaces; hierarchy of spaces, and relationship of outdoor spaces to the rest of the spaces. By focusing on the space rather than the overall size of the house, we design from a point of utility outwards instead of size inwards.

Our clients often realize that they have different actual square footage needs based on space usage. Our process helps to clarify their actual needs and build around them. Whether the home is 3,000 or 12,000 square feet, we want the entire home to be put to regular use, contributing to the sense of vacation year-round.

Are you interested in a home that makes the most of every space, so that the entire home is used and loved? Contact us for a consultation on how to dream-size your home.


9903 Georgetown Pike Suite 201
Great Falls, VA 22066
(703) 865-5065