The Size of a Millennial’s Dream Home Is Shrinking

This is the new ideal square footage.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
tiny pink cottage with green dutch door

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Downsizing isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Millennials are no longer interested in McMansion-style homes. Their idea of enough space? 2,386 square feet, to be exact.

According to a new report from Zillow, the median square footage of single-family homes fell from 2,467 in 2015 to 2,386 in 2018 (the largest drop since 1988). Why the appetite for tight quarters? Many of today’s younger home buyers have “expressed a preference for denser, more urban homes that are more walkable to shared amenities,” according to Skylar Olsen, director of economic research for the online real-estate search company and author of the study. Smaller houses also happen to be easier to take care of: There’s less stuff to dust and fewer parts (windows, plumbing, etc.) to maintain over time. 

If you’re accustomed to having plenty of room to roam, chopping that amount of space in half can be jarring. No one wants to be bumping into things in their own home, so it’s important to be thoughtful about what you bring inside—and what you leave behind.

De-bulk by investing in flexible storage and seating that are both handsome and handy when guests come over (poufs and folding screens are your best friends). Bright white walls will also help create the illusion that a space is larger than it really is, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with color. Interior designer Jess Blumberg painted the obstructive pipes in her 780-square-foot apartment bright yellow, drawing the eye up and accentuating the height of the ceilings. 

And there’s always this trick: Take the doors off their hinges. It saves space every time, no matter the area (nursery, pantry, hallways). Remove the door from a random closet and suddenly you can hang shelves; add another piece of furniture; or, if you’re Lena Dunham’s designer, Ariel Okin, build out a wet bar. When one door closes, another one really does open.

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Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.