Refined and Elegant, These Houses Offer Amenities You Won’t Find in Smaller Homes
In the early 2000s – until the housing bubble burst in 2008 – so-called McMansions were all the rage home building. The homes were generally very large and ostentatious to the point where they became poster children for bad architectural design.
Not only that, but the houses tended to be somewhat cheaply built – an example of quantity (of space) over quality – featuring overlarge rooms with little or no trim detail and no real thought into space planning, amenities, or the finer points of design.
When the housing bubble burst, so too did the appetite for building bigger for the sake of bigger. Those who did – or could afford to – build tended to build smaller and smarter.
In the years since, average home size has fluctuated but in the last few years has inched upward. Last year, according to the US Census Bureau, the average home size was 2631 square feet while throughout the 1990s it was below 2000 square feet.
Now, it is not unusual to see homes north of 3000 square feet being erected, and many families are building or buying large homes due to the improving economy and low interest rates. The number of homes built 4000 square feet or more has steadily increased since 2009 to a high of 80,000 last year – from a low 37,000 in 2010 – while homes 1400 square feet or less has steadily decreased – to 54,000 last year from 66,000 in 2010.
This stunning 4100-sq.-ft. Mediterranean-inspired home exudes luxury and style. Attention to detail in the rafter tails, eye-catching cupola, tmber sun shade over one of the garage doors, and more make the curb-appeal difference. Inside, there's a massive master suite, expansive living areas, and outdoor living par excellance with a pool, outdoor kitchen, and outdoor fireplace on a rambling, partially covered patio (Plan #175-1102).
Why Build a 4000 to 4500 sq. ft. House?
While there are many reasons homeowners might build a large house, one certainly is to accommodate a large family; another might be to spoil oneself with luxury.
A 4000 to 4500 square foot house will have 3 to 5 good-size bedrooms – plenty or an average-size family – and 3 to 5 or more bathrooms. Although you could fit as many bedrooms in a smaller home, the larger house allows for bigger rooms and more space for utility and recreational areas – an indulgent in-house gym, playroom, media or theater room, or even a bar – without sacrificing square footage for everyday living and sleeping space.
A family might even want to go multi-generational – incorporating an “in-law suite” complete with kitchenette and living area for elderly parents or older children who need or want to live at home – and thus build a larger home to accommodate that need.
At 4376 sq. ft., this magnificent European style home with brick and stone siding exudes the feeling of French country manor and embodies many of the aspects you'd expect to see in a home of this size. Besides the impeccable exterior, the home boasts an interior with a 2-story vaulted foyer with grand curved staircase, large master suite with sitting area, expansive kitchen with walk-in pantry, family and living rooms connected to the kitchen and each with its own fireplace, 3-car attached garage, 4 bedrooms and 4.5 baths (in effect 4 master suites), and extra space for a library with fireplace, billiards room, and home theater/video room (Plan #198-1054).
What’s It Look Like?
A luxury house plan up to 4500 square feet can technically be almost any architectural style, but some designs seem to rear their heads more often than others. More-traditional styles are the norm. And it may surprise you to learn that almost one-third to one-half in our collection are 1-story structures. Some of the more popular architectural styles are
Top: This quintessential sprawling Ranch style home is actually luxury on two levels, with its 4219 sq. ft. of living space and daylight/walkout basement. It has 4 bedrooms, 3 baths, a 3-car garage, 10-ft.-high and vaulted ceilings on the main level, and 9-ft.-high ceilings on the lower level (Plan #162-1039). Middle: This magnificent 4171-sq.-ft. home embodies a number of styles in its impressive exterior design. There are touches of Shingle style, Craftsman, and Arts & Crafts in its County facade – and it makes quite a statement in its spectacular curb appeal (Plan #165-1051). Bottom: Perhaps making more of a traditional "large house" impression, this remarkable 4041-sq.-ft. European style home makes takes on a stately stance with its brick and stone siding and grand arched entrace (Plan #106-1167).
What’s in It?
Luxury is probably the first word that comes to mind when you think of a large home. And let’s face it, these houses are huge homes by anyone’s definition. The typical features and amenities of luxury home plans of this size include the following.
1. Grand Entrance
Houses of this size usually go the extra mile to make a good first impression. The approach to the home, the front porch if any, the doors and surround will all dressed to impress.
This 4268-sq.-ft. Craftsman type home with 3-car garage (top) makes quite the statement upon approaching it, with its complex roof line, deep overhangs, and impressive detailing. A closer view of the front entrance (bottom) reveals huge stone bases for the columns that hold up the portico roof and double wooden doors with glass lites. The gables on the house proper form an interesting asymmetrical cluster that draws you in as you approach the house (Plan #202-1006).
2. Stunning Staircase
With a statement entrance usually comes an equally awe-inspiring foyer and – in a two-story house – staircase. A towering foyer and a set of stairs that curves in a gentle sweep are almost always sure to cast a spell on visitors.
Nothing beats first impressions, and nothing makes a better first impression upon entering a home than a grand staircase that soars to the upper level. This staircase in a 4458-sq.-ft., 4-bedroom, 4.5-bath luxury European style home sweeps visitors off their feet with its curved elegance and circular landing, all finshed in blonde wood with an elegantly patterned stair runner (Plan #106-1295).
3. Lots of Room for Cooking
A large house means of course you can have a large kitchen. And anyone who takes cooking seriously, has more than one “chef” in the family, or just often finds him- or her-self with “cooking assistants” when preparing meals knows that the more space dedicated to the kitchen, the better. You might have an extra-large island – or even two islands, one for meal prep and one for eating, entertaining, and overflow prep – or you may prefer to dedicate the extra space to a butler’s pantry. Some large-house homeowners choose to double up on certain appliances like dishwashers and ovens, use modular refrigeration drawers in addition to a standard refrigerator, and have separate clean-up and food-prep sinks. A large walk-in kitchen pantry is also often a must-have.
Top: This stylized modern kitchen in a 4036-sq.-ft. Mid-Century Modern home with 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths is large enough for multiple cooks. The main island has a butcher-block countertop and sink. The island in the foreground is a dedicated eating spot – a "permanent table" (Plan #202-1001). Bottom: Looking out on the open-plan Great Room, this kitchen has two working islands. The green island contains two ovens and prep space on the countertop; the other island contains a sink and the dishwasher, as well as base cabinets for storage and an eating bar for quick meals. Just visible on the right is the end of the main kitchen wall, which contains a long run of base cabinets with granite countertop, stainless-steel gas cooktop with large vent hood, upper cabinets with solid and glass doors for display, stainless-steel refrigerator, and built-in stainless-steel microwave oven (Plan 106-1295).
4. Cars and More Cars
Large garages with at least three bays are becoming more common – even standard – in homes 4000 square feet and up. At least one bay may have a oversize or RV-size door, and it’s not unusual to find oversize 9-foot-tall doors on all the bays. Large garages accommodate more cars, of course, which goes hand on hand with larger families living in the house. But they also proved extra space for workshops, storage, and housing garden equipment if a shed is not possible or desired. A larger garage also just complements the larger structure of the house than a 1- or 2-car garage.
Top: This 4083-sq.-ft. Rustic style home (top) with echoes of Arts & Crafts and Craftsman styles belies its grand stature from the curb. Bottom: Out back is wide courtyard that accommodates the 3-car garage. The bay on the end has an unusual setup: adjacent end walls have garage doors allowing access to the garage from two different directions (Plan #101-1874).
5. Always Room for One More
It’s a luxury that homes of this size can usually afford: a permanent room that’s available for guest sleepovers – no more evacuating Johnny or Sue from his or her room when an uncle or aunt or a family friend needs to stay overnight or for the weekend. The guest room often has an ensuite bathroom or directly shares a hall bathroom through its own door.
This guest bedroom in a 4412-sq.-ft. luxurious Rustic Mountain home has direct access to a full bathroom, making it a mini-suite for periodic visits from family and friends (Plan #202-1017).
6. Two or More Master Suites
It’s not unusual for huges houses to have more than one master suite (large bedroom with ensuite bathroom and often an extra sitting or relaxing area – or access to a private deck or balcony) – one primary and one or more secondary, which may or may not be smaller. Often but not always the owners’ (primary) suite will be on the main level and the other(s) will be upper and/or lower level. This kind of setup is good for multigenerational households where there’s no in-law suite in the floor plan.
This exquisite 4304-sq.-ft. Rustic style home is a great example of a house with multiple suites. The main level has the large master suite with his and her walk-in closets and its own entrance to the rear covered deck. The lower walkout level has additional bedroom suites, with a guest room that shares the bathroom with suite 2 for occasional visitors (Plan #180-1020).
7. Grand-Scale Indoor-Outdoor Living
Outdoor living areas are great for extending the perceived square footage of a home, and although large houses like these certainly don’t need “virtual” square footage, the fact is that they are often situated on larger parcels of land and make use of that space with extensive decks and/or patios. The patio may surround a pool or incorporate an outdoor kitchen with entertaining space, and the deck may meander off the back of house in multilevel fashion, incorporating a roof-covered outdoor kitchen and sitting/dining area, as well as various conversation or entertainment sections.
Outdoor living areas are typically an integral part of the luxury home experience. This Great Room in a stylized Craftsman/Arts & Crafts home delivers that experience in spades as the wall of sliding glass doors (top) opens onto the covered rear patio (bottom), blurring the lines between indoor and outdoor living space (Plan #101-1874).
8. It's All in the (Interior and Exterior Trim) Details
Larger homes tend to be more expensive, and this leads naturally to more money spent on finishing materials and attention to detail. So on the outside you will see, depending on the architectural style, extensively trimmed-out windows with shutters; exposed, sometimes carved, rafter tails and outriggers; timber-framed gable ends; mixtures of decorative siding materials; stone and brick accents; and more. On the inside expect wainscoting, crown molding, lots of wood floors, built-in features like bookcases and entertainment units, bars, fireplaces with beautiful mantels, decorative coffered, tray, and other ceilings, and more.
This foyer in a 4100-sq.-ft., 4-bedroom, 3.5-bath Shingle/Craftsman style home displays a taste of the level of trim detail you might expect in a large luxury home: wainscoting, crown molding, wide window and door casings, substantial base trim, beautiful hardwood floors, and more (Plan #115-1465).
9. Ceilings That Soar
The trend in recent years in housing – even in modest-size houses – has been to go higher than the previous norm of 7.5 to 8 feet tall in ceiling height. High ceilings make the interior feel more voluminous, even in smaller house floor plans. But in large houses, high ceilings are de rigueur. Expect to find 10-foot-high or more ceilings, as well as vaulted, or cathedral, ceilings and two-story-tall rooms such as foyers and Great Rooms.
Vaulted ceilings – here a 2-story-tall cathedral ceiling in the Great Room of a 5-bedroom, 5.5-bed Rustic-type luxury home – are not uncommon in houses that are 4000 sq. ft. or larger. In a 2-story home, there may be a loft area or balcony with railiing or half wall that looks down on the open area (Plan #202-1017).
10. Luxurious Laundry
Roomy laundry rooms, with cabinetry, sinks, and space for sorting, folding, ironing, and hanging – and maybe even an integrated mudroom – are another welcome side effect of living in a luxury home of 4000 sq. ft. or more. The weekly or semi-weekly (in some large-family cases daily!) chosre becomes less of a chore when you have enviable surroundings in which to work. And a mudroom, even if it's not in the laundry area, is just a must-have when there's kids going in and out all day.
With plenty of space for doing laundry and cabinetry for storing way more than just washer and dryer supplies, this laundry room in a luxuriously large Contemporary style home shows what you can expect from the extra room available in a 4000+-sq.-ft. house (Plan #202-1001).
Large houses in the 4000-to-4500-square-foot range are not for everyone, to be sure, but if you have a large family, like to entertain friends and family, or just have the wherewithal to spoil yourself, one of these home may be just the ticket for you.