How much square footage do you actually need?

Image Source:  1

Image Source: 1

I recently downsized from a 1,000 square foot apartment to one a little shy of 800 square feet. I had to purge some of my larger furniture and donated everything that I didn't think I absolutely needed. Going into it, I thought 800 square feet was small, but for my boyfriend and I this is actually ample space. We have enough room for a small bedroom, office, bathroom, kitchen, dining room and living room. What else could I possibility need?  

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It seems that my downsizing is against the trend of American families. I took a look at the Census and discovered that the median square footage of single family homes has increased 56.3% from 1973 to 2013. The housing bubble and burst in 2008 did cause a slight decline in home size, but the effect was only temporary. 2013 showed a record 2,384 square feet. 

And how are we using all that added square footage? The answer might surprise you. Even though the average family size is dwindling, we're designing and building our homes to include great rooms, four-car garages, man caves, walk-in closets, double master bedrooms, and guest suites. It seems the basic home of today would have been considered a mansion by the standards of any previous generation.

You can see the full pdf dating back to the 70's here >> Download PDF.

These statistics got me thinking, how much square footage do you actually need? Different sources float around different rules of thumb. Apartment Therapy often says that 200 square feet per person is needed. This seems a bit small to me, I would want at least 350 square feet per person. 

How do you use your square footage in your home? Are you the type of person that has a large 2,000+ square feet house, but only really uses the kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom? What are you doing with the rest of the rooms?