Britain, unlike the USA or most of Europe, uses the number of bedrooms, to define the size of a home. So a 4-bedroom house appears a better proposition than a 3-bedroom one.

But more bedrooms does not mean roomier. The Edwardians built 3-bedroom flats at 120 sq m while today there are some 4-bedroom houses built at 100 sq m. Dimensions have always gone up and down as the housing market shifts power between buyer and seller. Think of those high ceilings in 1930s semis and the galley kitchens of 1980s flats.

In the early 1960s government tried to map how big each room should be to fit in the furniture associated with it. For example, a bedroom shared by a couple should comfortably accommodate a full-size double bed (minimum 4ft 6in), as well as enough storage for two people’s clothing. The resulting Parker Morris report proposed minimum dimensions for each room and a figure for storage according to how many people lived in a home. Sadly Parker Morris never imagined dishwashers and fridge freezers, home computing and DVDs so his standards are outmoded.

But the principle of allocating space to each person’s needs for seating, sleeping and storage is a sound one. We have updated it with the interactive graph below to give you a rule-of-thumb indication for assessing how comfortable or cramped the home you are looking at could be. There is more on the different needs of children and adults, as well as the efficiency of different layouts throughout this website. But try the graph as a starting point.


Roll your mouse to the point on the chart that corresponds to the size of the property being considered and the size of household to live there. If you can’t see the graph below, download the latest Flash Player here.

© Gentoo Group Ltd 2006
Designed by Touch Creative  Built and hosted by Carbide-finger