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964 Sq. Ft. Modern Small Home for Family of Four

Don’t be fooled by the sleekness of the outside because the inside of this modern small home is full of light.

Like a stack of modern lego blocks this small house looks very boxy yet when you go inside all the rooms are very open, bright with plenty of windows and overall just spacious.

It was designed this way so when the entire family is in the house they could all easily spend time together. The living room is the main space and every other room besides the bathroom open up to the living area.

There are many small gardens or terraces that bring in natural light and give the small children extra space to play outside which I like. Also- I’m curious- do you consider a family of four living in 964 square feet ‘living small’?

Family with 2 Kids Living In 964 Sq. Ft. Modern Small Home


Images © Iwan Baan and Ken’ichi Suzuki

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Images © Iwan Baan and Ken’ichi Suzuki

Are you a big fan of this type of living? Do you consider this to be living small?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments below if you want.


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Andrea is a contributor for TinyHouseTalk.com and the Tiny House Newsletter! She has a passion for sharing tiny and small house stories and introducing you to new people, ideas, and homes.
{ 42 comments… add one }
  • Danielle
    July 23, 2014, 1:36 am

    My family of 5 (was 6, but my oldest has her own apartment now) and 1 dog live in a 3 bed, 1 bath house of 864 sq ft. In fact, our entire cul de sac is built to similar specs sometime in the fifties, all rectangular 1 floor ranch houses. All have had some updating at some point, some have put on decks, finished a basement or added a garage, but no additions. So this seems quite spacious to me! If it were financially feasible I would finish the basement into a family room with a half bath! Then it would be perfect!

  • Don Bursell
    July 23, 2014, 11:46 am

    First, I applaud any family of 4 that chooses to live in less than 1000 square feet. That is quite a commitment to tight “familyness”. Also, in comparison to what many families of 4 live in (in the United States), this most definitely is considered small by my standards.

    I agree with some comments above, that it isn’t the most efficient way to build, however, by jogging the boxes off to the sides, it gives the house some uniqueness that a square box usually lacks.

    I really like this house, though it’s not the design I would choose. It comes across as very “clinical” and almost “too clean”. More like a model home. A little artwork, and some carefully chosen paint schemes, and it could be very intriguing.

    • Alex
      July 23, 2014, 1:32 pm

      Thanks Don you make great points!

    • Paul
      July 23, 2014, 11:09 pm

      Form follows function…(or more correctly, it always should) and building simple rectangular boxes does not necessarily provide the necessary forms/shapes for creating viewing platforms, privacy areas etc. Would Falling Water look great as a rectangular box? Of course not.

      BTW, notice the diagonal stripes on the windows… that people is a special privacy coating that when viewing from the outside in makes it hard to actually see inside the property itself.

  • Gene Lueg
    July 23, 2014, 11:47 am

    Considering the lot size I think it is a brilliant design. It even allows a small amount of outdoor space at the street level. Pure genius in my opinion. But I do wonder if modern electronic design programs make this easier to do than pencil on paper.

  • Mike
    July 23, 2014, 1:35 pm

    Tiny is arelative term. This appears to be in Japan and in that culture this may only be slightly crowded. In the US, might be a recipe for mass mass murder.

    Other comments have addressed the relatively inefficient use of reduces due to the exterior form … That and the interior finishes would make it a very expensive build.

  • Angela
    July 23, 2014, 2:02 pm

    Using adjectives like small is always relative. My family (4 of us, plus dog) have been researching what version of Tiny or small will work for us. We’ve lived in 500 sq ft. It felt small after the 1200 sq ft house we owned. But now we’re looking at building something smaller… which is changing our definition of small. Still… I hope our Tiny House will meet all of our needs and that the adjective of small is not the first one that jumps into our minds when we describe where we live.

  • Princess Mom
    July 23, 2014, 2:47 pm

    It’s very attractive, but I have to wonder at all the bedrooms not just opening onto the living space, but being completely open to it. I certainly hope the kids aren’t light sleepers. And what about some privacy for Mom and Dad?

    • Sally
      July 23, 2014, 10:27 pm

      Definitely awkward. “You kids put your earphones on, Dad and I are sneaking off to the bedroom for some bonding…”
      And what about those apartment neighbors, it has to look like Grand Central around there 24/7 with the lighting pouring in. Did anyone see blinds? It reminds me of an experiment, not a place to actually live.

  • Donna
    July 23, 2014, 4:55 pm

    I like the design of the home,but would want more privacy where the bedrooms are located. I can not see a family of four living without a little privacy especially there. Does everyone dress I the bathroom? My family of three lived in a 910 sq. foot single wide,now family of two, for about 20 years before our son married and moved away with his bride. Though I would enjoy the thought of having a little extra room, ours is paid for and do not intend going anywhere unless I win the lottery! But the size is fine with me!

  • Irene
    July 23, 2014, 5:18 pm

    Only one word: awful
    If I had the money to buy this house : I would sale right away.
    Really ridiculous

    • Paul
      July 23, 2014, 10:59 pm

      If you would sell right away, the question is, why would you buy it in the first place? You say it’s awfuly. I disagree… and that’s fine, it’d be a pretty boring world if we all liked the same things eh?

  • Beth Bartniczak
    July 23, 2014, 7:21 pm

    Beautifully artistic, although too modern for my taste. Love the open spaces but maybe not so practical in a small home design. I also personally would want more privacy so more bedroom dividing walls but could be privacy and light friendly with clerestory windows. I personally do not think this is too small for a family of 4. It depends on priorities, but if people are reading this site they probably don’t want “McMansions” anyway. We lived for 30 years in a 1930’s art deco cape cod with less than 1000 sq. ft. and did fine. We were always the place where all the kids gathered, had sleepover, parties, etc., and managed just fine. BTW, most of my son’s friends came from much larger homes but preferred to gather at ours because they could relax, kick back and not worry if they brought a drink or chips out of the kitchen (hardwood and ceramic tile throughout). That said, our home was filled with antique furniture, lace and depression glass which we used on a daily basis. We have now downsized and while not as small as most of your micro and tiny houses, we are well below 800 sq. ft., and I’m getting some wonderful ideas on remodeling, saving space, and storage from your site. Maybe our next house (if there is one) will be a tiny house off the grid. Who knows. It would be nice. While not off the grid yet, we believe in reusing, recycling, and leaving the smallest ecological footprint possible. Good luck in your endeavors. Thank you for a great source of ideas.

  • Rue
    July 23, 2014, 8:27 pm

    Although it’s not space-efficient, I gotta say I like the nooks and crannies created by the offset boxes.

    The first thought I had when looking at the pics, though, was that small kids and toddlers would walk/climb/squirm right through those artsy minimalist railings and fall out of their top-level rooms. One wonders if the architect who designed this for family living had any children of his own.

    • Angela Wong
      October 7, 2015, 10:05 pm

      As a mom with a two and three year old, that is the only thing I can think of when looking at this house!! Oh my. The stairs being so open, the rails (which I assume maybe have glass or something, but I can’t see for sure)…especially on the play balcony. BALCONY. Aye. I’m gonna have nightmares about it tonight, I’m sure!

  • Jeremy
    August 27, 2014, 12:14 pm

    I’m really not sure how people can call this design “inefficient”. If anything, this type of design contains the type of ingenuity i’d like to see more of in small spaces. I’m not surprised that this was designed by a Japanese firm, as they are pretty much the masters of living efficiently in small spaces in crowded cities.

    By using a multi-level sectional box design, the architect has managed to create a design that’s completely open, light, and airy, therefore giving the impression of a much bigger space, while at the same time creating well defined spaces, giving the impression of more personal space and privacy.

    Just have a look at what is incorporated in this design: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a large kitchen and dining area, large living room, 2 gardens, and 3 (3!!) terraces – all in under 1000 sq ft. I really have no idea how you’re going to do more than what has been acomplished with this space already.

    It’s a beautiful house, and a family could actually be comfortable living there.

  • wes
    September 15, 2014, 10:59 pm

    I love the modern look and feel. My uncle is an architect and this reminds me of his house. It’s very airy and the design is more about creating a certain feel than maximizing square footage. Some people would prefer a cabin in the woods, but I think there is a place for small houses for people who aren’t afraid of embracing their city.

  • Gori
    September 20, 2014, 12:27 am

    What a flippin’ nightmare of a living space. Earnestly self-congratulatory modern architects with compliant clients, or probably built as one of the designer’s show pieces. No consideration of even minor mobility issues of anyone at any age — better stay off those Japanese artificial ski slopes. And be prepared to watch any toddler or young adventurer like a hawk! This place has all the charm of a jungle gym. Grandma & grandpa are also not on the scene, so no Mommy & Daddy weekend getaways that promote intergenerational bonding (also known as free babysitting) in this building whose purpose is to encourage lots of quality family togetherness!

    • Alex
      September 20, 2014, 10:39 am

      Jungle gym!! 😀

  • Alida Chacon​​
    September 21, 2014, 12:37 am

    I really like this design, but I would love it out in the woods. I wouldn’t live next to an apartment building again (unless I was living in am apartment). Privacy is a must have.

    • Alex
      September 21, 2014, 2:53 pm

      I agree- would be better in the woods! 🙂

  • Ruth
    September 21, 2014, 3:52 pm

    No thanks!

    I think the size is great but I’m VERY much NOT a fan of ‘modern’ styling in general. And all that white? No thank you again. Not to mention all that glass. I’m not all that interested in doing house cleaning more often than needed and that much white and glass will be a never ending chore! Plus I just don’t like white all that much. I’d rather have deeper, richer colors. But then you add in the amount of hallway/stairway space and the lack of any closed off rooms for privacy and I like it even less. Not my kind of space!

  • Cheeryble
    September 21, 2014, 9:32 pm

    May I ask what the roofs are made of?
    Love flat roofs but they have to be right….and many ain’t!

  • Denise
    September 22, 2014, 12:35 am

    The way the space is used in this house, it appears a lot more than 964 sq. ft. I love all the balconies and lookouts, but I sure hope there was glass on that balcony railing behind that little boy with his dad to keep him and other children safe from falling. I love the light and windows; it would be hard to be depressed living in a place like this. Some curtains hung at strategic locations can easily be pulled for more privacy.

  • Lonni Baird
    October 4, 2014, 12:00 am

    I’m on low income because of a dysability, but I really want to buy my own home. When I saw this house, my jaw dropped. It’s hard to believe that it is under 1,000 sq. feet! I love this house! There are only a few changes I’d make, but otherwise, it’s perfect. With the cost of houses/condos going up here in BC, I don’t know what I can find under $ 100,000. How much would it cost to have a house like this? Could I be pre-qualified to purchase one of these?

  • Linda
    November 21, 2014, 4:54 pm

    I don’t care for the industrial look of the outside of this home, but the inside is BEAUTIFUL! Love the clean and open look it has. I do not think this is too small a space for a family of 4, my family of 6, grandma, mom, dad, and 3 kids (18, 13, 11) 2 dogs and 2 drum sets along a piano along with various other musical instruments, all live comfortably in a 1000 sq ft home. It is not as beautiful as the home above, but we are much closer both physically and emotionally than the people we know who live in larger houses.

  • Evelline
    November 25, 2014, 12:05 pm

    Where are the bedrooms? This modern home is to cold for a family. And there are no blinds/curtains for privacy. This design is cool but not a family home type.

  • michael
    April 10, 2015, 2:30 pm

    Curious as to cost as shown. Also is it practical for a true four-season climate? I live in the Midwestern U.S.

  • Elle
    April 10, 2015, 2:47 pm

    Designed differently this would be tight for a family of 4. I agree the design is brilliant. The children virtually have the entire upstairs to themselves and everyone has their own private space and/or could easily find one given this design.

    I absolutely love the attention given to the ‘outdoor’ spaces (made so they’re ‘usable’) and the plentiful, large windows. The open rooftop-areas could also be enclosed or partially enclosed for use, so there’s even room to expand.

    This design would dwarf a conventional-design at twice the size of this 964 sq ft home. The outside is unique but not unpleasant and the inside is wicked-beautiful!

  • Bob P
    April 10, 2015, 3:44 pm

    Absolutely nothing unusual about a family of four living in a 964 sq ft home.

  • bob
    April 10, 2015, 4:08 pm

    Attractive house for a cool climate. Looks like there is no place to shower on the first floor. Would be nice if there were a full bath adjacent to the master bedroom.

  • Drew Williams
    April 11, 2015, 4:40 am

    Of the 191 pictures that I have on my iPad, this has been my favorite and although I have a lot of great ideas and designs it is still the house of my freams. If I ever win the lottery or come into money, this is the house I want. Complete as is, no change. It is beautiful just as is, it’s Art in design inside and out. The best I have seen so far. Anybody do financing? I am 50 and my spouse and I need a low maintenance and a our taste and likings are this very house! I have shared it with people. I see it is in Japan, it would cost a small fortune here in the states. But, I do love it

  • April 11, 2015, 10:01 am

    If you are thinking of downsizing to save money, don’t look at this one. I’ll bet it cost at least a million bucks. It is very spacious so the actual floor square footage is trumped by the volume.

    Problems: heating and cooling nightmare. Stairs, stairs, stairs. You’d better be a “cleanie” because everything you own is literally on display. Most importantly, privacy and noise are always problems in an open space and the reverb in this sterile environment has got to be incredible. You can probably hear a whisper throughout the entire house. Teenage daughter, there will be no secret midnight calls to the boyfriend going unnoticed by your parents. Also, think about trying to get to sleep when dad came home exhausted….think about the nightly snoring (or worse yet,FARTING)!!! “Come on, Dad! Cut it out!” “I just did! Ha ha ha!”

  • Susanne
    April 11, 2015, 10:14 am

    Interesting! I agree having buildings all around would be terrible… Odds are they can’t build anywhere with alittle bit of green land; land very expensive.

  • Jeremy
    October 7, 2015, 11:34 am

    Still one of the best designs ever posted.

  • Suzanne
    October 7, 2015, 2:07 pm

    This is such an incredibly beautiful use of space. I love the open air look and feel. I would buy this house in a heartbeat. I think that the issues of privacy raised by others are reflective of our society where individual space is paramount. This exclusiveness breeds distance in our families (You recently featured a family who downsized to get closer to their children). For most of human history we have cohabited in small spaces. The issues of “tiny” are also moot; this is so much better than a 4000 sq foot house. This is a gorgeous home.

  • gale
    October 7, 2015, 5:58 pm

    I really like this house. The openness gives the feeling of a lot more space. It’s unique and not for everyone but I could definitely live there. Now if I could wake up looking like a runway model every day;-)

  • kristina nadreau
    October 7, 2015, 6:51 pm

    I like this house. I like the decor (minimalistic) and the use of gardens. This is a lovely example of modern Japanese architecture. Folks, please keep in mind that the culture in urban Japan is greatly different than anywhere in the USA. This is an excellent use of space.

  • Angela Wong
    October 7, 2015, 10:16 pm

    To answer the question of whether 964 square feet is considered “small”…to the majority of the standard American families who build these days: they would say it’s TINY. I personally think it’s probably right-sized, on the side of small-ish but not too cramped. But a poorly designed 964 could feel tiny, while an efficiently designed 964 could feel giant. So I think it depends on the design largely. Personally? This design LOOKS big and spacious. But it does not seem efficient AT ALL. I am not sure where laundry is done and where it is stored, but I would hate to have to climb five flights of stairs multiple times a day to generally maintain the place. Not to mention a childcare nightmare. Maybe for an older family of four?

  • keepyourpower
    September 18, 2017, 6:57 pm

    I used to live in Japan. That small plot of land, that beautiful house is on, is probably $1,000,000. The house seems large, and beautiful, compared to some I have seen in Japan.

  • AVD
    September 18, 2017, 9:22 pm

    The industry does not seem able to make up their mind about the difference between SMALL and TINY. It is all a matter or perspective. My view is that a “small” house is anything between 600 and 1200 sq. ft. And a “tiny” house is anything between 100 and 599 sq. ft.

    Both small and tiny can serve the needs of many life situations and styles.

    I am sure dozens of people will claim that they can do just fine below 100 sq. ft.. And if they can make that size work for them and their specific needs, then more power to their effort.

    Logistically, there are optimal minimum “house” sizes for singles, pairs, 3-person families and 4-person families that the vast majority of tiny / small house advocates would find comfortable to live in for an extended period of time. But going below that minimum size for each of the four noted groups will quickly result in collapsing relationships, degrading physical health and even individual sanity.

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