How Big Is 500 Square Feet? 10 Real Homes Illustrate What It’s Like.

updated Oct 6, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image

How big is 500 square feet, actually? For Americans living in a smaller city, 500 square feet might feel teeny. To a New Yorker or a European in a big city, 500 square feet might feel palatial. How big 500 square feet might actually feel to live in can really depend on a number of factors, from the layout of the home’s rooms, to how much natural light a space gets, to even how high the ceilings are.

To help you visualize just how big (or small) 500 square feet can feel like, we’re sharing 10 real homes where the livable spaces all total 500 square feet. I’ve included a variety of home types — from lofts, to studio apartments, to houses — so you can see how architecture can play a huge role in the way a home size feels. You’ll see in all the homes below how the renters and homeowners were able to carve out cozy homes in just 500 square feet.

Whether you’re thinking about downsizing or upsizing, or you’re just curious, the 500-square-foot homes below should give you a good idea of what this size space looks and feels like to live in.

Credit: Courtesy of Olivia Burnett

1. This 500-Square-Foot Studio Apartment Is Sunny and Stunning

Olivia Burnett‘s rental apartment in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, is a studio apartment — no separate bedroom or kitchen — but you hardly notice the lack of walls, thanks to all the natural light that floods into her space. Huge windows, some floor-to-ceiling, let in tons of sunlight to illuminate every corner of the small space, which brightens and enlarges the feel of the studio. A cute little nook houses the bed to make it feel separate from the rest of the home’s areas, and a cute little porch gives her even more room to live in.

To see more of this 500-square-foot apartment, look through the full house tour.

Credit: Courtesy of Gina Quagliata

2. A 500-Square-Foot San Francisco Studio Apartment

Gina Quagliata’s 500-square-foot San Francisco studio apartment doesn’t have many walls, but the change in floor levels helps create the illusion of distinct areas in the small space. Stairs up into the entryway and kitchen area make those areas feel separate from the studio. What also helps this home feel less like just one room are all the nooks built into the architecture. The bold yellow sofa fits beautifully into a distinct architectural corner of the space, and the bed is able to be tucked into a corner as well. All these things together make it feel less like a studio apartment and more like a chic hotel suite.

To see more of this 500-square-foot studio apartment, see the full house tour.

Credit: Olivia Picolla
Credit: Olivia Picolla

3. This San Diego Rental’s Brimming with Historical Built-Ins

Olivia Picolla’s 500-square-foot San Diego, California, apartment proves that smart storage and built-in solutions can make living in a small home easy and beautiful. From shelves in the kitchen to ones around the other living areas, Olivia’s been able to fit a lot into her petite abode. And although the apartment only offers 500 square feet of living space, because it has a separate bedroom, the apartment feels much more robust than it is.

To see more of Olivia’s home, check out the house call.

The full picture.

4. A 537-Square-Foot Studio Apartment in Washington, DC

Eliza Edwards’ studio apartment in DC measures in at a little bigger than 500 square feet (37 more square feet, to be exact), but it is such an exemplary example of small-space living that I had to include it on this list. A large wall of shelves (not built-in, but cleverly camouflaged as such) wows in the living room, and a faux plant accent wall adds wonderful texture to the small space. A half wall creates a cozy space for her bedroom, and other nooks in the space help define distinct areas, too.

See more of this studio apartment in this Small/Cool contest entry.

5. A 523-Square-Foot Condo in Montreal Feels Much Larger

Tyler Rozicki’s 523-square-foot condo in Montreal is much larger feeling than the 523 square feet it offers, and that’s largely due to the living areas being spread over two levels. Although each level itself is compact, Tyler was able to carve out suitably distinct spaces with multi-use furniture, and an outdoor terrace expands the living area on the top level. All in all, this condo makes 500 square feet seem practically spacious.

To see more of this condo, see the Small/Cool contest entry.

Credit: Adrian Ye
Credit: Adrian Ye

6. A 500-Square-Foot Canadian Apartment

Adrian’s 500-square-foot apartment in Burnaby, Canada, used a novel element to create the illusion of more space: artificial lighting. Each area in the apartment features many different lighting sources — from floor lamps to table lamps placed on the floor — to elucidate different feelings. The result is a home that feels full, cozy, and well-lit.

To see more of Adrian’s home, visit their Small/Cool Contest entry.

Credit: Anna Gergely

7. A 516-Square-Foot Budapest, Hungary, Apartment

Anna Gergely’s 516-square-foot Budapest apartment employs the use of lots of light and minimal furnishings to make her space feel larger. But also a brilliant small-space solution helps divide the space without making it feel any smaller. A “window” between the living area and the bedroom area creates two distinct spaces to live in, while also letting lots of light from the bedroom’s windows flood into the living room. It’s an ingenious use of space.

See more of this apartment in the Small/Cool Contest entry.

Credit: Lauren Kolyn

8. A 500-Square-Foot Colorful Maximalist Condo in Toronto

Who says small spaces can’t be drenched in dramatic color? Chad Burton and Burger Kim didn’t let the compact size of their Toronto condo prevent them from creating a colorful, maximalist wonderland. Rich jewel tones coat the open living and dining area’s walls, while a deep blue couch complements. It’s a bold palette, but one that proves small spaces can be vibrant.

See more of this home in the house tour.

9. A 500-Square-Foot Studio in Hollywood

Willow Rothbart’s 500-square-foot studio apartment mixes industrial designs with a Scandinavian sensibility. Tall ceilings keep the space from feeling cramped, and huge French doors act to let lots of sunlight in. Although it’s a studio apartment, Rothbart was able to carve out distinct spaces in the loft-like home, and the result is a bright space and a beautiful home.

See all of this studio apartment in the full house tour.

10. A 500-Square-Foot London Flat

This small flat in London is impressive because there are actually two bedrooms within it! Tola Doll Fisher‘s home consists of two small bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, and an open-concept dining/living room, and it all fits within just 500 square feet. Although the rooms are on the cozier side, Fisher keeps the wall colors nice and neutral to maximize light and the feeling of spaciousness. And appropriately sized furnishings fit just right.

See all of this two-bedroom home in the full house tour.

Re-edited from a post originally published 1.1.17