Visualizing Square Footage

When a home listing tells you the square footage of a property, are you able to imagine what it will look and feel like?  Visualizing a number of square feet as a room or a house can be tricky! Let’s dive into some reference points that may help. 

What is a square foot? 

First, let’s get clear on what a square foot is. One square foot is a square that’s 12 inches on each side. 

In any given space, you can multiply the length by the width to get the total square footage. For example, a closet that’s 4 feet long and 3 feet wide is 12 square feet. 

Of course, a space that’s not square-shaped or rectangular gets more difficult to measure. It’s handy that most homes are square or rectangular and most rooms and overall floorplans can be seen as a series of rectangles. 

Say the main part of a room is ten feet by twelve feet (120 square feet), and there’s a nook that’s eight by eight (64 square feet). The room’s total is 120+64=184 square feet. 

Common visualizations

It’s helpful to have reference points as a place to start imaging square footage. Here are some common objects and places with their rough square footage. 

A king-sized bed is 42 square feet. 

A school bus is usually between 245 and 300 square feet. 

A two-car garage is 400 square feet. 

A tennis court is 2,800 square feet. 

A basketball court is 4,700 square feet.

An Olympic swimming pool is 13,500 square feet.  

A hockey rink is 17,000 square feet. 

A football field is 57,000 square feet. 

So, if a home is 1,000 square feet, you can imagine two and a half two-car garages. If it’s 2,500 square feet, you can imagine a little less than half of a basketball court. 

Get used to thinking in square feet 

It’s a great idea to know the square footage of the place where you currently live and of a few other homes where you spend time. Then you can compare mentally … this listing is 1,200 square feet, so it’s a little bigger than my condo and about half the size of my mom’s house

A trick some people use to start thinking in square feet is counting ceiling or floor tiles of spaces they visit since tiles are often about a foot long. 

Some people like to learn the length of their own footstep, then use that to imagine square footage. 

When thinking about smaller square footage, it’s fun to look at home tours like those on Apartment Therapy to see similar spaces and how other people have set them up. 


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