The Definition of a Bedroom: An Illustrated Guide

closet or bedroom?

If you’re searching for an apartment on a tight budget, you’ll encounter your fair share of walk-in closets and windowless hallways espousing themselves to be bedrooms. But hey, you’re looking on the cheap, right? You’ll take what you can get.

Not so fast.

While your stoic acceptance of the harsh realities of New York City renting earns you brownie points, don’t let your budget get the best of you. Before signing a lease on a super great deal, but sort of sketchy apartment, you should know what really counts as a bedroom. Here are the basic defining features of a bedroom – all drawn out for you so you can save your brain energy for finding a decent apartment.

Ceiling Height

Ceilings must be at least eight feet high.

definition of a bedroom ceiling height

bedrooms eight feet high ceilings

If the bedroom happens to be in the basement (ouch), then the ceiling height must measure at least 7 feet. If the bedroom has a sloped ceiling over all or part of the room, at least two-thirds of the room needs to be at least 7 feet.

Square Footage

Bedrooms must measure at least 80 square feet and no side can measure less than 8 feet.

Bedroom dimension

That means a room must measure at least eight feet in width by eight feet in length by eight feet in height. The rules change if your apartment has three bedrooms or more.  In that case, bedrooms must measure at least seven feet by seven feet by seven feet.

Bedroom dimension


window requirements bedroom

Bedrooms must have a window… That doesn’t face a brick wall.

bedrooms must have a window



The window must open onto a street or… a backyard, or a garden or court.

bedroom window requirements



Exits and Egresses

Bedrooms must have two means of exits.

means of exit bedroom

At least one window and one door. You must be able to open the door without keys or special tools (i.e., no fire doors, gated doors etc).

doors and windows bedroom

Railroad Apartments

A bedroom cannot serve as a hallway to another room.

hallway bedroom

That would be a railroad apartment.

hallway bedroom

Two more tips to remember.

  1. If a “bedroom” is also being used as kitchen, foyer, bathroom, half bath, powder room, dining room, dinette, dining bay, hall, corridor, or passageway, etc, it is NOT a bedroom.
  2. If you need to pass through “the bedroom” to reach other parts of the apartment, it is NOT a bedroom.