Sarah Susanka has a not-so-insignificant idea in Creating the Not So Big House
. She contrasts the glamorous, glossy-photo house plans of vaulted ceilings and palatial living rooms with the livable, day-to-day pleasure of cozy window seats and comfortable breakfast nooks, and her conclusion is resonating with families across the country: bigger but shoddier isn't better than smaller and well made. Descriptors like "spacious" and "expansive" fill the real-estate promos, but Susanka seeks the elusive yet affordable qualities that turn a house into a home. And she provides more than mere ideals around which to rally. She selected 25 house designs, from a southwestern adobe to a Minnesota farmhouse to a New York apartment to a Rhode Island summer cottage, and she profiles each home in great and well-illustrated detail.
Her ideas for interior as well as exterior views, airy stairways, diagonal views, and framed openings translate well in an array of different houses appropriate to childless couples and large families, as well as hot climes in Texas and cooler regions in Vermont. There are traditional designs to fit in with Massachusetts styling and contemporary designs to adapt to California cliffs, and they range from country spaces to suburban homes to city apartments.
Susanka selected house plans that are available for sale, because her purpose is to make affordable quality housing accessible to the general public, but they're also presented as catalysts for your own designs, because the house that worked for one person might inspire the plan that would work best for you. Whether you're in the market for a new house, want pragmatic renovation ideas, or are interested in the concept of space-saving abodes from a city-planning, philosophical perspective, Susanka's book is an eye-opener and a mind-expander, providing conceptual and practical tools to assist you in planning your own livable home. --Stephanie Gold
From Library Journal
Susanka's very successful The Not-So-Big House (LJ 9/15/98) nimbly capitalized on the 1990s small-is-beautiful wave that touted voluntary simplicity, downsizing, and contentment with one's lot in life (especially if that lot includes an average, middle-class house in the suburbs). This follow-up features 25 new and redesigned homes thought to embody "not-so-big" principles such as shelter around activity, double-duty rooms, interior and diagonal views, variety of ceiling heights, importance of personal space, and so on. The book's design allows readers to flip through looking for ideas about trendy house typesDPueblo-style, the old farmhouse, Shaker cottage, shingle-style, Fifties retro. Simple house plans and carefully constructed photos of well-appointed space abound. The writing is unchallenging, nontechnical, sunny, even cozy. Couples and architects are referred to by given names (Barry and Susan, Sally and Gary), and each episode follows a rather numbing, prosaic patternDunhappiness with present quarters, lifestyle examination, and problem-solving (unfortunately without expenses listed), concluding with "not-so-big" bliss. While the first book is not required prior reading, this is best recommended for libraries where the first book proved popular.DRussell T. Clement, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.