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Get Your House Right: Architectural Elements to Use & Avoid Paperback – August 2, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Get Your House Right:

“[A]n important and much needed book.”--Sarah Susanka, FAIA, architect and author of The Not So Big series and Home by Design

“Marianne Cusato translates architectural language into the vernacular and, by doing so, into the reach of the average consumer, where such knowledge is guaranteed to do the most good….this 'Rosetta stone' of design will guarantee Cusato a place in the history of twenty-first century American architecture.”-- The Philadelphia Inquirer

“[Cusato] provides a vision of how we live together and build on our planet, and points out the consequences of flawed building practices not only to our environment, but to our spirit and our soul.”--Michael Lykoudis, Dean, University of Notre Dame School of Architecture

About the Author

Marianne Cusato has received international attention for her design of the Katrina Cottages: affordable, durable home kits created as an alternative to FEMA trailer housing to help the Gulf Coast rebuild. The cottage won the Cooper-Hewitt People's Design Award and has been written up in magazines and newspapers across the country, from Architectural Record and Cottage Living to Time and Forbes. She is the principal of Cusato Cottages, LLC, a New York-based firm specializing in traditional architectural design.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling; Reprint edition (August 2, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402791038
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402791031
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 8.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Marianne Cusato is a designer, author and lecturer in the fields of real estate trends and housing. Her messages speak to the ever-changing needs of homeowners striving to balance the practical requirements of economy and durability with the desire to love where we live.

Cusato is the author of two books: The Just Right Home: Buying, Renting, Moving...or Just Dreaming--Finding Your Perfect Match! (April 2013, Workman Publishing) and Get Your House Right, Architectural Elements to Use and Avoid, with Ben Pentreath, Richard Sammons and Leon Krier, foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales (January 2008, Sterling Publishing).

She is currently developing a new series of designs with Clayton Homes, a Warren Buffett/Berkshire Hathaway company. She's been a visiting professor at both The University of Notre Dame and The University of Miami and is a blogger for Huffington Post.

Cusato is well-known for her work on the Katrina Cottages. In 2006, her 308 s.f. cottage design won the Smithsonian Institute's Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum's "People's Design Award." That same year, Congress appropriated $400 million for an alternative emergency housing program, based on Cusato's designs. In 2006, she was ranked the No. 4 most influential person in the home building industry by Builder Magazine. In 2012, Cusato was voted one of the 30 Most Influential Women in the Housing Economy by HousingWire Magazine.

She and her work are featured often in the media including The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, Associated Press, Reuters, Forbes, Time magazine, The Week, InStyle Home, Fitness Magazine, Builder magazine, Architectural Record, ABC News, CNN, CNBC and NPR.

Cusato is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture and is based in Miami, FL.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I live in Naperville, IL, the McMansion capital of the Midwest. I have watched new multi-million dollar houses go up, and I thought most of them were just plain ugly. Over-done, or pompous, or something. Yet they sell, even now, and they keep going up.

I started to think maybe it was just me.

Then I picked up this book, and there, just above the AVOID label that adorns many of the design examples in the book, was a pencil sketch of what could be a typical new-construction Naperville street.

Having read the book through -- and several parts twice -- I now understand what it was that was causing the rejection of this architecture by my inner voice: bad design. I have nailed down the specific elements in many actual houses that hurt the appearance of the house, that make it less -- much less -- than it could be.

And -- surprise! -- I found that the few houses I did like of the newer construction were properly designed to classical principles.

The book is an incredible achievement. Well-written, accessible, and with hundreds and hundreds of beautiful pencil sketches that clearly demonstrate the principles. Marianne Cusato is a young, brilliant and well-educated designer whose vision has been shaking the architecture world for several years. And she's all of 33 years old!

So get this book, read it through, and then have some fun. Start scanning front elevation drawings on house plan sites and see if you can spot the issues that keep each from being as welcoming, as home-y, as they could be.

We are embarking now on designing our own new home, and this book is by far the most important acquisition in our burgeoning design library.

Thanks, Marianne. We all owe you.
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Format: Hardcover
In the late 1930's, many of Germany's finest architects arrived in the United States fleeing from Hitler's persecution. Soon Architecture Programs throughout the country adopted their modernist agenda. For the last seventy years, modernism has been the dominant language of architecture school. With a few notable exceptions, the visual language of traditional and classical architecture has all but dissapeared from the halls of academia.

Modernism was embraced by America's cultural and business elites. However, most Americans have never bought into the modernist agenda. When it comes to homes, most new home buyers want houses built in traditional styles. Unfortunately, there has been a disconnect between what architects have been taught to design and what consumers wish to purchase. One need only drive through the streets of most American suburbs to see the numerous failed and often times grotesque attempts at traditional architecture.

Into this skills void steps Marianne Cusato. She is a product of Notre Dame's School Architecture, a program known for embracing traditional and classical architecture. "Get Your House Right" is a comprehensive guide to the architectural language of classicism. Through the use of nearly a thousand beautifully rendered pencil sketches, she shows both poorly and properly executed architectural details. In this relatively short book, Cusato tries to show other architects what they missed in their architectural studies.

I am not an architect. My hobby is looking at old houses. The value of this book is that it helps me understand why some houses work while others houses fail.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have been absorbed by this book since my copy arrived. The organization is simple and easily accessible. Start in the beginning, middle or end, wherever you like. No problem reading two pages and putting it down until later.

The thing that makes this book exceptional are the illustrations. Thousands of the clearest sketches ever contained in a book, all expertly dovetailed with the text.

While this would have been my most cherished text in architecture school, it really excels for the practicing professional. Extremely practical. It shows how to design and build essential traditional house details like dormers, window and door trims, roofs, home entries, porches, chimneys, garage doors, bay windows, arches and more.
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Format: Paperback
This is an easy book to understand. If you are looking to emulate a style pre-1900 (e.g. Greek Revival), it is perfect. It describes in great detail, not only the right way, but also the wrong. I can't complain. The rub is what the author considers architecture and not. The forward describes the "scourge" of modern architecture. Some of the best architecture out there is modern, although there is a lot of bad modern style. A book like this wouldn't work for modern, but there is 80 years or so between the end of the author's view of high architecture and the "scourge" of modern and it is severly lacking. Arts & Crafts, Craftsman, Bungalow, Prairie, etc. are all styles that have rules that need to be followed and quite honesty, I am shocked there is not one page mentioning them. The book keeps mentioning the need for vertical lines (important to styles pre-1840 or so) and specificall noting to avoid horizontal lines (the most important factor for Prairie). Bottom line: if you want a traditional style, this is a great book. If you want a style post-Queen Anne, not only is this book not helpful, it would actually discourage it.
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