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Small Spaces: Stylish Ideas for Making More of Less in the Home Paperback – September 15, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha USA; New edition edition (September 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 4770020848
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770020840
  • Product Dimensions: 10.9 x 9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,081,567 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Drawing upon the sparse tranquility of Japanese design, architect and Tokyo resident Azby Brown explains how to live comfortably in limited or overcrowded domains. By rethinking our approach to space, utilizing seemingly dead areas (under-floor or under-stairs storage, for example), creating multipurpose or convertible areas, and reconsidering layout, we can make the most of what we have. Some of these homes carry Eastern minimalism to an extreme that clutter-prone Westerners may not be comfortable with, but there are plenty of ingenious furniture, storage, and planning solutions nevertheless. --Amy Handy

From Library Journal

The Japanese have the ability to live in small spaces yet make them appear roomy and tranquil. Brown, a New Orleans native and Ph.D. candidate in architecture who has lived in Japan for more than a decade, examines their homes and lifestyles to find ideas that can be adapted to Western homes. This book is geared to the professional, although amateurs will find useful ideas such as closets with shelves in the doors, under-the-floor storage, and even a bed that retracts into the ceiling. For space-saving ideas in traditional Western styles, Anoop Parikh's Making the Most of Small Spaces (Rizzoli, 1994) will be more useful, but this book should find a place in professional and urban-area libraries.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By V. Landau on January 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
As someone whose prospective first house is likely to be small--and even smaller inside--I've been looking around for useful ideas that will help me choose a home into which my Stuff will fit. (That's not just stuff; that's George Carlin-type STUFF, and it requires serious storage.) We're not just talking a smaller McMansion, but homes where the master bedroom is, on average, 10'x9' with badly placed doorways.
Azby Brown's book was an education in understanding the options even a small or oddly shaped space can afford. Though most of the actual implementations discussed would certainly work better in a Japanese home than in a '50s era raised ranch, the *ideas* are the thing. And these ideas are outstanding. Every inch of space is used to beautiful effect. Every opportunity is considered.
Especially choose this book if you're planning to remodel, as expert contractors and cabinetmakers will benefit from these pages; nevertheless, _Small Spaces_ is for anyone who still thinks that light neutrals and pint-sized furnishings are the only way to manage.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Li Xiuqi on October 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
The title is a bit too vague-- this book is specifically on *Japanese* methods of minimizing clutter, which may or may not be useful to westerners. But what a fascinating topic it is. Only the Japanese could have thought of storing things below the floor, futons that can be rolled up and put away when they aren't in use, "borrowing the view" of your neighbour's garden, and so on. The photography isn't dazzling, and many of the homes aren't very stylish, but it's worth reading just to appreciate the ingenious ideas the Japanese have.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 26, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Azby Brown lives in Japan, and has written a number of books about Japanese design, or carpentry, from the perspective of a close observer.
This book deals with design and product approaches to living in small spaces without clutter. The premise is that the smaller a space is, the more it needs to appear empty if living in it is to be fully comfortable and satisfying. This isn't a book on how to load more gear into more "storage solutions", though some unusual solutions like underfloor storage are elaborated.
Granted a lot of this stuff is not going to be transferable to American houses, and some of the details, like miraculously small appliances are not even well illustrated (most ilustration are very good). But then there is a huge market for books covering professionally created 25 000 square foot spaces in Carmel by the Sea, or whatever, and I am not likely to fully implement ideas from those books either. Frankly adapting the spirit of this book is much more likely
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By "watanne" on June 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Overall, Brown does a good job, but he should've titled it, "Modern Japanese Small Spaces," as much of the text explains present day Japanese layout and architecture as an evolution of previous tradition and history. As an example, there's a chapter titled, "Japanese Housing: Past, Present and Future," something the title would have never suggested. More than simply a pretty picture book to put on your coffee table because it truly has well thought out text, the book falls short of being a *true* rehab book, with its lack of a planning section, grid page or index of products, commonly found in the DK books from the UK. In the end, the photography is quite good, and some of the ideas are very stunning in execution.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Beatrice Izzey VINE VOICE on April 9, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The title should be "build built-in furniture to get rid of your space problems."

I think the ideas are worth considering: sure, if you have chairs for desks and vanities that slide right in, you can save a lot of space. Yes, build little drawers out of the stair case, and nifty pull out cabinets everywhere. Certainly having less furniture and more built -ins is the best way to reduce clutter. Yes, build underground "closets" in your floorboards and crawl space.

However, for most young people and for renters, the solutions are not practical because of lack of investment capital or long term plan for a space. Hiring carpenters to construct these designs would be of prohibitive cost for most, except for the wealthy.

I see from this book that Schindler and Neutra and all the modernists got lots of their ideas from the Japanese built-in solution.
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24 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 6, 1999
Format: Paperback
With all due respect to the minimalist Japanese way of life, this book is completely inappropriate for a small apartment dweller. I found almost no useful suggestions on how to maximize the use of space in small living quarters. This is not an interior design book, but rather is more of a "construction/rehab" book, because most solutions offered require major rehabbing of an existing space in order to accomplish anything close to the desired design. Overall, a pretty lame choice for interior design of small living spaces.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Scott Knudsen on December 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Great book on how to store, and organize stuff like only the Japanese can do. For us North American's, applying these principles may be impossible because of the way our culture has brought us up. Still there are lots of great ideas, and it is quite interesting to what can be done with limited space with a little imagination.
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