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The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live Hardcover – 1998
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When describing a favorite room in the house, do you find yourself using terms such as "expansive," "formal," and "spacious"--a marble foyer or a formal dining room perhaps? Or do the words "cozy," "intimate," and "warm" come to mind--a cheery little breakfast nook or a window seat complete with plenty of pillows and a breathtaking view? More than likely, you--like thousands of other homeowners--are drawn to the more personal spaces in your home, where comfort, beauty, and efficiency meet. In The Not So Big House, respected architect Sarah Susanka and coauthor Kira Obolensky address our affinity for the "smaller, more personal spaces" and propose "clear, workable guidelines for creating homes that serve both our spiritual needs and our material requirements." The heart of the not-so-big house--which is not "just a small house ... [but] a smaller house," that uses "less space to give greater quality of life," and is designed to not only "accommodate the lifestyles of its occupants" but also to express "our values and our personalities," is discussed in chapter 1, entitled "Bigger Isn't Better." Susanka's urging for homeowners to get creative with their space as well as loads of ideas to encourage that creativity are covered in "Rethinking the House" and "Making Not So Big Work." Discussions of specific needs, such as a home for one and designing for kids, can be found in "Lifestyles of the Not So Rich and Famous," while "Dreams, Details, and Dollars" gets down to the nuts and bolts of the operation, looking at quality versus quantity, budgeting, and what "low end," "middle ground," and "high end" really mean in home design and construction. Lastly, the authors look at the home of the future, which involves simplifying, recycling, reducing waste, and using energy-efficient construction. With more than 200 color photographs, as well as floor plans and Susanka and Obolensky's intelligent and lively dialogue, The Not So Big House is perfect for homeowners ready to rethink their space. --Stefanie Hargreaves
From Library Journal
Architect Susanka believes that the large homes being built today place too much emphasis on square footage rather than on current lifestyles. Here she shows how homes can be designed to feature "adaptable spaces open to one another, designed for everyday use." She describes how to examine occupants' lifestyles, how to incorporate the kitchen as the focal point of the home, how to give the illusion of space, and how, with storage, lighting, and furniture arrangement, a smaller home can be comfortably livable. Photographs of contemporary homes as well as those by Frank Lloyd Wright and other modern architects illustrate Susanka's ideas and show the timelessness of the style she advocates. This thought-provoking book will be a good addition to architectural and interior design collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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This book has been criticised for concentrating too much on high-end homes. I don't think this is fair, because she does an exceptionally clear job in her section explaining why some homes are expensive to build while others aren't. She walks us through three homes, low, mid-range and expensive, explaining how the detail quality changes. Now, admittedly, she obviously loves the really expensive, high-end, $ 175-500 a square foot masterpieces she profiles. But she has empathy for those of us at the low end, and I think most readers will walk away from that section enlightened, if a little wistful.
I'm afraid I'm one of those hapless low budget folks, but I still loved her book. It has great ideas for any budget. But, in the final analysis, remember this: 'tis better to build at $ 50 a square foot, then not to build at all - as long as you're not kidding yourself about feasibility.
I think these are fantastic books. Excellent photos and floor plans illustrate each point in a crystal clear fashion. The author starts with a few basic concepts and shows their execution in various ways in different houses. A great tool for anyone planning to buy, build or remodel.
In the editions I received, both books have 10" x 10" pages. Excluding the Introductions, Afterward, etc... First book: 187 pages; probably more photos than text; medium-large, easy-to-read print. This covers the basic concepts with dozens of examples. Second book: 250 pages; probably more photos than text; medium print (a bit smaller than the first book, but still easy to read). This book focuses on 25 different homes, highlighting the key features of each.
But anyway, the book itself was very good. My husband and I are remodeling a house built in 1949 which used every nook and cranny for some function. It doesn't fit the modern concept of lots of empty space, so we are working on creating a little more empty space while using some of Susanka's ideas for making certain areas more compact. We are expanding our kitchen into a porch, but the ceiling in the porch is lower and this book gave us the idea to just keep it as it is because lowered ceilings add character and are something Frank Lloyd Wright used. I also like her recommendations for wood trim and moulding to warm up rooms and use many windows to bring the outside in. As my title implies, some of the details are pretty outdated such as any picture involving a computer and the kitchen chairs, but that can be overlooked since the overall ideas are still very usable.
The only problem is that I found the actual design and decor of the homes in the book somehow dated and uninspiring. This is definitely a personal reaction, and I'm sure others would disagree. Despite my issues with the actual look of the homes, I'd recommend this as an essential resource along with John Wheatman's books (whose design does resonate for me).