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Paperback The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live Book

ISBN: 1600851509

ISBN13: 9781600851506

The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

Ten years ago, Sarah Susanka started a revolution in home design with a deceptively simple message: quality should always come before quantity. Now, the book that celebrated that bold declaration is back in this special 10th anniversary edition featuring a new introduction and 16 additional pages that explore three new homes. Nearly a quarter-million people bought this ground-breaking book when it was published in Fall 1998. Since then, the book's...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Nice photos, beautiful houses, plans are included, but not what I was looking for.

These are not macmansions, but they are all 2-story, architect designed, beautiful, expensive (I'm guessing because of the handsome details) and I was looking for smaller, simpler, and at least a few 1-storey, and more affordable for more people. This book may be just the ticket for you, but not for me.

It changed my life

Some people's list of life-changing books focuses on works of great spiritual, emotional, political or literary power. Sarah Susanka's The Not So Big House and at least some of its sequels happen to be near the top of mine. The book has influenced our lives in three very different settings over the years: 1) When I ordered the book in 2002 after hearing the author interviewed on NPR, we were living in a 3-story home built in 1919, with 5 bedrooms, a full basement, and enough storage space to absorb just about anything we brought into it. I loved the house, and we had already devoted a lot of time and effort to repairing and remodeling. But now I saw what I had never seen before - how much duplication of function we were supporting (= repairing, cleaning, etc.). We had a dedicated dining room, an eat-in kitchen, and a table on the patio. We had a family room, a living room, and a sun room, all serving a similar purpose. We had a kitchen and a huge pantry. Some of these spaces we used on a daily basis, others only rarely. After reading Susanka, we created a passthrough from the kitchen that encouraged better and more differentiated use of the dining room and put in sun and shade gardens in the yard that encouraged better and more differentiated use of the patio. We converted an outdoor stair landing to the screened-in porch that we'd always dreamed of but never thought we had a place for, till we realized it could be really tiny and yet both beautiful and functional. 2) In 2005 we built a 1350-sq-ft vacation cottage. Applying not-so-big principles helped us include all the features we wanted while keeping the floor plan compact. For example, we figured out that having open storage saves lots of room (no apace-eating closet doors! no dressers!). It would never have crossed my mind that doors were not an immutable fact of life had I not been steeped in not-so-big think. 3) In 2006, we moved from our so-big house to a not-so-big condo. The big challenge here was the totally open floor plan, with kitchen, living room, and dining room all in one rectangular space that didn't lend itself to built-in dividers such as ceiling beams or bookshelves. Luckily, thanks to Susanka, I knew how to use paint and furniture groupings to suggest different areas of function. I even succeeded in creating a window seat, one of Susanka's favorite "nook" devices. When I say the book changed my life, I want to emphasize that I'm not just referring to decorating tricks or clever ways to use the same space in different ways. Absorbing the ideas in this book actually freed up our thinking about how we wanted to live, and live together, in our physical space. We now design our interiors to please ourselves and serve our own needs, not someone else's idea of what a house ought to be. Maybe these are things that other people are born knowing or figure out for themselves, but for us, this book was truly an eye-opener. I highly recommend this book.



Quality rather than Quantity

Although the concept of 'The Not So Big House' is not a revelation to many people, sometimes we need reminding that 'more' is not always 'more, and this book is a wonderful source for inspiration, both philosophicaly and practically. The book begins by showing some examples of when people put their money into building a small home with character, and others that put their money into square footage. The second of the two is only too familiar in my area (Colorado). Here there has been a trend for the last ten or so years of developments being built with large (4000+sq.ft) homes that have absolutely NO design qualities what-so-ever. Even the paint jobs are identical on literally thousands of homes. These developments are not communities. Personally I see them more as the large scale slums of the future. Really ugly. The majority of the book however shows examples, home by home, of how people have built with minimal square footage, using well thought out floor plans, and delicious design details, to create a feeling of comfort, coziness, spaciousness and drama without pretence. Some of the homes were clearly built by people who had quite a bit of money to spend on custom cabinetry, stonework and refined plaster molding. Probably not within the budget of many people even if they do choose quality over quantity. Others are very simple, light filled, and within the budget of pretty much anyone who has it in their budget to build thier own home in the first place. Just a note that this is not an interior design book. This is a book for those seeking a different way of living 'in space' and creating an environment for family life and enjoyable pasttimes. Much of the interior decorating is really quite boring. But the homes themselves are very inspirational. The use of wood work reminds me of older homes, built up to and including the Arts and Crafts movement. The authors are pining for homes to be built the way that they used to be, and by the time you have finished this book, you will be too. I do believe that beauty, and quality of life, is in the details, and a properly designed home makes use of the square footage it has and requires much less 'room' than is commonly thought necessary these days. If you feel this way, or think you might like to, this book is for you.

This book deserves to be widely read

We are just completing the construction of our new home. While this book was certainly not the only source of ideas, it was certainly critical in giving us the courage to abandon the "starter castle" mentality of soaring ceilings and the attendent wasted space. The reaction we are getting certainly bears out the strength of these design concepts. Given the content of the other reviews, I have to be clear about the intentions of this book. It is not a book about building inexpensive houses. It is written by an architect, and architects are generally not consulted when price is the ultimate consideration. It is not a book of house plans, nor a how-to book on house design. It is a book about a design philosophy which considers the house as a place to live rather than as a monument to impress ones neighbors. The philosophy is not terribly original; why does it have to be? It is a return to basic principles of good design. We began this project with a very clear idea of the style we wanted, and someone concerned with style alone might not recognize this book's influence on our home. On the other hand, anyone who compared our home to the starter castles on our block would see the difference immediately. Every room is comfortable and constructed on a human scale. I would recommend this book to anyone in the process of constructing a new home. If I had the money, I would send anonymous copies to a number of builders and designers in the area. This book deserves a wider reading.

I Only Wish That The Book Had No Ending

I'm not in the market for a new home or even thinking about replacing the home we built 25 years ago. Yet I couldn't put this book down and thoroughly enjoyed the author's presentation. The text was outstanding and I was able to relate to the author's expressed viewpoints on home design through the floor plans and photographs presented (which were conveniently placed for the most part on the same page as the related text).I've always remarked that there isn't anything that I wish I had done differently in the design or construction of my home. Having read this book, I know now why I enjoy my home every day of every season.
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