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

by Sarah Susanka

Hardcover, 1998




Newtown, CT : [Emeryville, CA] : Taunton Press ; Distributed by Publishers Group West, c1998.


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 simple message -- that quality should come before quantity -- has started a movement in home design. Homeowners now know to expect more. And the people responsible for building our homes have also gotten the message. Architects and builders around the country report clients showing up with dog-eared copies of The Not So Big House, pages marked to a favorite section. Why are we drawn more to smaller, more personal spaces than to larger, more expansive ones? Why do we spend more time in the kitchen than we do in the formal dining room? The Not So Big House proposes clear, workable guidelines for creating homes that serve both our spiritual needs and our material requirements, whether for a couple with no children, a family, empty nesters, or one person alone. In 1999, Sarah Susanka was then architect and principal with Mulfinger, Susanka, Mahady & Partners, the firm selected to design the 1999 Life Dream House brought Frank Lloyd Wright's same common-sense, human-scale design principles to our generation. Consider which rooms in your house you use and enjoy most, and you have a sense of the essential principles of The Not So Big House. Whether you seek comfort and calm or activity and energy at home, The Not So Big House offers a place for every mood.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member rampaginglibrarian
This is a really helpful book (mostly for those just moving in to a first home and also designing their own home). I used to think i wanted to live in a grand mansion but now i know differently.
This book has many helpful ideas for those of us living in smaller houses and smaller rooms.
LibraryThing member dpevers
A good introduction to thinking about architectural home design and becoming a knowledgable consumer through the questions to ask oneself. A disappointment because I was hoping for more "nuts and bolts" on the effective use of space in a small house.
LibraryThing member carterchristian1
A delightful book of interior design ideas, pictures, inspiration. You ask yourself, is your house meeting the needs of your present style of living ? What extra spaces do we have that we do not use ? There are so many delightful photographs and new ideas. There is a fireplace with enormous rocks,a window seat,one of my favorites, bookcases just below the ceiling, a nice roomy computer area.

Planning ideas, such as a "wish list" aside a "reality list".
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LibraryThing member ellenr
Interesting concept about the space we live in. Quality above quantity. A house that fits the way one lives and reflects what one appreciates. Much of it harkened to the arts and crafts style and Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie and Usonian houses.
LibraryThing member NielsenGW
For a while there, people wanted large houses—big kitchens, big vaults, big bedrooms. But now, with a greater social awareness and rapid population comes the thought that there might be a limit to how much living space a person actually needs. Sarah Susanka’s The Not So Big House takes a look at how living spaces can be modified or built to accommodate a whole range of needs without becoming sprawling ranch houses.

When square footage is limited, details are important. The setup and flow of each room must maximize their utility. Susanka’s tour of dozens of houses and floorplans shows the reader how to conceptualize their space and build accordingly. What is most stunning about this is the hundreds of photos throughout. Floorplans are nice, but actually seeing a space is necessary when talking about it. There are few famous houses here, including Wright’s Goetsch-Winkler House and a few by Le Corbusier.

All in all, this is a handy guide for building a new house or remodeling an existing space that discourages lavishness. Instead, Susanka asks the reader to really think about how they live and what rooms mean the most to them. After that, it’s the details that make a house a home. I got a great deal of ideas from this book, and I suspect other readers may as well. An engaging and vibrant book.
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