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Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home by Sarah Susanka, Grey Crawford (Photographer) Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home
by Sarah Susanka, Grey Crawford (Photographer)

Hardcover: 264 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 0.91 x 10.22 x 10.24
Publisher: Taunton Pr; (October 1, 2000)
ISBN: 1561583774

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Amazon.com: Sarah Susanka has a not-so-insignificant idea in Creating the Not So Big House. She contrasts the glamorous, glossy-photo house plans of vaulted ceilings and palatial living rooms with the livable, day-to-day pleasure of cozy window seats and comfortable breakfast nooks, and her conclusion is resonating with families across the country: bigger but shoddier isn't better than smaller and well made. Descriptors like "spacious" and "expansive" fill the real-estate promos, but Susanka seeks the elusive yet affordable qualities that turn a house into a home. And she provides more than mere ideals around which to rally. She selected 25 house designs, from a southwestern adobe to a Minnesota farmhouse to a New York apartment to a Rhode Island summer cottage, and she profiles each home in great and well-illustrated detail.

Her ideas for interior as well as exterior views, airy stairways, diagonal views, and framed openings translate well in an array of different houses appropriate to childless couples and large families, as well as hot climes in Texas and cooler regions in Vermont. There are traditional designs to fit in with Massachusetts styling and contemporary designs to adapt to California cliffs, and they range from country spaces to suburban homes to city apartments.

Susanka selected house plans that are available for sale, because her purpose is to make affordable quality housing accessible to the general public, but they're also presented as catalysts for your own designs, because the house that worked for one person might inspire the plan that would work best for you. Whether you're in the market for a new house, want pragmatic renovation ideas, or are interested in the concept of space-saving abodes from a city-planning, philosophical perspective, Susanka's book is an eye-opener and a mind-expander, providing conceptual and practical tools to assist you in planning your own livable home. --Stephanie Gold

From Booklist: Architect Susanka has big ideas about small home design. Her 1998 bestseller, The Not So Big House, showcased examples of excellent designs in small houses. Her new book continues to promote well-designed, efficient, interesting modest-size homes. Reacting to the American trend to build "starter castles" on small lots, Susanka proposes that these same homeowners would actually be happier in fully functioning small homes. Her basic philosophy seems to be: 1) recognize that the kitchen is the heart of the modern American home, so don't isolate it behind a wall; 2) do away with the unused formal spaces so often seen in homes; 3) use the money instead for especially useful or beautiful details: built-in furniture, interior columns used to define spaces, interesting lighting, materials, and decorating. To illustrate these principles, Susanka includes 25 delightful examples of houses designed by architects from around the country. Each example features gorgeous photographs and Susanka's simple, readable prose. For small families, confirmed singles, and retirees, this book offers expert ideas on finding or creating the right-size home sweet home. James Klise

Book Description: Sarah Susanka's The Not So Big House spoke to millions of disenchanted homeowners who want to downsize their dream home without diminishing the dream. By evaluating what makes them feel at home and letting their activities define their rooms, homeowners end up with cozy areas they like and use rather than oversize formal rooms they never enter. Creating the Not So Big House explains what homeowners and potential homeowners need to know to get the home that fits their dreams and their lifestyles. Featuring 20 new houses and five remodels of the best Not So Big House designs, Creating the Not So Big House gives readers insight into successful home design.

Customer Reviews
Just didn't apply to my situation at all., January 15, 2003
Reviewer: Atheen Hills from Mpls, MN United States
I have been looking through "idea" books for solutions to some of my redecorating problems and came across Ms Susanka's book Creating the Not so Big House in my search on [Amazon.com]. I was hopeful that the book would provide me with some ideas for my living room and kitchen spaces and for my bathroom, but I was somewhat disappointed. Essentially I found nothing new in the book that I had not seen in others or had not already considered myself on my own. Seeing some of my design ideas actually used did give me a more concrete concept of what they would actually look like were I to put them in place, however, which was very useful in itself. I had thought of opening the pass through window between my kitchen and dinning area to increase the sense of spaciousness and had considered columns to support the overlying structure. The illustration and description of just such an arrangement on p. 173 is a case in point. It helped me realize that this plan might well be a good one. Most of the rest of the book just didn't apply to my situation at all.

Not as good as the original, November 7, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Hong Kong
I bought this book having enjoyed the original Not So Big House, but I found this book to be disappointing - it is very repetitive and doesn't contain any new ideas. All the examples are much in the same style (lots of wood, 1980s style open layouts etc) and the advice is repetitive (lower soffits ...). The look would be very expensive to achieve, and the book doesn't cater for real-life "not so big" circumstances, like how to deal with small blocks of land with neighbouring dwellings close by (e.g. terrace houses). The interior design and finishings depicted are also quite dated, neither classic nor contemporary.

One of the most valuable books i own, November 7, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Pennsylvania
This book is amazing! I bought both books (the not so big house and this one) and they were incredibly valuable in designing my own home. I would recommend reading the first book as a primer of sorts for this one. It introduces the main ideas in building "not so big" and allows the reader to get a feel for what Susanka is trying to achieve. This book allows the reader to see real-life examples of the principles of "not so big".

We started out in a 5000 sq. foot home. We ended up building a 600 square foot home with two bedrooms (and it wasn't because of budget). People are always amazed when we tell them the size of the house. They always guess it to be 1000 sq. feet or more!

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to build a home. It demonstrates rather effectively that less is, in fact, more.

Is this a children's book?, October 11, 2002
Reviewer: A reader from Safe Harbor, MD USA
I liked these books when I first read them, about a year ago, but, having read much since, now find them lightweight. These same problems have been encountered and solved in ingenious ways throughout history. Still, it's always nice to read an architect's opinion, although in this case the writing is too cheerful--like something out of a catalog.

Great ideas, inspiring, May 30, 2002
Reviewer: david rudakewich from flagstaff, arizona USA
Okay, i'm a sucker for this type of book. I mean she suggests that we buy more quality and less quantity. Better houses are built not by making them bigger but by designing them better. Not a novel idea, but one that we constantly forget in the land of bigness.

We will probably be building a new house next year and will be using her books for inspiration. If you are building or thinking of building and are interested in doing the earth justice as well as getting a more liveable house, i would strongly recommend her books as well as "A Pattern Language".

Great photos, great concepts (e.g the "away room"), great designs, though her designs are somewhat expensive.

Smaller is better, how to is good!, February 27, 2002
Reviewer: Howard Bolling from Randallstown, Md USA
Sarah Susanka continues the excellent job she started in The Not So Big House in this book, expanding on the explanations of how and why not so big houses can feel so luxurious and, well, sizable.

A wealth of additional case studies, beautifully photographed and illustrataed, clearly described and explained, make this book a valuable addition to your architectural library.

A Great Book for those looking to build., February 15, 2002
Reviewer: jimkins from Norman, OK United States
This is a great book and should be read by those still in the planning stage. There are many ideas that I could have used in building my first house in Oregon. It could have been a timeless home. It was large and spacious but I could have made it so much more efficient. Too much space just averagely planned was what I got. I had been living in a 8x33 ft trailer home but did not let it teach me anything. Builtin's, builtin's is how to describe this book. It can easily save you much money on furniture!! Buy it to aid you in your planning and save in the building phase. I have not built anoter home but had to buy prebuilt but it showed me many things we have incorported in our present home. Look before you leap my mother used to say and this book will help you see where you will land.

exactly what I wanted; exactly what I believe, February 1, 2002
Reviewer: e-generic from San Antonio, TX United States
Susan captured, in words, the design philosophy I've embraced my entire career. Disgusted with the "big box" neighborhoods indicative of suburban architecture today, it's nice to see another design professional embrace the concept of "creating environments". Prospective homeowners deserve to know that you don't have to settle for your neighbor's house blanketed in your favorite color. Susan designed a great book, fantastic photos and a well articulated narrative.

Not exactly affordable....., January 8, 2002
Reviewer: literatewalrus from South Carolina, USA
This book is filled with wonderful ideas and beautiful pictures. I fell in love with the concepts and some of the designs. But brace yourself - these designs are not cheap. 'Small' definitely does not mean inexpensive.

I am planning on building a house and fell in love with one plan entitled 'Affordable <something>' (don't have the book in front of me). Well, if you consider 'affordable' to be more-than-double the square foot cost of a 'normal' house, then this is for you.

(This was not just one quote, it was the average quote from four different recommended general contractors. I was in shock. I can't imagine what the cost might be for some of the 'non-affordable' houses <grin>)

Beautiful to look at......, January 2, 2002
Reviewer: readerjb from Delaware
.....but hard to achieve unless one has lots of money to spend.

Ms. Susanka has written another lovely-to-look-at book, with many good ideas which other reviewers have more than adequately described. I too wish that more home designers put some thought into the aesthetics of what they are creating.

The problem with this book, and with her previous one, is that the "look" and "feel" she espouses are so far beyond the realm of financial possibility for most people. I wish that her next book would be more realistic and address the issues of how to achieve such aesthetics without spending a fortune. That kind of book would be a BIG help to most home buyers.

I liked that this book traversed the United States and that many architects were represented in it.

I have been lucky enough to have built four custom-designed homes over the past 25 years. This kind of home is incredibly pricey to build. I incorporated some of Ms. Susanka's ideas from her first book in the last house which I built and they were great ideas - but very expensive to achieve.

One previous reviewer mention McMansions and their cookie-cutter designs....Perhaps this book will give some buyers- who have the wherewithall to build such houses -the confidence to spend some of their money on a better design.

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