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Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home [Paperback]

Sarah Susanka , Grey Crawford
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 1 2002 Susanka
In this sequel to The Not So Big House, Sarah Susanka shows readers how to create extraordinary "Not So Big" homes. She leads a personal tour through 25 of the most beautiful, well-designed homes in North America. More than 200 color photos, floor plans and design details illustrate this innovative philosophy.

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Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home + The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live + Inside the Not So Big House: Discovering the Details That Bring a Home to Life
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Product Description

From Amazon

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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Susanka's very successful The Not-So-Big House (LJ 9/15/98) nimbly capitalized on the 1990s small-is-beautiful wave that touted voluntary simplicity, downsizing, and contentment with one's lot in life (especially if that lot includes an average, middle-class house in the suburbs). This follow-up features 25 new and redesigned homes thought to embody "not-so-big" principles such as shelter around activity, double-duty rooms, interior and diagonal views, variety of ceiling heights, importance of personal space, and so on. The book's design allows readers to flip through looking for ideas about trendy house typesDPueblo-style, the old farmhouse, Shaker cottage, shingle-style, Fifties retro. Simple house plans and carefully constructed photos of well-appointed space abound. The writing is unchallenging, nontechnical, sunny, even cozy. Couples and architects are referred to by given names (Barry and Susan, Sally and Gary), and each episode follows a rather numbing, prosaic patternDunhappiness with present quarters, lifestyle examination, and problem-solving (unfortunately without expenses listed), concluding with "not-so-big" bliss. While the first book is not required prior reading, this is best recommended for libraries where the first book proved popular.DRussell T. Clement, Northwestern Univ. Lib., Evanston, IL
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I can't get enough! This book gives me even more idea for my new house. The pictures as usual are fabulous. Thanks Sarah!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Resource April 4 2010
This is a great book for anyone who questions the need to build ever bigger and bigger homes. Written by an architect but easy to digest. Simple but elegant ideas for creating more with less.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest House book, awesome stuff. Nov. 13 2003
This is packed with so many great ideas and principles. It'll change everything you thing you want in a house. A must read.
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I liked the way this book looks. It has beautiful photos in it, with a wide variation of house styles, sizes and cool solutions tailored to each homeowner/family. That being said, what intrigued me the most was *why* Susanka chose the houses, and what she saw in them that worked with her "Not So Big" philosophy. I have not read her original book, so none of the information was rehashed in my reading. Perhaps if I had, I wouldn't have enjoyed this book so much. However, I suspect that "Creating the Not So Big House" offers more in the way of practical application of the theory and is therefore valuable on its own. I also figure that since it shows personal interpretations of Susanka's original thoughts on homebuilding, it offers a different "flavor" of the same basic idea.
This book also made me want to buy the original, so I can get more of the pure "mindset" part of Susanka's message. Perhaps that was part of the point. :)
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This is a good book. Unfortunately, it's a follow-on to an EXCELLENT book ("The Not So Big House"), and fares poorly by comparison. As this later volume is sold as a companion book in collection with the original, it's entirely fair to take this comparison into account.
So what's wrong with "Creating the Not So Big House"? It comes down to the writing, the photos, the editing, and the content. To be clear, none of these four areas are terrible -- but the first book hit high marks in all respects. So I'll go through each in turn.
Sarah Susanka is by training an architect rather than an author. The text shows the lack of a professional writer, for example, in excessive use of commas, separating both dependent and independent clauses, resulting in choppy sentences, just like this one. (A real quote: "By adding the new area as a separate structure, connected to the old house by a flat-roofed section, the existing roof could remain untouched, which was a major money saver.") It is clear that freelance writer Kira Obolensky made valuable contributions to the original "The Not So Big House".
This volume and "The Not So Big House" have the same format: 10" x 10" square, with photographs pushing to all four page edges at times. Most photos in the first book are at least 1/4 page in size (25 square inches); about 20% (or over 40 of the 200+) in "Creating the Not So Big House" are under 6 square inches, and in many cases they're just too small to be worthwhile. An example from page 129: "A spacious pantry serves the same function as cupboards" -- but the size of the photo renders this "spacious" pantry only 5/32" across.
Their size apart, the photographs by Grey Crawford are well composed, with excellent contrast and color depth.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun and useful ideas May 7 2003
I keep buying copies of this book because its a book friends and new acquaintances pick up and fall in love with and I end up saying "Oh take it...let it be my gift"... The fact that it is so popular with all my friend who come from all walks of life tells me that its a book that just about anyone will like and a book that the reader will find something of interest and use in.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Just didn't apply to my situation at all. Jan. 15 2003
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.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the original Nov. 8 2002
By A Customer
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.
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