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Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home Paperback – Feb 1 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press; New edition edition (Feb. 1 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561586056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561586059
  • Product Dimensions: 25.3 x 1.8 x 25.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #48,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
.....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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Format: Hardcover
Where did house building in the U.S. go so horribly wrong? Why is it everywhere we go we see ugly housing developments in which ugly houses face away from the roads onto barely usable culs-de-sac, absent of windows on their vinyl-clad sides? Porches wide enough for furniture only to be lined up? Garage doors the largest design element of the facade? Windows unrelated to the size and shape of the building? Soaring cathedral ceilings and arched dormer windows don't make up for the lack of relatedness of the basic design elements in our suburban dwellings. This book provides some much-needed help in addressing the issues of design and usability in the home. The author achieves her goal of drawing attention to many of the important issues and provides a visual as well as verbal vocabulary so that people can begin talking about these concepts. I hope this book reaches every developer, contractor, and potential home builder so that the American landscape can start to feel like something to be proud of once again.
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