"The Not So Big House" is the best treatment I know of on efficient use of available space in a house design. Sarah Susanka favors built-in storage near the points of use, which is efficient in both use of square footage and on time spent getting things out of storage to where they're needed. Of course built-ins raise the cost of a house, which leads to Susanka's central thesis: a small, well-designed house with attention to detail will be costly -- but, in her opinion, worth it. She suggests toting up the square footage vs. time spent in various home spaces, and finds that typically formal living and dining rooms are budget busters that are used only rarely. Skipping these formal rooms will free up money for higher quality in the remaining spaces.
Susanka falls down on the job with her limited treatment of ways a prospective home owner can save money on their dream house. Specifically, she mentions only
- smaller size
- less attention to detail (lower quality)
- a cheaper lot
but not, for example
- changing the number of stories (2-story homes save on foundation costs over ranch homes)
- owner labor
- owner functioning as general contractor
The book, filled with excellent color photographs (many by the author) is extraordinarily well laid out. The text continually refers to "the photo above" rather than something like "Fig. 8-3b". Accompanying floor plans show the point and angle of the associated photos, making it easy to build up a mental picture of the overall space from a few choice shots. The lighting, contrast, color balance, and composition of the photos is outstanding.
I must mention that the book is basically a paen to houses heavy on natural interior wood detail. In American homes this is exemplified by the Craftsman style; the feature also applies to traditional Japanese houses. It's a style that I personally like so that's not a detriment for me. If instead your taste runs to French country homes, where every scrap of wood must be painted, you'll probably have some qualms at the author's architectural bias.
Unlike most architecture books which feature carefully decorated rooms you couldn't possibly be comfortable living in, the spaces depicted in Susanka's opus are refreshingly naturalistic. That's not to say that there are photos with kids' fingerprints around the light switches (as in real life). But this book is a rarity in showing bookshelves loaded with paperback books instead of the usual sets of matching leather-bound volumes, each shelf having three books stacked sideways to hold some Object d'Art. And there are actual kids' toys on actual floors!
A final, fairly significant drawback is Susanka's short shrift when it comes to non-design topics. For instance, energy efficiency only gets a couple of pages. There are even shorter treatments of recycled materials, sustainability, and alternate (other than stick-built) construction styles. All of these "peripheral" subjects are crammed into the last (and shortest) chapter.
Summary: This book is a rich resource of ideas on how to design a house that's efficient for your actual lifestyle. You'll need to look elsewhere to figure out how to build it and pay for it. But because design is the spearhead of the architectural process, this is an excellent starting point.