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Not So Big House Paperback – Bargain Price, Apr 1 2001

4.1 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews

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Paperback, Bargain Price, Apr 1 2001
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press; New edition edition (April 20 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561583766
  • ASIN: B003F76K0E
  • Product Dimensions: 25.3 x 1.5 x 25.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 794 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 114 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,556,010 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

When describing a favorite room in the house, do you find yourself using terms such as "expansive," "formal," and "spacious"--a marble foyer or a formal dining room perhaps? Or do the words "cozy," "intimate," and "warm" come to mind--a cheery little breakfast nook or a window seat complete with plenty of pillows and a breathtaking view? More than likely, you--like thousands of other homeowners--are drawn to the more personal spaces in your home, where comfort, beauty, and efficiency meet. In The Not So Big House, respected architect Sarah Susanka and coauthor Kira Obolensky address our affinity for the "smaller, more personal spaces" and propose "clear, workable guidelines for creating homes that serve both our spiritual needs and our material requirements." The heart of the not-so-big house--which is not "just a small house ... [but] a smaller house," that uses "less space to give greater quality of life," and is designed to not only "accommodate the lifestyles of its occupants" but also to express "our values and our personalities," is discussed in chapter 1, entitled "Bigger Isn't Better." Susanka's urging for homeowners to get creative with their space as well as loads of ideas to encourage that creativity are covered in "Rethinking the House" and "Making Not So Big Work." Discussions of specific needs, such as a home for one and designing for kids, can be found in "Lifestyles of the Not So Rich and Famous," while "Dreams, Details, and Dollars" gets down to the nuts and bolts of the operation, looking at quality versus quantity, budgeting, and what "low end," "middle ground," and "high end" really mean in home design and construction. Lastly, the authors look at the home of the future, which involves simplifying, recycling, reducing waste, and using energy-efficient construction. With more than 200 color photographs, as well as floor plans and Susanka and Obolensky's intelligent and lively dialogue, The Not So Big House is perfect for homeowners ready to rethink their space. --Stefanie Hargreaves --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Architect Susanka believes that the large homes being built today place too much emphasis on square footage rather than on current lifestyles. Here she shows how homes can be designed to feature "adaptable spaces open to one another, designed for everyday use." She describes how to examine occupants' lifestyles, how to incorporate the kitchen as the focal point of the home, how to give the illusion of space, and how, with storage, lighting, and furniture arrangement, a smaller home can be comfortably livable. Photographs of contemporary homes as well as those by Frank Lloyd Wright and other modern architects illustrate Susanka's ideas and show the timelessness of the style she advocates. This thought-provoking book will be a good addition to architectural and interior design collections.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"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.
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Format: Hardcover
If you want to expand your ideas about what a nice home should be then this book may be for you. And if you are looking for a book full of pictures to help you communicate with your architect during your next meeting, then again this is a good choice. But if you are like me, trying to design you own small house to be space-efficient and comfortable, then you may find that Susanka does not supply you with much worthwhile information. Her concept, I believe, is excellent. And the book makes no claim to be a do-it-yourself guide. But I was still hoping for some more substance behind the glossy photos. There is little information about the process of laying out a house from scratch to fit a site and its occupants. There is no real method for how to go about optimizing your use of space in the overall floorplan, or how to address common problem situations. It is full of many excellent space-saving examples- but by the time I was finished reading this book I never wanted to see another white room with light wood trim again. The 199 pages of this large-font book are full of "architecturally designed" houses that appear to my eye a bit dated. I also think she is too devoted to the upper levels of the budget spectrum. Most people who are building a "Not So Big" house don't have a half million dollars to spend, which her case studies apparently did.
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Format: Hardcover
I made a list of my favorite ideas from this book, and I took that list to our builder. What I learned is that the author has told us how to build a wonderful small house -- but the kinds of details and materials she advocates will produce a small house that costs as much as a large one! I still agree in principle with the idea of building great smaller homes, but this book is only for those who have lots of money to spend.
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Format: Hardcover
It would be a mistake to think that this clever title reflects an eco-sensitive philosophy. Here are key sentences that show the author's mindset: from page 15, "While you might be able to afford a 6,000-sq.-ft. house, you may find that building a 3,000-sq.-ft. house that fits your lifestyle actually gives you more space to live in"; from page 37, "Another client, living alone in a brand-new 5,000-sq.-ft. house, called me because she wanted to plan an addition. . . . Rather than add on, we reconfigured part of the existing space by opening up the maze of rooms into an open, public space"; and on page 182, "Sustainability does not mean that we should give up any of the hard-earned comforts that we have come to expect in the modern world." This is a book for the rich and the eco-insensitive. If your idea of appropriate cost size is a quarter million dollars or more, this is an idea book with seductive pictures. But if you care about the world in which your grandchildren will live, don't buy into this mindset, and don't buy this book.
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Format: Paperback
Susan Susanka presents her ideas on how to build a better home. Half way through the book she presents her trinity of compromises that the architect, builder & home-owner have to make...price, quanity & quality of the proposed home. I think this is the gem in the book. As many have noted, this is definitely not a book for a "small" or "cheap" home; and this should be obvious as nobody who is limited to building a "small" or "cheap" home would hire an architect to design it! Though she never states it, I estimate that the houses she designs cost over $500,000 to build so consider that when you read this book.
I value this book for the ideas it presents; however, it is definitely a coffee-table book rather than a reference for an architect or home-builder. Not until the last two super-homes does Susan even mention a number. Nowhere in the book does it actually talk about the square feet, total price, price for materials, cost/square foot, material trade-off possibilities, building codes, or anything that is actually needed to design or build a house (or even remodel). The lack of details and thoroughness was disappointing and the reason I only gave her three stars. I suppose this book can be considered a "theory" book rather than a "practical" book, but it seems to me that a well-written book could contain both.
On the plus side, the pictures were very nice; there were floor-plans for each of the houses and Susan has a very nice and clear writing style.
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