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The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live Paperback – Sep 15 2009

2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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  • The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live
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  • Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home
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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: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Taunton Press; Expanded ed. edition (Sept. 15 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1600851509
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600851506
  • Product Dimensions: 25.2 x 1.5 x 25.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 930 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #52,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Sarah Susanka is one of the leading residential architects in the United States. Her first book, "The Not So Big House," topped best-seller charts in Home & Garden categories in its first year of publication. Susanka has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Charlie Rose Show, and NPR's Diane Rehm Show. She is a former principal and founding partner of Mulfinger, Susanka, Mahady & Partners, Inc., the firm chosen by LIFE magazine to design its 1999 Dream House.

Kira Obolensky has written for print, film, and stage. She co-authored Sarah Susanka's national bestseller, "The Not So Big House. Kira's book, "Garage, was published in 2001. She has received a number of writing awards and fellowships, including the Kesselring Prize and a Guggenheim fellowship. She lives in Minneapolis.


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Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Yah, what more reasonable (see: not rich) people have said. Not practical at all. Her houses are way too big and expensive. This book should be called the 'rich person's guide to go from a mansion to a McMansion.'
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Format: Paperback
Everything others have said. The not so small house is very expensive and does not reflect the needs of either a small family or people with limited budgets. Also, IMO, an American not so big house is still too big. This not so small house is for those who've made a lot of money on their real big house and want something that reflects the same aesthetic values of their former huge home but in a slightly smaller format. It's an interesting book to garner some ideas but impractical for the average consumer. As far as I'm concerned this is a fairly typical moneyed-American view of what a home is. The only justification for the small in the title is that American homes are so overly-large.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are already so many great reviews of this book I don't need to add more but if you are interested in designing a home or working with what you have this really is full of great ideas.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9f911f3c) out of 5 stars 68 reviews
50 of 52 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f933ad4) out of 5 stars Eye-Opening and Versatile Nov. 2 2012
By Jason M. Waskiewicz - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I first heard of this book when I saw an interview with Charlie Rose and the author in 1999. When I bought the book, I was disappointed at how large the houses were. I had just finished college with plans of being a teacher: not a high pay position, especially in the state of North Dakota. At the time, I figured I could never buy these kinds of houses.

Fast-forward to now. I am currently the owner of a 675 square foot home. It is one-third the side of the next smallest house in my neighborhood: the only survivor of replacement of the first homes in the neighborhood. I can't afford an architect, but I've realized that Susanka's philosophy is scalable. The floor plan of my house is brilliant. Space is used very well so that all the rooms feel large.

The main idea behind Susanka's book is to sacrifice square footage in favor of better design. My current kitchen is far smaller than the one in the rental house I lived in last year. It has at least 4 times the counter space and storage. I was amazed how much room I had in the kitchen: on paper it's tiny, but it operates as a huge room. I could go on and on about each room. Brilliant design gives me all kinds of use in each room. More importantly, I use every room in the house every day. I've never been able to say that about any place I've lived in. In previous houses and apartments, there were always rooms that I could avoid for months on end.

This is the core of Susanka's argument. She is not arguing for small houses. She is arguing for houses that are smaller than what we think we want. If we make the houses smaller, we can spend the money on better materials and more intelligent design. A wealthy person will probably build a larger home. Perhaps they can build it at 3000 square feet rather than 5000 square feet. Someone like me who makes less money would apply the same principles to a smaller house: 675 square feet instead of the 1000 square foot house I rented last year.

Susanka is not suggesting small houses. She is suggesting that we sacrifice square footage in favor of design and materials. This is a good message.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f933b28) out of 5 stars A Homeowner Classic Jan. 26 2009
By Nuk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book changed the way I look into houses. We live in our second townhouse and we cannot figure out what is missing or what is wrong with it . Somehow we just felt not as comfortable and attached as compared to the smaller and older house that we have sold. At first we were excited to have everything bigger - higher ceiling, more space, walk-in closets, etc., but we forgot something very important. A house needs to be homey and cozy. It should be something that you will feel relaxed when you come home from work, just short of cuddling you.

The book stresses that it is not the quantity that is important but quality. A house should be practical and useful and not just something to show. This is why a formal dining room is really not necessary. In time you will realize that it is one the most unused parts of the house; so true. It also says that the things that you want to have in your house should be useful or beautiful to you; if not, discard it. These are just a few of the many great ideas for a homeowner or future homeowner.

This is another book that I want to keep on my shelf - a real keeper.
99 of 135 people found the following review helpful
By Sanity Clause - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is disappointing because what she refers to as a not-so-big house is only not-so-big when compared with a McMansion. The rooms pictured in her book look so spacious ... because the rooms are big. She seldom actually admits in her books how big her rooms are, or the square footage of her houses. I can tell you that her rooms are huge compared to the ones in my 1500 sq. ft. house, which accommodates a family of four plus multi-month stays by extended family. She does not deal with the real world, like, for example, children. She uses a lot of built-ins, which make a room really inflexible when you want to repurpose it. She goes for cuteness, like little window seats, which no one will sit in for any length of time because they are so uncomfortable. She likes the craftsman style - which is nice, but it does not fit well with the basic design of every house that someone might already own. She does not deal with real issues with small houses, for example that they also come with small yards. Not all of us can just put a window anywhere on the wall to look out on a beautiful view. It took me quite a while to figure out that her houses are not really not-so-big. What a waste of money her books were. I'd like her to give me my money back for selling under false pretenses. Don't buy these books for real construction ideas. They are really for the guilty rich who want to convince themselves that their 2000-3000-sq. ft. house is not-so-big, and justify spending a lot of money inside it for custom built-ins that will be torn out when their current lifestyles change.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f93533c) out of 5 stars Not So Big House Feb. 7 2009
By Izzie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I did learn a lot by reading the book but would have liked more diversified styles. My traditional, European style wasn't at all portrayed and too much modern for my tastes. She has a lot of good ideas but illustrations, pics, etc to show different tastes, would have helped a lot.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9f935420) out of 5 stars Very valuable tips for using space well -- small yet with BIG feeling Jan. 25 2015
By Jim Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We are designing a new home and had a vague sense of disconnection from the first round of drawings that showed us huge rooms and vaulted ceilings. This book is helping me understand why I was uncomfortable with the hugeness. Using these concepts, we are working on a second round of drawings w/ our architect, and on this round we are working varied ceiling heights, looking for ways to create smaller/intimate spaces within the house, and reducing single-use spaces. Honestly, using these ideas I'm guessing we will reduce space by a third. WAY worth the price. On the flip side, I was disappointed with the very limited number of properties used for demonstration in this book. And while the concepts are incredibly valuable, I was shocked that this authors editors allowed her to call this an "update" while keeping all the photos of circa-1980 technology.


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