Not So Big Remodeling: Tailoring Your Home for the Way You Really Live Hardcover – Feb 17 2009
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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.
Marc Vassallo is one of today's top writers in home design. With formal education in architecture and creative writing, Vassallo understands and clearly articulates home design trends and ideas. He is co-author with acclaimed architect and author Sarah Susanka of "Inside the Not So Big House: Discovering the Details that Bring a Home to Life "(2005)," "the best-selling book about crafting quality and character in a home through architectural details. Vassallo writes for "Cottage Living," "Cooking Light," "Saveur," and other national magazines, and is a frequent speaker at home design and future trends conferences.
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It is as well-written, organized and photographed as the other books in the series. I am an EcoBroker Certified real estate agent so I was eager to review the green chapter. I agree with Susanka that, really, the whole book is a green book. The concepts go hand in hand...less space is more green, getting more out of every inch is green, making something beautiful so it lasts is green.
The concepts from the other books carry over. The Not So Big House made such a difference in the plans for our remodel. We were feeling really stuck because the idea of the 5th bedroom that our builder and architect suggested felt so wrong to us. We learned is that if you ask someone like that how to solve a problem they will solve it with a bigger blueprint or a bigger hammer. Not So Big Hosue gives a voice and confidence to the resisting going bigger to solve problems.
There were two outcomes in our design that I directly credit to inspiration from the books. First, we have this fantastic closet that solved our problem of creating a master bedroom in about 1/3 of the space. The bonus was that it also gave us the opportunity to do a facelift on the front exterior. Second, we were trying to maximize the kitchen space. One of the options to get an island in there was to close off the entry between the kitchen and the dining room. After reading the book I realized we would essentially be cutting off 400 square feet of space as we'd never have reason to use the dining room or the living room. Instead we decided to _open_ a doorway between the dining room and the hallway and remove sliding doors between the dining room and the living room. Finally we opted for a peninsula that forces flow between the dining room and the kitchen. Wow! The dining room is now this central gathering and landing space. And, it elevated the living room to more of the grown up family room. The end result is that we use the entire first floor all day long and will probably never have to finish our basement. And all you need is two preschoolers to tell you the flow works. They zoom around as if there are two connecting figure eights in the house...the dining room/kitchen/family room loop and the dining room/living room loop. Such great energy in the house. It's amazing how the whole thing fits together, yet gives us space when we need it. And now that we are done I realize it is the soffits that make the spaces work. We didn't consciously plan them but now that things are painted and assembled so we have rooms again I can really see it in action.
We are so grateful for the insights and inspiration we were hunting for! I'm sure you will find great inspiration in Remodeling the Not So Big House as well.
Using her own classic Cape style house as an example Susanka offers three options for efficient remodeling: work within the existing footprint; consider a small bump-out and lastly build an appropriate addition. Often minor changes are all that are needed to fix an awkward layout or improve flow within the house and the authors always emphasize integrating the old with the new so the house is cohesive and aesthetically pleasing.
The reader is challenged to really consider the way they live within their homes and although most of the book is dedicated to making small spaces more useful Susanka also tackles large houses that are out of proportion to the human scale and offers smart solutions to make them more comfortable.
Not So Big Remodeling is glossy enough to keep on the coffee table yet packed full of plans and blueprints and I would be happy to own it for the photography alone. Many of the houses featured have beautiful natural wood trim and doors with a Craftsman feel that is immediately appealing. But there's so much more to this book than obvious visual appeal, it contains tips and ideas on every page that can be incorporated into any remodeling project - large or small - including the updating of my house.
The layouts are beautifully done. Having worked in publishing, I realize this never happens accidentally but is the result of careful planning and editing. The result here, which combines text, beautiful photos, blueprint-style sketches, helpful captions, pull-out quotes, sidebars, and bulleted lists, is so masterful it could serve as a textbook for graphic designers.
Sarah Susanka introduces many design concepts, such as "moving toward light" and "patterns," within the context of particular situations to show exactly how to make them work in existing spaces.
It's also obvious that her co-writer, Marc Vassallo, helped to keep the text lean yet expressive. Susanka herself confessed (in the preface to "More Not So Big Solutions for Your Home") that she has a tendency toward wordiness. That's not a problem here. Each section features a beguiling lead and then gets right to the point.
This book is a classic that I've turned to again and again whenever I need inspiration. And although we haven't moved any walls or done anything that's usually considered "remodeling," this book helped my husband and I redo several rooms -- with immensely satisfying results.