Jun 1, 2010

The Not So Big House (Carole)

I am a house-lover.  Just ask my girls how many model homes I dragged them to when they were growing up, or how many decorating books and magazines I've purchased over the years. I currently subscribe to several decorating/organizing type magazines and usually read them cover to cover every month.  I have several notebooks filled with idea clippings I've saved over the years, just in case I have a chance to start a new project in my own house.  It delights me to see how many blogs out there are devoted to making the most of one's house.  All these young women, just starting out in life, fixing up their homes and apartments and sharing their fun ideas and successes with the whole cyber universe.  I love to see the colors people use, the furniture arrangements people come up with, and some very clever renovations -- I love it all!  We do not have cable TV in our house, but if we did I'm sure I'd be glued to the home design and decorating shows all day long (hence, we do not have cable).

Out of all the thousands of articles and books I've read about homes over my 26 years of marriage, the one book that has had the most impact on my thoughts is The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka.  It is one of my favorite reads about making a house a home.  I discovered it soon after it was published back in the late 1990's and have followed its concepts ever since.  I think its ideas fall right into line with a frugal lifestyle!

This book is all about LOVING your house.  But Ms. Susanka approaches this subject from a unique angle -- although there have been many copycats since her book came out.  She is an architect and discovered over the years as she worked with hundreds of clients, that people are most comfortable and content in cozy, small-ish spaces.  She tells of a large and grand home built by some friends of hers.  This mini-mansion was specifically planned with a super-duper LARGE living room and dining room to someday host their daughter's wedding reception.  However, when that festive event finally arrived a few years later, they found that all 100 of the guests gathered in the kitchen to visit and eat and left the grand, showy rooms nearly empty!  I bet you've attended a few parties just like this!  People like to be in rooms that contain your life and that have a warm, welcoming feel to them -- and this includes you functioning in your own home.

The title of this book might lead you to believe that it deals with reducing your carbon footprint (and there is a bit of that), but that's not her real message.  Her message is about making wise choices in your home that will greatly enhance the pleasure, comfort and convenience you find there.  This book (and her subsequent 8 books on related subjects) advocates keeping your square footage to a reasonable amount (4,000 square feet or less) and better using your financial resources  to create lovely areas that add character, personality and storage to your home.  She highly recommends adding architectural details (moulding, railings, stone. . .) to bring charm and real beauty to your rooms, rather than just wanting
big, big, big spaces that end up feeling cool and/or bland.  She recommends noticing the view from one room to the next (lining up doors properly -- if you were building a house, having complimentary color schemes, etc) that entices you to enter another warm and welcoming room and that brings a feeling of harmony throughout your home.

Her ideas are simple but thought-provoking and help you understand how to get the most pleasure for your housing dollar.  I hope you'll seek her books out at the local library and find your own inspiration on how to create the house of your dreams.


Packrat said...

Thank you for the recommendation. Our living room/dining room is 20x25 and just does not "work".

Julia said...

I have this book and another similar book about bungalows. I only live in a 2300 sf house, but I would love to go smaller with the rich woods, stone and warm colors that would make it so comfortable!