book review/giveaway – the not so big house

The Not So Big House – Sarah Susanka with Kira Obolensky

As you know from reading this blog, I’ve been obsessed with living a more sustainable and efficient life as well as designing more sustainable and efficient homes based on shipping container and SIP modules.  The Not So Big House – A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live is a book that I’ve come across several times over the last couple of years and for whatever reason it just hasn’t made it into my personal library until now, and I’ve got to say my library has suffered for it.  In fact, in the very first chapter Sarah says “What…I suggest is that when building a new home or remodeling an existing one, you evaluate what really makes you feel at home.  In other words, concentrate on, and put more of your money toward, what you like rather than settling for sheer size and volume.”  This sums up for me what is at the heart of this book and the lesson it tries to impart on current and future homeowners.

Throughout the book Sarah takes us on a journey from one beautifully designed home to another explaining all along the way that our idea of the “modern home” is essentially a den of wasted and unused spaces that were never meant for modern living or entertaining.  She offers us an alternative that is the Not So Big House ideal of homes designed with purpose, designed for THE homeowner not A homeowner.  Again, Sarah says it best: “The Not So Big House offers a way to bring the soul back into our homes, out communities, and our society’s fabric.  The house of the future will be Not So Big – and an expression of who we are and the way we really live.”

While reading this book I learned a great deal about where we’ve fallen short in residential design and where we can improve by getting back to designing homes for people instead of developers or that “ideal” client and I want to pass it on.  Please leave a comment below to enter and on February 11th, via random drawing, one reader will win my copy of The Not So Big House, second edition, by Sarah Susanka.  The winner will be notified via email and mentioned in a new post on this blog.

4 thoughts on “book review/giveaway – the not so big house

  1. What a wonderful concept for a book…I love the idea of taking an inventory of what makes ME personally feel at home. It is the same type of soul searching my wife and I are doing in every aspect of our lives. How can we live more consciously of our consumption (energy, economic, social, et. al)

  2. What an exciting theme for a book – I think I actually live by this rule when talking to people about their homes on a regular basis. I find so many people have an ‘ideal’ concept of a home in their head, and by what society thinks is ideal, but then many of us are unhappy when we live in our homes.

    We downgraded from a 3600sf, 2 story home into a small one story 2100 sf home about a year ago. What my husband and I thought was a ‘downgrade’ has proved to be closer to amenities, better schools, beautiful and cozy home that we adore! I say, if you are happy in a cardboard box, or if your are happy in a 35 room castle, decide for yourself, and not get swayed by pretty pictures in a magazine to set your ideals.

    • Ronique, thanks for the comments. What I take away from that is the old adage “location location location”. 😉 My wife and I, with our two children, live in a 1200 sf Craftsman Bungalow and with a little more fine tuning will be just about perfect. We’re also about 5 blocks from 5 Points and the park, so we’ve got plenty to do outside the house, which helps.
      This book not only showcases a number of drop dead gorgeous homes, but also gives ideas on how to live not with less but just by taking up less space. I think that is something that is important for the next generation of homeowner as move to a more ecologically and economically sustainable world.

  3. Jeremiah, I have also been meaning to pick up a copy of this book for years! I know that Susanka has penned several other books that are equally interesting to those who want to simplify their lives and their living spaces. I already have so many books on my “to-read” list, but I should really stop procrastinating on this one. Great review!

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