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From Barnes & NobleIf you think that living in a sprawling mansion is a dream come true, really think about your decision. You probably already spend more of your time in the kitchen and family rooms than in the formal living and dining rooms. You probably are more c omfortable in an intimate, cozy breakfast room than in an oversized room with the acoustics of a sports stadium.
Between model homes and dictator-like builders it is difficult to translate your vision of what a home should be like into a plan your builder completely understands. Whether you live alone, have a huge family, or are an empty nester, The Not So Big House, written by Sarah Susanka with Kira Obolensky, offers some guidelines to help you design a house that reflects the personalities and lifestyles of the inhabitants of the house. Susanka, who was asked to design the 1999 Life magazine dream house and whose architecture reflects that of Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., stresses the importance of spending money on the quality of the space rather than on the quantity. With the help of a good architect, not to mention all of the tips included in The Not So Big House, it will be easy for you to see that when the focus is on strong details, square footage can easily be reduced. How, you may wonder? When you maximize every square foot of your house, you consider making spaces take on double-duty roles. For instance, most people have a room set apart from the kitchen for eating; Susanka suggests creating an eating room t hat can serve double duty for formal eating and everyday dining. Another idea is to put stools at the kitchen's island countertop for casual eating.The Not So Big House also stresses organization. For families that are not big television watchers, Susanka suggests putting it in a cabinet so that it is not the focal point of a room. She also suggests creating a "control center" for the home, which consolidates the cordless phone, thermostats, lighting, and air-quality controls in one unit. Susanka also suggests planning with the future in mind. This means considering making entryways two-feet, eight-inches wide so that a wheelchair could fit through, designing creative and flexible rooms for kids to grow in, and building closets in the office space so that it can also be used as a guest room with lots of privacy.
All of these extras that really make a house special are going to cost you. If you think practically, a fine balance can be achieved between quality, quantity, and cost. The Not So Big House does have some cost-effective suggestions that are wort h checking out, such as a combined dining and living area, using a lower grade of cedar in the exterior, and using standard-size materials. Susanka's clearly written book, with 200 photographs, will inspire you whether you are going to build, are remodeling, or are just imagining your dream home.
— Soozan Baxter