Page D2.1 . 02 August 2000                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
  • New Approaches to Laboratory Design
  • Big Ideas Behind Not So Big Houses
  • Frank Gehry Rock Temple

      Current Contents
      Blog Center
      Download Center
      New Products
      Products Guide
      Classic Home
      Architecture Forum
      Architects Directory
      Topics Library
      Complete Archive
      Web Directory
      About ArchWeek
      Subscribe & Contribute
      Free Newsletters


    [an error occurred while processing this directive]

    Big Ideas Behind Not So Big Houses

    by Sarah Susanka

    When someone buys a Mercedes Benz or Jaguar, they look for quality, comfort, and detail. Size has nothing to do with the appeal of these cars. If you wanted nothing but space, you could buy a truck. Why is it, then, that some people feel compelled to buy huge houses with empty, cathedral-like spaces that offer few comforts of home?

    In my experience as an architect, a house in which every space is designed for everyday living is far more satisfying than one with unused formal spaces for formal guests who never show up. Most of us tend to entertain our friends in the family room; a formal dining room becomes a mail sorting place, and a formal living room is a museum for curios and uncomfortable furniture.

    Rethinking the House

    My book The Not So Big House asks what happens if we eliminate the formal rooms, design our everyday living spaces for both formal and informal purposes, and use the dollars we save to really personalize the spaces we live in every day? It puts forth a message that it's time for a different kind of house—one that values quality over quantity of space, is built for the long term, and is filled with the crafted details that make a house a home. Simply stated, the book proposes that we move away from our obsession with square footage and refocus on livability.

    What defines the character of a house are the details, such as a beautiful stair railing, well-crafted moldings around windows and doors, and useful, finely tailored built-ins. These details are what attract us to older houses. Materials such as wood and fieldstone bespeak comfort, and coziness is created by a room's small scale, lowered soffits at the edges, soft lighting, and even overstuffed furniture.

    Bigger Isn't Better

    When the book first came out in October of 1998, I was frankly a bit nervous about what architects, builders, and homeowners around the country might think.



    ArchWeek Photo

    Architects: Jean Larson and Mark Larson of SALA Architects.
    Photo: Saari & Forrai Photography

    ArchWeek Photo

    Architect Michaela Mahady of SALA Architects.
    Photo: Phillip Mueller


    Click on thumbnail images
    to view full-size pictures.

    < Prev Page Next Page > Send this to a friend       Subscribe       Contribute       Advertise       Privacy       Comments
    GREAT BUILDINGS   |   DISCUSSION   |   SCRAPBOOK   |   COMMUNITY   |   BOOKS   |   FREE 3D   |   ARTIFICE   |   SEARCH © 2000 Artifice, Inc. - All Rights Reserved