Page B3.1 . 10 May 2006                     
ArchitectureWeek - Building Department
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    Serenity on a Budget

    by Sarah Susanka and Marc Vassallo

    A "not-so-big" house is not necessarily an inexpensive house. But if you keep the size of the house small and stick with common materials, basic construction methods, and simple details, you can indeed build or remodel on a limited budget.

    It helps to pare down your notion of home to its essence and to embrace simplicity in your house and in your life. But you will not have to give up beauty and delight, nor do without a few special features and spaces that will satisfy your soul.

    The retirement house that two homeowners built in a passive-solar cohousing community in Durham, North Carolina, offers proof that you can create a tranquil home on a budget that won't raise your blood pressure.

    When the couple approached architect Tina Govan about designing a simple house, they had read The Not So Big House and wanted to incorporate many of those ideas into their home.

    Govan was familiar with not-so-big principles, and she shared the couple's vision of building modestly and efficiently. There was another connection: she had worked in Japan, where the owners had lived for a time. Japanese architectural elements and principles run through the not-so-big design ideas. So it was no stretch for the architect to give the house a Japanese leaning, as her clients requested.   >>>

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    ArchWeek Image

    In a house designed by Tina Govan, a small, framed interior view hints at space beyond.
    Photo: Ken Gutmaker

    ArchWeek Image

    Small houses can be comfortable and luxurious in feeling.
    Photo: Ken Gutmaker


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