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Inside the Not So Big House: Discovering the Details That Bring a Home to Life

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  451 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
In her latest book, best-selling author of "The Not So Big House" Sarah Susanka teams up with architectural design writer Marc Vassallo to expand upon the message that has resonated with over a million homeowners and builders across the country: opting for personalized, well-crafted, thoughtfully designed spaces over superfluous square footage results in a home that comfor ...more
Hardcover, 210 pages
Published September 1st 2005 by Taunton Press
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Jan 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Lovely little book with nicely framed photos, and some nice insight into architectural details and their necessity/impact on residential living. My main qualm is that there aren’t many photos of exteriors, making it hard to visualize the actual space that the details occupy (a house isn’t just its parts, but also it’s sum). Also, it can be a little hard to relate to some of the more kitschy details, but I think that’s to be expected (the book is more than 15 years old, and some architectural det ...more
Brian Rogers
Oct 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
Not as weighty as the first not so big house, or as informative as some of the other books, this is still a useful volume that nicely crosses architectural theory with lifestyle porn. The interior photography is all gorgeous, each of the houses is obviously meticulously crafted in its original design or a remodel, but the books exists mostly as a companion piece to the first volume to spark ideas and show how some of the concepts can work in practice. I'm grateful i got it out of the library, bu ...more
Mary Catelli
Mar 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A study of the interior archectural details -- trim, niches, built-in bookcases, niches.
Dec 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's been a while since I read "The Not-So-Big House", so when I saw this one at the library I picked it up and read it over coffee for the next few mornings. The photos are well-done, though I wish that there were floor plans included with each house so that I could tell what the pictures were showing. This book reads better than the standard architecture book, which usually, for reasons unknown to me, favor ittybitty print and vast expanses of white on each page, making you go over each paragr ...more
Feb 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
I love Sarah Susanka! In an era of McMansions, her devotion to regular sized homes is a delight! I recommend all of her books to those people who have better things to do than clean their huge houses, who do not equate their self worth with the size of their home, and those who care about their heating/air conditioning bills for financial &/or environmental reasons. She has excellent design skills and proposes many unique solutions to make the most of limited space.

This book introduces a va
Graeme Roberts
Sep 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book for its consistency and clarity in bringing out the details in houses that can give them "the quality without a name" that Christopher Alexander discusses in his books, which we might approximate by calling it "soul" or "life." Most of the houses have the glossy, perfectionistic architectural slickness that I find so objectionable in many houses (at least when they are photographed), but a few are more relaxed and less concerned with aspiration and image.

That is the quality tha
Jan 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction-home
I read the introduction and the first few chapters (each chapter highlights a separate home). When I felt that I had the general idea behind Susanka's 'not so big house' theory, I skimmed the rest of the book looking for pictures I liked. The photographs throughout the book are beautiful.

I find that I agree with Susanka's basic architectural philosophy - choose/build a smaller house, focusing on the details that make it beautiful. When you don't spend so much on square footage you don't need, yo
May 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
When people come into my house for the first time, one of the first things they notice is the arched opening between the living/dining rooms. It's also the first thing I noticed and it made me want to buy the house right away. Why is that?

This book helps you understand why certain details in a home are so comforting and/or compelling. It also helps you see how you don't have to have a lot of money or an enormous space to have a house that's a real pleasure to live in. The photography and writing
May 13, 2010 rated it liked it
This is a follow up to The Not So Big House. The idea behind this style of home is that you look at your budget for a house, decide how much you can afford and how much square footage you can get for that price. Then you decrease your square footage by one third and spend the money that you would save on custom details so that you really love your house and it really fits your personality.

This book is a high level idea book for customization. I found some things that I love. Whether or not we wi
Nov 02, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
Oops. When I saw "details that bring a home to life" I was thinking throw pillows and curtains and stuff. This book is about details like arched ceilings and bay windows and built-in furniture: ie, if you're having a home built, doing a massive remodel, or just plain interested in home architecture. ...I am not, though that's hardly the book's fault. I tried to just give it a neutral rating anyways since I know if I don't add it to Goodreads, I'll check it out again and be all "...where are the ...more
Jun 25, 2007 rated it it was ok
This book suffers from a error in its titling. In an attempt to generate reader interest, they described houses that are actually quite large(but not, as they might argue, expansive, or behemoth in size) as "not so big". While it is true that they are not so big as some McMansions that are popular with many people, they are also not as small as the tumbleweed or other compactly designed houses that the title might evoke.

This book focuses on how to use architectural design elements to give unity and character to a house. Most of its points on furniture involve built-in solutions (bookcases, window seats, cabinets, etc.), and to implement the suggestions from the book in your own house would probably require hiring a local architect. Susanka makes some great observations, but many are not realistic for someone looking to casually improve the look of a house (vs. a large-scale redesign).
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: life-skills
This book was even better than Susanka's other books on home design in that it was filled with inspirational ideas for adding lovely, built-in architectural details to homes to instill them with character. Such features include dropped ceilings, built-in shelves, pocket doors, window seats, and alcoves, as well as many others. It comes with before and after photos, which are highly revealing, and explanations detailing why these design elements are so pleasing to the eye.
Feb 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a book designed to bring out the importance of built-in architecture in a house - details such as interior rooflines, trim, cubbyholes, bookcases, etc. It's a very important design point, but unfortunately almost every example they have in this book is of a house whose architectural style I do not like
Allison Severson
Oct 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Full of beautiful photos! This book is about architectural, permanent details, not organizational details. This book would be perfect for someone remodeling, building, or ready to make some significant changes to a home. So, it wasn't as useful to me as I thought it might be when I picked it up off the shelf, but hopefully in a few years I'll need to pick it up again.

Angela Boord
Sep 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: homemaking
I don't like this one as much as her original book, The Not So Big House. Some of the houses included in the book just seem ugly to me, and many of the details seem less doable by regular people. On the other hand, there are some gems, and I appreciated that she keeps hammering home that in a kitchen less expensive finishes do not have to equal generic plastic sameness.
Jun 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
I've read quite a few of Susanka's books, and have liked some and not others. I found lots of good ideas in this one which help me visualize what I would like to see in my addition. She does repeat herself throughout her books, but this is something that can't be helped, as she doesn't expect the public to read ALL of them.
Sep 19, 2011 rated it it was ok
See my review of the other Susanka book I read. In a nutshell: Her ideas are cool, but more expensive than I'd spend on a "not-so-big" remodel. Also, she assumes you have more space to work with than the average person does where I live. I could see this book being much more helpful in the Midwest, or any other less pricey zip code than mine.
Erika RS
Jul 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Note that I read this book when I was pretty burned out on house books.

Inside the Not So Big House covers much of the same content as Susanka's Home by Design: Transforming Your House Into Home, but through case studies rather than through discussion of the principles involved. Since I prefer a balance which leans toward principles, I did not find this book particularly useful.
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Since I'd already read Creating The Not So Big House, I didn't find this book very enlightening. There were, however, some good visual examples of how to be the most efficient with the space in your home in terms of storage, as well as how to make a how to make your house feel comfortable and well-proportioned without upping the square footage.
Jul 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Susanka explains the details that make smaller homes more livable and beloved than cookie-cutter mcmansions. I support the struggle, even as I doubt the impact her books will make on the housing industry. But her, I'd be delighted to be wrong, and to see smaller, better constructed houses replace the big random uglies. Certainly she's influenced the design of my mental dream house.
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Sarah Susanka does it again! This book is all about details inside the home that make a space special. Helpful pictures throughout help us see what the space in question would look like with and without the details.
Oct 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
It's all about the details and this book goes into great details about what makes a not so big house a perfect home. Great for anyone interested in building or remodeling a house and looking for those little details that really make a big impact.
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I've never seen anyone recycle so many of the same photos from one book to the next. Regardless, Susanka definitely knows how to articulate the fine points for achieving a "this-feels-like-home" look.

This was the best of the three I got. Good wood ideas for P.
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: home
06/15: The subtitle more accurately describes this book than the title, "Discovering the Details that Bring a Home to Life." This book offers comparable photographs showing why certain design/architectural elements are important.
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it
This was more of a 2.5...good idea, I just didn't enjoy the "modern" style of most of the homes.
Jul 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Reads more like a text book. I think all the topics are covered in other Not So Big books, so go with the Remodeling one or the original.
May 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
There's a photo in here of a tall window that goes nearly to the floor behind a kitchen sink that I kept flipping back to. Marvelous.
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012, design
Non-Fiction; Home Improvement
4 stars
Jul 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a great book if you want to make some changes.
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Sarah Susanka is a bestselling author, architect, and cultural visionary. Her "build better, not bigger" approach to residential architecture has been embraced across the country, and her "Not So Big" philosophy has sparked an international dialogue, evolving beyond our houses and into how we inhabit our lives. In addition to sharing her insights with Oprah Winfrey and Charlie Rose, Susanka has be ...more