Thursday, February 9, 2012

Inside the Not So Big House

After giving up on our architect and trying to come up with a floor plan on my own, I've ramped up my reading lately.  Last night I finished going through Sarah Susanka's "Inside the Not So Big House," part of a series of books on the subject which I borrowed from a friend.  I love the whole series, and it often takes me an hour to get through a few pages because every photo sparks my imagination and sends my mind down a rabbit trail.

This particular book deals not so much with entire floor plans, but more with details that can make an existing space be more inviting.  In addition to the dozens of PostIt-tagged pages with details I like, I wanted to share a few of the ideas that I took away from the book.

  1. Varying ceiling heights is a great way to delineate spaces that share a common floor space.  Nine foot ceilings in the great room which drop down to eight feet in the dining area will make that area more intimate while still allowing large parties to expand through both rooms when necessary.  Beams, soffits, and hanging lattice can all be used to set apart rooms in an open floor plan, too.
  2. Rooms with small footprints, such as bathrooms, sitting rooms, and libraries, should have lower ceilings in order to keep them from feeling like something stolen from Antelope Canyon.
  3. Partial walls can also be used to delineate rooms without completely cutting the two off from each other.  Half-height walls, counters, and free-standing full-height walls with open space on both sides are all useful dividers that still allow the two rooms to feel connected to each other.  Adjacent rooms which feel connected thanks to sight lines will each feel larger than they really are by borrowing space from the other.
  4. Trim woodwork that flows from room to room at a uniform height will help tie the rooms together and make them feel more like a shared space than like smaller, individual rooms.
  5. Alcoves cry out for builtins, whether they be bookshelves, window seats, or beds.  These make a space much more intimate and inviting than would simply placing a piece of furniture in the same spot.
As with all of the Not So Big books, a common theme is creating intimate, homey spaces so that your home doesn't feel like a warehouse.   This does not preclude having large, open areas as long as you delineate the spaces effectively.

If you're building or remodelling your own home, I highly recommend checking out these books.

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