Not So Big Ways To Personalize Your Home
Rope rail, window seat, stairway shelf: they sound like an architectural version of Rock, Scissors, Paper, but actually these Sarah Susanka-designed details help personalize a home.
The hefty nautical rope, for example (Plan 454-3), works well as a short and tactile banister with an eye-catching ornamental coil at its base. Or consider the window seat: it’s a simple way to make a room feel less cluttered while accentuating the view.
It’s a natural place (Plan 454-7) to curl up with a good book. Add to the usefulness by storing reading material or blankets below a lift-up bench seat. Or think about a stairway as a multi-tasker that can include space for sitting and display.
The design (also Plan 454-7) makes transitions gracious and welcoming instead of abrupt.
These ideas are just part of what makes the home designs of award-winning architect and Not So Big House series author Sarah Susanka so appealing. They demonstrate that, as Sarah says, “a house doesn’t have to be bigger to be better.” In other words, details count more than square footage. So as you browse for house plans or simply ponder how to improve your existing home, think about how Sarah shapes her spaces. The layout of the house she designed for herself, Plan 454-3, is worth analyzing:
See how open and spacious it seems, with kitchen, dining area, and living room all overlapping — and yet each of the three zones feels distinct.
The built-in corner banquette helps in this regard but mostly it’s all about the soffits. These soffits — some solid, some slatted — are lower than the ceiling and span the transitions between each zone, visually constricting the thresholds to wrap — and define — each room without enclosing it.
Sarah is adapting ideas perfected by Frank Lloyd Wright. Look at his Prairie School style Little house at Wayzata, Minnesota of 1914, on permanent exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York (and not to be missed!)
where the soffit rings the room to create more intimate window seating and a dramatic entry. Or consider his more geometric modern Hanna Honeycomb house at Stanford University of 1937 (which you can tour by appointment)
where the ceiling descends over the edges of the living room and rises above open beams by the fireplace (photo from National Register via Flickr).
We’re excited to be the exclusive hosts of Sarah’s expanding architectural Not So Big House plan collection,
and I encourage you to explore all eight of her designs (the one above is Plan 454-8), as well as her many books.