I am not a great reader of non-fiction, mainly because I need a story line to keep my interest, and because I have a horrible knack for not forcing myself to do something that doesn't bring immediate rewards, you know, like a really dark novel does!
But...overcoming all my hang-ups, a few days ago I picked up The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live by Sarah Susanka out of Obi's architecture books collection. And read it, didn't just look at the pictures.
Why? Well. Something about how we keep moving furniture around in this place and keep feeling like it isn't really conducive to the way we live and I needed inspiration and a reminder of why we moved to this little house or I would go insane.
And I think it did the trick! The first half of the book is basically an extremely repetitive persuasive essay in which Susanka begs on hands and knees that her very limited audience would so much better enjoy living in a well designed 2400 sq ft Not So Big House (her caps, not mine) than the 4500 sq ft McMansion they think they want. Which was not at all useful or informative for me because I am not her audience. And it was a bit frustrating because I believe Susanka is trying to make it seem like this is the normal human experience, and that if we had all just designed a "receiving space" into our home where coats and muddy shoes go (complete with the space angled just so to show off some work of art or other architectural feature) then our homes would not require the triple story marbled and vacuous 400 sq ft foyer to make you feel welcome (but it would still cost the same.) Her point is basically this:
But that is basically the crux of it, and there is a breaking point, because we all aren't sitting around planning our McMansion, so people like me and Obi with our six kids could basically afford a heavily tailored and beautiful 300 sq ft cube. Come on over!
"Tailoring is a basic ingredient to the Not So Big House. If you just make a house smaller, but still generic, it won't have any more appeal than its larger cousins. What makes the Not So Big concept work is that superfluous square footage is traded for tangible but more meaningful aspects of design that are about beauty, self-expression, and the enhancement of life."
The second half was much more palpable, and I loved her well thought out ideas about living simply, designing the use of rooms based on purpose and beauty, and manipulating atmosphere within rooms to promote intimacy of space. Lovely!
Feeling a little more inspired by our small house choice, what I am most looking forward to is having the house in an order conducive to me sitting there and reading an actual book. Not non-fiction.