Big Appeal of Small Homes

By Kelly Quigley, REALTOR® Magazine

Inside the Not So Big House: Discovering the Details That Bring a House to Life by Sarah Susanka and Marc Vassallo (Taunton Press, 2005)

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Small homes have been getting a lot of positive attention these days, and with good reason. Rising energy bills, soaring home prices, and a trend towards urban living have made compact properties an attractive option for buyers. This book, the latest in a series of “Not So Big House” titles by Sara Susanka, proves that owners of small homes aren’t missing out on anything. Pages are brought to life with colorful photographs of built-in features — such as breakfast nooks, secret storage spots, and window seats — that make smart use of space and add architectural character. Through the vast array of images and descriptions of how each detail came to be, the book provides helpful tips and tricks for making the most of a compact living space. “My hope is that all the creative details in this book will inspire you to turn your home into your own creative playground,” Susanka writes in the book.

Tips From the Book:

  • Consider nontraditional doors. When space is tight, think about getting rid of the traditional door that swings open in favor of a sliding door for bathrooms, a decorative curtain for closets, a pull-down shade to conceal the washer and dryer, or pocket doors that can separate rooms when needed.
  • Add visual interest with varied ceilings. By changing the height, material, and angle of the ceiling in different areas of the home, you can create visual excitement and clearly separate one living area from another. You don’t have to have tall ceilings to make this trick work; simply add wood paneling or use a couple of inches in the hallway to create an arch.
  • Don’t skimp on quality details. To keep construction costs down, many buyers of new homes funnel all of their money into square footage, leaving no money for high-quality details that give the home its character. They’d be better off reducing planned square footage by about a third and funneling that money into personalizing the home with architectural detailing such as wainscoting, wall niches, and door frames.