Mother Earth Living

Big Ideas, Not-So-Big Impact: How to Live in Small Spaces

Comfort has almost nothing to do with how big a space is—it's about how the space is used.
By Chelsea Brown
January/February 2005
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“Comfort has almost nothing to do with how big a space is," points out architect Sarah Susanka, who pioneered the Not So Big House concept. “It’s attained by tailoring our houses to fit the way we really live—in scale with the human form. Huge rooms are really only comfortable when they’re filled with people. For one or two, or for a family, they can be overwhelming—and they don’t get used.”

Susanka debuts a Not So Big Showhouse at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida, January 13–16. The display showcases sustainability, energy efficiency, and the principles set forth in her bestselling books from Taunton Press: The Not So Big House, Not So Big Solutions for Your Home, and Home by Design.

A Place of One’s Own

Houses get bigger in part because we crave private spaces. Instead, create small areas just big enough for each adult to make his or her own.

Do Double Duty

Save square footage by making a single space serve more than one purpose.

Vary Ceiling Heights

High ceilings are often more impressive than comfortable. More important is the proportion of ceiling height to the room’s other dimensions. Enliven your space by varying ceiling height.

Consider Interior Views

Thoughtfully compose the views inside the house so it’s beautiful from every vantage point.

Shelter Activities

Humans love cozy hideaways. Let walls or architectural details create protective alcoves where you can look out into the larger space.

Create Diagonal Views

Arrange a space so you can look along the diagonal from one corner to the opposite corner. This long view makes the space feel larger than it is.

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