where wildly different is perfectly normal
Not So Big but Just Right
Not So Big but Just Right

Not So Big but Just Right

It’s no secret I was living in real estate hell last spring. A good third of my house was in storage, I had to keep the place showroom perfect, I was flying solo, and I had no earthly idea where we were going to live or when. Good times, good times. Somehow I heard about Sarah Susanka and her Not So Big House concept. Intrigued, and knowing that no matter where we ended up the house was going to be considerably smaller, I devoured her books and fell hard.

Beautiful, clean lines. Detailed design taking into account how people live today, not fifty years ago. Smaller homes with higher quality and greater attention to detail. The kind of house that flows effortlessly from one room to another. Serene, almost zen. My kind of house.

Then I had to return the books to the library that spoiled me, pack up everything we owned, and live on the other side of real estate hell. Four months later I’m still there. Oh, and have I mentioned how I’m never moving again? Just reminding us all.

I digress. As usual.

I love our new town. It’s like living on a movie set, I swear. Wonderful neighbors. Strong community. Big lush trees house cicadas in the summer. Fall brings endless piles of crunchy leaves and the scent of wood smoke. Can’t wait to see it all decked out in Christmas lights. And apparently Sarah Susanka likes it here too, for she has designed the show house for a revitalization project downtown.

Discovered that little tidbit after moving here. Bonus points for the town.

Tonight the architect herself was in town doing a presentation on the Not So Big concept, in preparation for the Grand Opening of the show house this weekend. I met her and did a fairly good job of not gushing on her shoes. Woulda bought one of her books to be signed, but need to save the coinage for actually renovating our house. The presentation was fantastic, learning about the Not So Big concept from the developer herself. I have a lot of ideas about what we can do here.

And then we learned at the end of the presentation that because the group was small enough we could all go over to the show house then.

Yes please!

So how was it? Well, before my damned iPhone bricked yet again (it’s becoming a beautifully designed paperweight), I texted Tom that I was moving in and to forward my mail. My beautiful paperweight also ensured I have zero pictures. I’m sure there will be pictures and details and whatnot in the press over the next several days, so keep an eye out. But, for me? It was like walking into one of her books. The pictures were lovely and the writing was as detailed as possible, but nothing could compare to actually being there in person. The flow of the house was what really struck me. It’s on a very long, narrow lot (the whole house is only 24′ wide), but it didn’t feel like a claustrophobic shoebox. Quite the opposite. It felt airy, yet grounded. The attention to detail was so complete that you almost didn’t notice it, you just noticed how comfortable you were. So many show homes feel like a tarted up house; this felt like a home. There’s a huge difference.

I’m really looking forward to taking Tom there to check it out, to get ideas for our place here. God knows it needs work, and I’m hopeful some of her concepts can transfer to a neglected mid-century home.

So if you’re in this area, come check out the house. Details are all on her website up there. Maybe I’ll even go with you.

It’s the next best thing to moving in.


  1. Paula H.

    So jealous! I have been a big fan of hers since the first book, which I discovered when drawing houses in my previous life (a.k.a before kids). I love her thoughts on smaller scale luxury and spaces that you actually enjoy being in. Now I need to find some links to her new house.

  2. My hubby gave me her books for xmas last year, I think to give me ideas about our sometimes-I-complain-that-it-is-too-small house. Unfortunately it made me more displeased. I gave a lot of thought to the areas that are overused and seldom used and how we could improve it. To have the cozy feeling she gets, and the space fully used (so my kitchen-eating-mail-homework-art-project-table could get relief) you’d need some serious wall moving in my home.

  3. Pingback: A Local Perspective on the Not So Big® Showhouse | StreetScape

  4. Colleen

    Hello Jen,
    I enjoyed reading your blog. I was fortunate enough to be invited to see a private viewing of the showhouse last Wednesday evening and I too loved the airy but cozy feel of the home. I also noticed how the furniture fit so well into the space. Having the kitchen at the front invited community spirit even if it would be just invited in for a cup of tea from the porch!

    Kind regards, Colleen

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