trending: a not so big house for life

“Currently we think of the house as a place for living to take place in,” says architect and author Sarah Susanka in today’s Wall Street Journal (preview). “Our future house will be a place for accessing the world around us.”

Architect Sarah Susanka began sharing ideas about not-so-big houses during the late 1990s. Her concepts and designs have picked up steam ever since, as people seek to right-size their homes and lives. (Sarah Susanka)

Architect Sarah Susanka began sharing ideas about not-so-big houses during the late 1990s. Her concepts and designs have picked up steam ever since, as people seek to right-size their homes and lives. (Sarah Susanka)

When considering the future, Susanka moves beyond having highly functional and well-designed spaces. She also envisions a not-so-big house which fully supports our expanding lives:

  • Refuge – real beauty to “feed the soul”
  • Ease – interconnected “devices, appliances and control systems”
  • Longevity – needs met today and “for the long haul”
This North Carolina mountain home reveals a jewel box entry that's defined, open and calm. Architects Sarah Susanka and Tina Govan received a 2013 Fine Homebuilding finalist award for the refuge. (Fine Homebuilding)

This North Carolina mountain home reveals a jewel box entry that’s defined, open and calm. Architects Sarah Susanka and Tina Govan received a 2013 Fine Homebuilding finalist award for the refuge. (Fine Homebuilding)

The good news? Smaller-sized living is already seen as a viable option. In a 2013 Gallup poll, one-third of surveyed homeowners said they would move within 10 years. Of these movers, some 47% would buy smaller, 32% buy bigger, 13% rent, 2% buy the same size, and 6% had no opinion.

Surely there are financial, environmental, lifestyle or life stage considerations influencing U.S. homeowner plans. What’s interesting is that nearly half of would-be sellers plan to reduce their primary living spaces. Are you part of this group?

7/10/14 Update: For readers asking about the North Carolina mountain home beyond the entry area, it does feature Sarah Susanka’s principles writ large. Designed for a retired couple and their frequent visitors, the not-so-tiny place showcases efficiency, flow, comfort and nature.

North Carolina Exterior - This refuge honors nature and gets nestled into its setting by incorporating log, cabin, Prairie and Japanese house style elements. With extensive glass windows, the place looks inviting from a small hill. (Fine Homebuilding)

North Carolina Exterior – This refuge honors nature and gets nestled into its setting by incorporating log, cabin, Prairie and Japanese house style elements. With extensive glass windows, the place looks inviting from a small hill. (Fine Homebuilding)

North Carolina Interior - See the spacious and main gathering area, which remains wide open to nature. There's no need to over emphasize decor when trees and lake views become focal points for the entire space. (Fine Homebuilding)

North Carolina Interior – See the spacious and main gathering area, which remains wide open to nature. There’s no need to over emphasize decor when trees and lake views become focal points for the entire space. (Fine Homebuilding)

susanka’s not so big bungalow

Architect and author Sarah Susanka is hopeful about Americans, observing that “houses continue to get smaller in their overall size but much higher in quality.” Now she’s designed a smaller bungalow to feel spacious:

  • rooms defined by ceiling heights, built-ins and visual cues
  • built-in shelving and seating nooks, in many different places
  • artistic focal points and light to draw your attention
  • visual weight by using darker colors below “chair” railings
  • repeated themes carried through the home

Check out Sarah Susanka’s new bungalow concepts below.

This new Craftsman style bungalow has been updated for modern living. It contains 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and plenty of open space. Measures 1,600 sq. ft. (House Plans)

This new Craftsman style bungalow has been updated for modern living. It contains 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and plenty of open space. Measures 1,600 sq. ft. (House Plans)

See the exterior and interior of the front entry, with the ability to pull you into the home. Note the circle etching on the front door window, a Sarah Susanka signature. (House Plans)

See the exterior and interior of the front entry, with the ability to pull you into the home. Note the circle etching on the front door window, a Sarah Susanka signature. (House Plans)

In the bungalow, there's room for a kitchen/dining area, living room and bedroom on the main floor. Upstairs is another bedroom and plenty of flexible space as well. (House Plans)

In the bungalow, there’s room for a kitchen/dining area, living room and bedroom on the main floor. Upstairs is another bedroom and plenty of flexible space as well. (House Plans)

A downstairs master bedroom is filled with window light and topped by an alcove ceiling. Note the proportional built-ins, including the bed, closets and other storage. (House Plans)

A downstairs master bedroom is filled with window light and topped by an alcove ceiling. Note the proportional built-ins, including the bed, closets and other storage. (House Plans)

The kitchen features a lower ceiling and horizontal trellis. It leads into the built-in seating and dining area which works for everyday use or company. (House Plans)

The kitchen features a lower ceiling and horizontal trellis. It leads into the built-in seating and dining area which works for everyday use or company. (House Plans)

To see how the bungalow's main floor might look and flow, architect Susanka says it shares many features from the original "Not So Big House," pictured here. (May Minazine)

To see how the bungalow’s main floor might look and flow, architect Susanka says it shares many features from the original “Not So Big House,” pictured here. (May Minazine)