good reads!

Not So Big Remodeling by Sarah Susanka

I really love Sarah Susanka’s books but this one is my all time favorite. I love that she shows house layouts, has some solutions that are not costly renovations, and generally roots for doing the minimum needed. And I love her esthetic in this book. Some of her solutions that are low cost are shaping space with color, and paying attention to room layout. Switching the toilet with the sink? Now that is something in my budget! Adding a whole livingroom/sunroom and entry off of my dining room (what I would really like to do)- not so much, I am afraid. But talking about renovations, I do have to say I absolutely love the change in the house on page 148! The addition is absolutely perfect for the style of the house, the new kitchen is near the entry which I approve of and what’s not to like about getting an office and bathroom on the first floor (perhaps it could double as a first floor bedroom in a pinch!). Or how about the light-filled basement getaway! It made the house sooo much prettier from the outside, gave the owner some fabulous outdoor hanging out space and is a lovely, useful interior space.

Also Sarah Susanka makes accessible some of the concepts from a Pattern Language, another of my absolutely favorite books, through her use of yummy pictures. Like a room away, which we have managed to do even in our tiny little twenty by thirty house- it doubles as our living room.

A Pattern Language by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, Murray Silverstein and Max Jacobson

Did I lend this book out to someone? Oh no, there you are you little sneak. I had decided to never lend this book out again- it is just too precious but sometimes those resolutions get waylaid in the heat of the moment. I think some people are daunted by this book’s size and lack of color pictures (the illustrations, by the way are fabulous) and take it home just be polite- then it just ends up languishing on their shelves not doing anyone any good. And I do have to admit this sweetie is War and Peace thick- luckily the way the chapters are laid out make it very do able if you happen to own it or if you have borrowed it from someone who can’t remember who they lent it to.

Anyway, if you are like me, you may just want to skip the first part of the book- save it till after you have become addicted to the patterns. The first part is more general, about the wider community, the later part is about houses. And these patterns are like a magic key. For example, I designed an in-town garden and gave it a Half-hidden Garden on the side of the house. I can’t tell you how much it changed the garden- it went from never ever being used to hosting luncheon parties all the time. It was fabulous. Of course all the beautiful plants and the lovely fence helped but the pattern was the key. I would recommend anyone who is designing anything read this book, but especially if you are designing a house or a garden. It talks my language, comfort, community and caring. Fabulous, simply fabulous.


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