||Our homes have a lot more to them than meets the eye. Because we all live in them, we assume that we understand them, that we know how to design one, and that we know how to make it just right for ourselves and our loved ones. But our homes are, in fact, pretty complicated places, and it generally requires significant expertise to transform an idea into a workable reality, be it a small touch up or a full-fledged overhaul.
The following pages will help you understand your dwelling place in a completely new way. This book is a training manual for those who want to learn how to tailor their homes to fit their lifestyles. The insights and explanations come from many years of experience as a residential architect, working with normal, everyday folks, with normal everyday house problems...a bathroom where the door hits the toilet when opened all the way; an isolated, cramped kitchen; a house with no peaceful, quiet places to escape the noise and distraction of TVs, stereos, and computer games. These are real problems encountered daily by households across the globe, but they can all be easily solved if we simply rethink the way we approach space and function in our homes.
Each of these essays originally appeared in Fine Homebuilding magazine, where, for nearly five years, my column 'Drawing Board' has appeared. In each essay, I've offered readers the opportunity to share in the know-how that comes from working on these everyday house headaches for a couple of decades. Your home's shortcomings almost certainly have characteristics and cures that are similar to someone else's. By sharing the solutions and the thought processes behind them, my hope is that we will gradually improve our housing stock, both existing and new.
It's exciting that these columns are now all collected into one volume, where they're more accessible to a larger audience. Since they appeared in a magazine initially, I wrote them one at a time, each a couple of months apart. It wasn't until I reread them in preparation for this book that I realized just how much useful and easy-to-implement advice they contain. Whatever your budget, there are ideas here that will help you make your home support rather than obstruct your daily routine.
I actually began the 'Drawing Board' column just after I had completed my first book, The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live. Little did I know at the time that the book would strike such a chord with readers. Since its publication, a veritable movement has taken hold, comprising people who are tired of big, amorphous houses with little or no soul. The book explains in simple language what my architectural clients have been requesting for years--a house that's not so big but ultimately better. Better because it's a carefully crafted form of the inhabitants' personal expression and better because it's designed for today's lifestyle rather than that of a century ago. Its sequel, Creating the Not So Big House: Insights and Ideas for the New American Home, demonstrates how these concepts have been translated into actual homes.
As I traveled the country explaining the concepts behind building Not So Big, I realized there was a vast audience for this rather simple message--that we can do more with less space and actually have houses that feel bigger and work far better in the process. The Fine Homebuilding articles have given me an opportunity to elaborate on the topics in the books and help make them applicable for anyone trying to fine-tune their home to their way of life.
It's important to point out that none of the ideas that encompass this Not So Big approach to design is particularly new or revolutionary. Architects have been working with them since Frank Lloyd Wright introduced the concept of the Usonian House -- a house for every man -- in the mid-1930s. But what hasn't been available until now is a language with which homeowners, builders, realtors, interior designers, and architects can talk to each other about what makes a home work today and about what makes it sing. This collection of essays offers simple concepts that will help further this goal.
I firmly believe that if we can simply explain to each other what we really want in and from our dwellings, we'll find answers that are less resource consumptive and far more satisfying to the soul. Our homes willingly reveal the secret to their metamorphis, but we have to learn how to pay attention and listen. Read on, and find out how to listen to your own dwelling place and how to transform it, regardless of its size, shape, or character, into the home of your dreams.