Sarah Susanka, author of “The Not So Big House” and a number of other “Not So Big” books spoke to the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association’s Green Building Council tonight on what today’s consumer is looking for in a new house or when remodeling. Stressing that the challenge for Atlanta home builders is finding a way to weave together home and life design.  Buyers are looking for a sense of home, not just a house and at the root of this is the desire for a better house. Houses need to be designed for the way we actually live today, which means really looking at the rooms contained within the home and deciding if it makes sense to have formal spaces that are almost never used.

The not so big house has nothing to do with size, it is more about quality than quantity. It is about making the space you live in every day really sing. By building quality and character into the home instead of square footage, you can truly personalize your home and create a place that inspires you every day.  When you realize that home is personal and take your budget and really make it work for you suddenly it all starts to fall into place.  Beauty is the source of timeless design. Beauty is sustainable. We tend to both love and look after things that are beautiful.

History has a way of repeating itself. During the Victorian era they built bigger and bigger homes, but then the economy slowed down and the bungalow was born. The arts and crafts movement followed and self expression and sustainability started to show in homes. This is very similar to what we are seeing today. As the market starts to come back a bit we should expect the cultural creatives among us to start focusing more on beauty and balance, a sense of harmony, home as a sanctuary, sustainability and well-being. All of these traits will be prevalent in homes, as well as life.

Susanka created a great parallel by asking, “What does a map of a city tell us?” Well, it tells us how to get from here to there. She pointed out that a floorplan is no different than a map. It tells us how to get from point A to point B with a house, but nothing about what the home feels like.  To experience the home you must add a third dimension, the dimension of height. Homes with contrast whether it is short and tall or dark and light keep life from being boring. By layering and adding details to define rooms without adding walls, the home becomes more inspiring.

What most of us need is a life remodeling. Susanka covers this in the book “The Not So Big Life.”

Look for Susanka as she starts the next chapters in her life from The Not So Big Community to her pending TV show.

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