Home Remodel Ideas for a ‘not So Big’ Lifestyle

In today’s market where bigger is not always better, homeowner’s are beginning to value a less is more attitude. The switch in focus from quantity to quality in residential design has fueled the “Not So Big” building and remodeling philosophy to “build better, not bigger” homes.

As the best-selling author of the “Not So Big” way of life, architect Sarah Susanka, FAIA, has encouraged homeowners to consider what’s most important to a house and how to transform it into a home through simple and responsible choices.
Named a “top newsmaker” for 2000 by Newsweek magazine, an “innovator in American culture” in 1998 by U.S. News & World Report, and recognized as the 14th out of 50 “Power Brokers” in the building industry by Builder Magazine in 2004, Susanka has greatly influenced the building community through her philosophy and 8 publications.  
During a recent interview on The Money Pit’s radio show, acclaimed author and architect Sarah Susanka gave ten home remodelling ideas for your home by living simply and responsibly instead of living large.Alt=Home Remodeling IdeasHome Remodel Ideas for a 'Not So Big' Lifestyle
1.      Set Priorities – When beginning a remodel, consider the three values of quality, quantity and cost. Determine which two are the most important. Because remodeling is an inexact science, one of these variables must be allowed to “float” in order to make a remodel possible.
2.      Examine the Space – Begin to exploring the home remodeling ideas by first looking at what can be done within the existing footprint of the house. By thinking creatively about the available space, you may discover that no additional space needs to be added on. Instead, problems can be solved by rethinking the locations of each activity area within the existing footprint.
3.      Think in Terms of Activity Areas – It is a common temptation to think about remodeling in terms of rooms. However that approach can limit the solutions before the project begins. Instead, create a list of activities that need to be accommodated, recognizing that a place for the activity is needed, but not necessarily an entire room. This allows for a greater number of potential design options and will lead to a remodeling plan that best addresses the needs identified.
4.      Start with the Simplest Strategy – Learn to think about a home as an architect would. Begin by exploring the simplest remodeling solution – working within the existing footprint – and only move to more complicated solutions, such as a bump-out or a small addition, after determining that the simpler solution won’t work. This strategy is the most important tool to discovering a “Not So Big” solution. 
5.      Study StorageAlt=Anchor Evaluate the home’s existing storage areas, including kitchen cupboards, closets and pantries. Many homes have too little storage in places where it is most needed, and too much in places where it is only marginally useful. A little well-designed storage in the right place can replace a lot of poorly designed storage opening up some much needed floor space in areas that are currently too small to function properly.      
6.      Bump Out a Little – Bumping out a section of wall by just a few feet can add some much needed square footage just where it is useful, without making the whole area too big – a common error in many add-ons. A bump out that creates an alcove or a small extension running the width of a room will keep costs down while maintaining the scale and proportion of the existing house.
7.      Add On with Grace – If none of the above strategies meets the remodeling needs, and budget allows, a small addition may be the best option. When adding on, it is important to consider what each exterior face of the house will look like. A well-proportioned addition can greatly enhance the value of a home, while a poorly proportioned addition can actually reduce a home’s value. Good design is always a good investment, and it does not have to cost any more money to accomplish.
8.      Let the Roof Be the Guide – To ensure that a bump out or addition will look good on a house let the existing roof inform the design solution. The roof shape will make some options easy and others nearly impossible without it looking like a mistake. In some situations, a bump out or addition just won’t work without some serious roof reconfigurations that will cost more than it is worth to accomplish.
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9.      Work with Windows – Few things can have as much impact on the character of a room as the shapes, patterning and positioning of the windows. In any home remodeling situation, an interesting composition of windows can add personality to both the inside and outside of the house. 
10. Include the Exterior – Home remodeling doesn’t have to be restricted to the interior of a house. Even if the home does not need exterior changes, consider giving it a prettier face. Few remodeling strategies can affect the long term value of a home more than an external face lift. These can be accomplished inexpensively when done with a “Not So Big” focus on quality rather than quantity.
By following these “Not So Big” tips and considering what’s most important in your remodeling venture it will not only give your house a facelift, but create a home.   
For more home remodelling ideas and how to create Sarah Susanka’s “Not So Big” life, check out www.notsobighouse.com.

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