Not-so-big houses by Katie Hutchison Studio

Manchester Garage/Garden Room

A prospective client who's a fan of the The Not So Big House book series by Sarah Susanka recently emailed me and asked if I could fill him in on my experience designing and building with not-so-big design concepts. I thought I'd share with you a lightly edited version of my response to him.

I wrote:

I have long endorsed the not-so-big design philosophy which prioritizes quality and livability over quantity. Here are some links to a few of my projects which I believe exemplify not-so-big design. 

The first is the Manchester Garage/Garden Room which is a small out-building I designed to accommodate outdoor living three-seasons of the year and a car in the winter. Multi-purpose design is a fundamental principle of the not-so-big canon. Design that maximizes versatility, comfort and fun is not-so big.

The Reading Kitchen & Bath Renovation/Addition reconceives how space is used, to better apportion it and appropriately augment it. Re-imagining flow and use to enhance livability is essential to not-so-big design. This project involved relocating the kitchen to a new addition and changing entry points and room function to support the new kitchen location, such that the owners could better access and enjoy natural light and their wooded, rear yard.

The Salem Antique: Kitchen Renovation maximizes a small space's potential while maintaining a spacious, coherent feel. Incorporating boat-like efficiency to make the most out of limited space is a hallmark of not-so-big design. 

Not-so-big doesn't necessarily mean small; it means smaller. The West Tisbury House is designed to reduce its scale, such that it reads as an assemblage of elements, as if it evolved over time. Incorporating wrapping single-story features helps to ground it and minimize its visual impact on the site. From the interior, the collection of gathered spaces offer spatial differentiation, with some spaces feeling more open and others more nestled. Thoughtful massing and spatial differentiation can reduce apparent scale, while encouraging livability. 

I could probably continue to reference the not-so-big design ideas behind most of the projects in my portfolio, but I'll stop there for now.

by Katie Hutchison for House Enthusiast.