Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Not So Big House

My brother, Stu Alderman, is an architect. It's always nice to have one of those in the family when you are doing a remodel. :) Over many, many years, Stu has sketched out a couple of houses for us and answered about a bizillion questions. The last big thing he did for us was after we bought Hardy House. In all our years of wisdom, we felt we needed three bedrooms, an office/den/home theater, a family room, a large kitchen, a pantry, a walk-in closet in the new master bedroom (with master bath, of course), an interesting stairway, a dining room and a living room. Oh yes, we also wanted porches - side and front, and back, especially. Not only that, we told Stu we wanted to keep the same "look" of the house to the street,for the most part, to retain the flavor of the time period.

What the heck were we thinking? Stu did exactly what we asked him to do. We paid for his plane ticket (from Austin, TX) and he hung out with us for a couple days. He sketched a fantastic home for us. It had absolutely EVERYTHING we wanted. We stared at it. It appeared to be twice the size of the existing house. And that was just the addition!

I looked at it and tried to imagine the two of us in this house. I started laughing. Were we crazy? Yup. We were crazy.

It took an architect's drawing to make us realize we didn't need such a big house. We decided to work within the footprint we had. It would also cost us a whole lot less money. Duh. It was our Aha! moment. We had been thinking of resale value and were still in the mindset, I think, of having kids around. We will have kids around but they won't be staying long with us. We decided we had to build the house for US. We also had already decided this would be the last house we owned so we would design it for us and nobody else. Everything else fell into place after that. Stu also recommended we read THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE. What an eye opener.

1: Hire an architect to show you what your design concepts look like. It really puts your thoughts and ideas into perspective. It will be money well spent.
2: Read THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE and learn how you can do a lot in the space you already have or are planning to have.
3: If you don't plan to sell your home anytime soon, build for yourself. You will be happier.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,Betsy.

    Excellent advice, and how wonderful that your brother led you to The Not So Big House! It was lovely to read how you've come to this new view of what you want your home to be.

    I thought you might also want to know about Sarah's newest book - just released - Not So Big Remodeling. She leads you through an incremental process of identifying the minimum renovation and remodeling you can do for the maximum quality result, following the same Not So Big principles that resonated with you in the original book.

    In any event, please come see us on the forums at, and please keep us posted on your progress with The Hardy House.

    Wishing you the best,
    Barb at Susanka Studios