Below are books that I recommend for various reasons. Some are useful, some are entertaining, some are both, and one isn’t even about architecture! Check back periodically, as I will try to update this list as I find books I think you will find useful and enjoy.
First and foremost… MY BOOK! Stay tuned… I will be launching my new book in February of 2017!
I teach homeowners how to stop spinning madly out of control before they even begin their project. Everyone needs some sort of help finding enough pertinent information that will enable them to begin making decisions and organizing their priorities. Not just you. In addition to the need for actual hard-to-come-by information, everyone makes the same mistakes when beginning this process… truly… and I am handing you a means of avoiding those pesky mistakes on a silver platter! Additionally, I teach you what variables you should focus on, which you have no control over (…yet) and how to guesstimate budgets so you can formalize your goals. I also go one step further and provide sage advice on how to avoid stringing your partner up from the rooftop by his or her toenails. Trust me, I’ve seen it all and I’m giving you a sneak peek on what to do and not do to properly prepare, save money and lower your stress level before you even call an architect. If you are wondering how to begin categorizing your various project ideas and want answers to questions you don’t even know you need yet, this book is for you. Click here if you want to be on the mailing list to receive a free digital copy just before I launch!
Sarah Susanka is an award winning author who started the Not So Big movement to help homeowners, architects and builders think about the idea of HOME in a different way. She has since authored and co-authored many books, all of which are written so anyone can understand its principles, and she brilliantly uses graphics and photographs to help depict those ideas. I am only going to mention two (of many) below, but not because the others are less helpful. I tend to focus on providing information for those of you who haven’t yet contracted an architect. As a result, if you are a homeowner looking to build, these are the two you should start with, because they will support a new understanding of concepts that will ultimately help you nail down the list of priorities you will take to your architect. The others delve into more detailed design concepts like symmetry, designing on an axis, landscaping techniques, etc. All are brilliant. Either way, you will get hooked and most likely end up purchasing them all. Clearly a lot of love was put into her books, and anyone about to embark on changing his or her home could benefit from every one of them.
The Not So Big House by Sarah Susanka
This book was the impetus to the Not So Big movement that Sarah began. It is an oldie but a goodie as the information provided will forever be pertinent. It describes in detail how important it is that you focus on quality over quantity and compares huge, uncomfortable mansions to thoughtful small/medium sized well-functioning homes in a way that will make you want to saw your house in half. If nothing else, it will help you ruminate over the spaces you THINK you need before you spend loads of money building them. Make a list of the tasks you do in your home (cooking, kids doing homework, eating, working, etc.) and use this book to learn how to creatively utilize one space to house many of them. You will spend more of your hard earned money ensuring your home is unique and functions perfectly for you, instead of adding 16 different boring sheetrock lined rooms in which you do each individual task separately. This is a great pre-project read!
Not So Big Solutions for Your Home by Sarah Susanka
This is less of a big principle book and focuses more on individual rooms and ideas, which will get you focused on the specifics necessary for a successful project. For example, she describes in great detail what you should consider when building a Kitchen, Mud Room, Entry, etc., along with explaining why lighting, varying ceiling heights and the like are so important to a well-designed home. You will learn something about everything from site selection to window benches. Again, she uses photographs and drawings to depict her ideas, so anyone can understand them. We all have a Kitchen, Bathroom, Living Room, etc., and we believe we know how best to use them. Read this book and you will revisit all of those assumptions, because learning how a trained professional would use those spaces differently will open your eyes to a whole new way of looking at your home.
SoulSpace by Xorin Balbes
I was pleasantly surprised to find this book. The topics that I write about are very dear to my heart, because I want to help people get the most out of any modifications they make to their home, and Xorin apparently has an affinity for those same topics. Xorin has focused on a few key ideas and expanded on them in a way that specifically describes the map you should follow from the beginning assessment phase all the way through to celebrating your finished new home. His didactic writing inspires you to assess what you have, purge what you don’t need (including emotional baggage attached to physical objects which is particularly interesting), dream big, allow those dreams to become a reality (which some of us can have difficulty with) and ultimately celebrate your new SoulSpace. I think it is absolutely wonderful that he spends and entire chapter on celebrating the end results of your hard work, because those end results are why you painstakingly (temporarily) uproot your family and spend your hard earned cash. Those goals can get lost with the natural stresses inherent in building or remodeling a home. By reading that last chapter, you are likely to return to your list of goals when the going gets tough, because he inspired you from the very beginning by pointing out the wonderful end results that are to come.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Condo
One of my blog posts is titled Clean Out Your Crap Before You Bother Modifying Your Home (Click here to read that blog). How can you possibly determine how much space you require if a quarter of your house is filled with crap you don’t need, use or even like??? Some of the coined phrases in this book seem a bit silly to me personally, but if you are trying to learn how to make a major change in your storage habits, then she’s your gal. She describes a mindset you should adopt to make your temporary need to clean a long term fixture in your daily routine, so your clutter doesn’t sneak up on you again in a few years. Heck, she even describes how and what to fold, box up or hang, and how to best store it. Sound nuts? It’s got more 5 star ratings on Amazon than a dozen other best sellers combined! Odd, I know, but it is helpful nonetheless.
South: The Story of Shackleton's 1914-1917 Expedition by Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton
If you are mid-construction (or even pre-construction) and frustrated by your project, are tired of living out of a suitcase, or your contractor just found a colony of carpenter ants happily munching on your wall studs, you may very well need something to help put your nightmare into perspective, and believe me when I say that this book will do exactly that. This is NOT a book about architecture if you hadn’t guessed that from reading the title. This is the real diary and descriptions authored by Arctic explorer Sir Ernest Henry Shackleton from the early 1900s. Picture being on a wooden boat in the middle of unexplored parts of the Arctic Ocean (terrifying), where the temperatures frequent -35 degrees Fahrenheit (brrrrr), the sun departs for months at a time (worse than Seattle), you are sans Patagonia and North Face (that is just crazy talk!), and literally everything you can imagine (or can’t imagine) is going wrong. You know that feeling you get when watching a movie and painful event after painful event keeps crashing down on the main character causing you to think, “Come on, this is getting to be a bit over the top. No one has THAT much bad luck.” Well, that thought pattern begins when you are only 25% of the way through the book… and it is all painfully real. So if you need a little something to help put your project woes into perspective, there is nothing better at making you realize exactly how good we all have it than this book.
Again, check back periodically, as I will definitely add any books to this list that I believe will be useful to you.