Libertyville Not So Big Showhouse
This beautiful, thoughtfully-designed, 3 bedroom/3 bath home was built originally in Libertyville, IL, as a showhouse to exemplify Sarah Susanka's Not So Big® design principles. It was open to the public each weekend for six months in 2011-12, allowing over 8,500 people the opportunity to walk through and try on a Not So Big House first hand. An ideal choice for a long, narrow lot (the lot in Libertyville was just 29' wide), the house has no windows on one of its long walls in order to provide privacy for an adjacent house. Side windows can easily be added along the blank facade if desired. This house is designed to be highly energy efficient, to encourage a sense of community, and to allow its owners to age in place. See Sarah's story about the plan: Libertyville
The kitchen and eating area of the Not So Big Showhouse are at the front of the house, adjacent to the comfortably proportioned front porch. This unique configuration allows the readily accessible outdoor space of the porch to become a natural extension of the kitchen's habitable area, increasing the sense of connection to the neighborhood and community beyond. The dining area adjacent to the kitchen is both beautiful and functional, serving many types of dining needs. For bigger gatherings, an alcove off the living room that normally serves as a library/sitting space can be converted into a super-sized dining area, with some rearranging of the living room furniture.
Because the house is narrow, the stairway has been placed in the rear of the house, rather than across from the entry, as is traditional. This allows the main living spaces to connect to each other without the division of a staircase between them. The stairway serves as both a light shaft, and passive cooling system, allowing light from above to penetrate to the main level. When the upper windows are opened, air is pulled up and out. In fact one of the distinguishing features of the house is its energy efficiency. It has been designed to meet the standards of Energy Star 3.0.
Across from the stairway is another space that does double duty--an away room that provides a place of quiet remove for everyday needs, but which can also serve as a guest bedroom and in home office. There's a full bathroom across the hall just off the mudroom, with a sliding door that hides the shower, making it feel more like a powder room on a daily basis. The space has been designed to work for everyday needs right now, but should one level living become necessary, with minor remodeling this bathroom can be made wheelchair accessible, and the mudroom converted into bedroom closet space.
Above the second floor laundry/hobby area is another retreat place, a Place Of Your Own, or POYO. Accessed by a ship's ladder that's hidden behind a closet door, it's the perfect place for a hideaway for one, and it's a favorite spot for kids of all ages.
The back yard for the house is located on the garage roof. A thick wall provides the needed separation from the alley as well as a location both for the HVAC equipment and storage. In addition, this backdrop creates a sense of shelter for the garden area. With the lean-to roof over the doorway from the stair landing, the illusion is complete. Sitting here, it really does feel as though you are in the back garden's just one storey further up than usual!
“'Not So Big®' puts the emphasis on quality rather than quantity and is designed to fit the way we really live today. It's a message that's being embraced now more than ever, and it's wonderful to see so many people come to the realization that a house doesn't have to be bigger to be better.”
Award-winning architect and best selling author Sarah Susanka is the J K Rowling of home design. She has brought her practical, less-can-be-more brand of magic to the world of architectural home plans. A member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects and a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council, Sarah was born in Kent, England and lives in North Carolina. Hailed as an innovator by Fast Company, Newsweek, and US News and World Report, she received the Anne Morrow Lindbergh Award from the Lindbergh Foundation for outstanding individual achievement, and Builder Magazine honored Sarah as one of their 30 Top Innovators who have changed the face of residential construction.
Sarah Susanka's influential books include The Not So Big House (Taunton, 1999), Home By Design (Taunton, 2004), The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters (Random House, 2007), and Not So Big Remodeling (Taunton, 2009). She has lectured widely and appeared on numerous television and radio programs including Oprah, Charlie Rose, and Diane Rehm. She is showing a new generation of homeowners, builders, and developers how to "build better not bigger."
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