In her latest book, The Not So Big Life (Random House, $24.95), residential architect Sarah Susanka, FAIA, focuses her formidable problem-solving skills not just on our houses but on our very lives. Could this hunger to improve our homes really represent a repressed desire to find deeper meaning and satisfaction in ourselves? What is it we truly seek to remodel? Perhaps, Susanka quotes Mahatma Gandhi, we must “be the change we wish to see in the world.”
What makes a residential architect qualified to be the next self-help guru? If you think about it, that's exactly what Susanka's been practicing all along in her “Not So Big” series. Her “quality over quantity” message has already sold more than a million copies. Her words resonated so strongly with readers because she dared to link the practical with the emotional and, even more daring still, with the spiritual. In doing so, she articulated a need many people felt but couldn't put into words—and therefore couldn't take action to solve.
Susanka has spent years working on her own personal growth, connecting bits and pieces from many sources of insight. Like an architect with a well-thumbed spec book, she's attempting to pull all of what she's discovered into a coherent, functional, and satisfying whole in The Not So Big Life. And she's even providing a how-to manual to keep it working properly once it's under way. What she proposes and gives us tools to construct is the ultimate remodeled life. “Home is the entirety of our lives,” she writes, “and the more open we are to our experience, the fuller and more complete that sense of home becomes.”