Back in the 1970s when comedian/actor Steve Martin was just comedian Steve Martin, he had a stand-up routine that was very popular in the comedy clubs and on college campuses. “Let’s get small,” it would go. Of course, Martin had a whole different meaning in mind.
Today there are some very serious-minded people urging us to “get small,” or
at least to not get so big. Architect Susan Susanka is one of them. A number
of years ago she published, “The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the
Way We Really Live.” Susanka used her own and other design professionals’ work
and experiences to illustrate that the quality of our lives, and the quality
of our interiors, is not measured in square feet. Indeed, smaller houses mean
more money left in the budget to enrich and embellish our interiors with architectural
details and quality furnishings. Classic architectural styles from modern Scandinavian
to Craftsman to Wright’s Prairie style understood this.
Fear not, getting small in no way means fewer or smaller windows to treat. On
the contrary, it actually could mean more and larger windows, the importance
of sightlines and exterior views being paramount in a small place that feels
big. Getting small also does not mean being simple, bare or uninteresting. A
small space actually requires more creativity, a better selection of materials
and furnishings and a better understanding of how customers use the space—in
other words, the talents and skills of decorating professionals.
In this month’s Design Perspectives (page 30) Karla Nielson takes on the
whole subject of designing and decorating small spaces. She tells us that while
not necessarily in vogue right now—especially in this time of McMansions—there
is a counter-trend toward smaller, multi-use spaces and human scale design. It’s
even finding it way into larger homes and rooms through “massing” and
creating focal points within these areas.
We follow that up with our Small Spaces design portfolio (page 34) with seven
pages of examples of how, when given a decorator’s full attention, a small
room, corner, nook or window seat can become a customer’s favorite, special