Pioneers of Small Living: Sarah Susanka

Pioneers of Small Living: Sarah Susanka

Lauren Zerbey
Apr 28, 2011

It's been over 10 years since Sarah Susanka wrote her first best-selling book, The Not So Big House. Since then, she's published eight more books which expand on her small living philosophy, including those dedicated to remodeling, landscaping and even how to live a "not so big" life.

Susanka is a licensed architect, but has spent the last decade focusing on writing and speaking events. Her mantra of "build better, not bigger" has had wide-spread influence and garnered legions of fans who are embracing this different way of thinking. During the economic slump and housing crisis of the last several years, the ideas are even more prevalent. Aside from financial reasons, Sarah advocates that swapping size for quality is the first step in meeting our sustainable goals – a move that she believes is not just better for the planet but for our own well-being.

In addition to the physical realm of our built environments, Susanka has taken the "not so big" idea and applied it to how we inhabit our own lives, a philosophy that was born from the author's own life journey of slowing down and focusing on living in the moment. And Susanka has a good point – what is the value in simplifying our homes if our lives remain cluttered, unmanageable and over committed? In her book, The Not So Big Life, the same "not so big" ideas that apply to architecture are translated to how we inhabit our own lives, emphasizing that small and subtle changes (in lieu of drastic measures) are all that is needed.

Susanka believes that there is an underlying connection between this philosophy and green living and takes it beyond the products we choose or furniture we buy. In fact, during a recent speaking event, Sarah advised that "being 'in the moment' and going after your heart's desire is the most sustainable act anyone can perform."

To see the complete book collection, visit the Not So Big website.


(Images: Sarah Susanka)

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