The New American Dream: Living Well in Small Homes

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9781580931472: The New American Dream: Living Well in Small Homes

Simplicity, modesty, and skillful design are the principles that have guided James Gauer both in his architecture practice and in the selection of the seventeen outstanding projects featured in this unique compilation of small homes by architects from around the country. A range of housing types and settings -- from a diminutive New York City apartment to a farmhouse in Pennsylvania, a cottage in Santa Monica, and a single-family home in Nashville -- illustrates a variety of architectural styles and design solutions that have transformed these small spaces into comfortable, stylish, and cost- and energy-efficient residences.

More than just a how-to style guide, The New American Dream traces the history of home building in America and offers readers an understanding of how house sizes and costs have soared -- and why they shouldn't. In clear prose, Gauer lays out the virtues of living in small, skillfully designed dwellings, with chapters that address proportion, scale, light, and modesty, among other topics.

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About the Author:

James Gauer practices architecture in New York City, where small living spaces are inevitable. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Architectural Record, House Beautiful, House & Garden, Interior Design, and elsewhere.

Photographer Catherine Tighe's work has appeared in magazines such as Architectural Record, Dwell, Metropolitan Home, and Interior Design. Her recent books include House, Architecture Now, New American Cottage, New American Townhouse, and Loft.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

FROM THE FIRST CHAPTER

We need never pine for larger quarters if we remember this: home is not a self-contained world but a toehold in a larger world. We don’t just live in our houses and apartments. We live in houses and apartments on streets in neighborhoods in communities in towns and in cities. The porch, the front stoop, the sidewalk, the street, the square and the park expand the confines of home beyond the enclosed space of the house or apartment and into the open space of the public realm. The private home is just the smallest in a series of concentric units. Seen in this context, how large does it need to be?

FROM THE FINAL CHAPTER

The art of living well is not necessarily a simple thing. Yet it seems to thrive in a simple setting. If it is true that a rich man is as likely to enter the kingdom of heaven, as is a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, there are two corollary truths. First, a gracious and comfortable life is more likely to flourish in a small and simple home than in a large and elaborate one. Small dwellings are more likely to have the straightforward ease and authenticity that make a gracious home.

The second corollary truth is this: Human beings are more likely to be happy in spaces of human scale. Modest households of good design and simple elegance can bring great pleasure and satisfaction. The scale of our homes should derive from the real needs of our daily lives, not from vanity, insecurity or a need for public display. Home should be the setting for life, not the measure of it.

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