My Afternoon with Sarah Susanka

Posted on May 8th, 2012 by

I am just now reporting on my “Afternoon with Sarah Susanka”!  Neglected my “blogging” duty ….

Architect and Innovator Sarah Susanka brings “Not So Big” Message as a featured speaker on the Home Show Stage, March 23, at Bartle Hall.

In the rain, huddling under overhangs, I managed to get into Bartle and up the escalator to the exhibition hall.  I found the little stage, Spaces Magazine sponsored and even visited with Zim Loy & Chad Parkhurst from Spaces.  Was fun!

Sarah Susanka, an architect, had found it frustrating to have to tell clients time and again that “big” can cost a lot of money.  Then she listed ideas that provide the real deal – really good design – things Design Build Team does – things I have written about.  Was really fun!

  • Point of focus (my Vista idea) – every room needs to have something to walk toward – a window, a painting.  Rooms need to open to one another through some design element that indicates the transition. Trained architects and designers can “see” those things while designing it, before it is built.
  • Lower ceilings in hallways – makes house seem bigger paradoxically.  We designed this in the new house now under construction in DeSoto, KS
  • Varied ceiling heights and soffits (usually dropped ceiling areas especially in kitchens – can carry duct work in them).  In our own home the kitchen has a flat ceiling with light cans & pendants(and soffits) whereas the family room on one side and dining room on the other have vaulted ceilings.
  • Spatial experience:  Release a 5 year old child and see where he goes – to a small, safe-feeling place for a sense of protection – thus varied ceiling heights!
  • Skylights bring in light to a space but when placed next to a wall, they double the light through reflection, also make a new design element on the wall!
  • 3-dimensional design – value an architect can bring – I live in one and have another one in Colorado!
  • Remodels and additions – consider the original footprint of the house first!  Then consider a small bump-out.  Last option is a full room addition with a foundation under it.  Think about your neighborhood – what will look good in comparison with the other houses?  Think about it.
  • One of her last points I really LOVED and have experienced!  Appraisal value – Really good design and design details and elements make a house easier to sell, not harder!  When we refinanced our house last year, the appraiser LOVED it – appraised it SO high we couldn’t believe it!  (Unfortunately, when appraisers just read plans – don’t see our finished work – they often don’t get it!)

After her talk, I asked her to sign one of her books for a client of ours and had a nice visit.  Since then, we have joined her Home Professionals Directory at Design Build Team is under the Design-Build heading.


– Merejo Dussair, Design Build Team, Inc.

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