Name that Author! A Giveaway

June 4th, 2009

I am going to have dinner with one of my heroes!

Well… not just me. There will be lots and lots of other people there too, but I will be one of the other people!

The person I am going to dine with is an acclaimed architect and author of a series of beautifully photographed books that changed the way America looks at home building. I spent hours of my life mesmerized by the content, the photos and the house plans in each of these books and I drew immeasurable inspiration from them as I planned my own house. The author of these books popularized the phrase ‘McMansion’ pointing out that instead of building bigger and bigger and bigger houses, wouldn’t it be far more intelligent to build smarter? The books show you how to design a house that maximizes every square inch. It shows you how to design rooms that have more than one use and to avoid ‘museum rooms’. This author created the ‘away room’ the place that every house needs to escape the general bedlam. This author insists on the proper siting of your home for the best natural light, on interior views that make small spaces seem larger, and on built-ins that are not only charming, but functional as well.

These books forced me to trim, cut, smoosh, and do away with things I didn’t really need when I designed our home. This author changed how I thought about houses and I built a much better home as a result.

If you can name the author of whom I write, I will enter your name into a drawing for a special autographed copy of one of her… I mean… uh… the author’s books.

I will have a few more autographed copies of ‘this author’s books’ to give away later, but this particular giveaway is for the architecture junkies… or at least for the ones that are capable of a good google search.

Comments will be not be published until the contest is over so no cheating can take place.

Not that anyone would of course.

Contest ends Friday June 5th 2009, at 10:00 PM


  • I’m guessing you’re talking about Sarah Susanka of “The Not so Big House”. But I believe Jay Westervelt actually gets credit for the term “McMansion”….

    • Rechelle:

      Really? Well I changed my wording a bit to reflect this new info. Thanks for telling me.

  • Barb:

    Sarah Susanka is going to be my guess. She has some great ideas.

  • Corinne:

    Is it Sarah Susanka?

  • Amy Cook in WI:

    Hi Rechelle:

    I, too, have enjoyed following Sarah Susanka. Enjoy her lecture tomorrow night.


  • Margo:

    Alex Bogusky

  • Margaret:

    Ha! I’m a good google searcher. These books sound interesting. She’s Sarah Susanka. If she had anything to do with helping out in terms of inspiring you when you were doing your house, then she must be good. I love your house!

  • Is it Sarah Susanka?

  • Orghlaith:

    Sarah Susanka ?

  • Marilyn:

    Is it Sarah Susanka of the “Not So Big” books? Really enjoy your blog, by the way.

  • martina:

    Tracy Kidder who wrote the book House? I remember it is where I learned what muttons and mullions were. It was about a new homeowner’s first time experiences in home construction.

  • Okay. Here’s my guess: Robert Venturi. Am I right?

  • Kat:

    Sarah Susanka? Love her thinking and her books!

  • I would never cheat. If I did, what would Gale Steves think of me? (Probably what she should: that, of course, I’m a cheater.)

  • gina:

    julia christenson?

  • Pam:

    After a little research I figured out who the mystery author is. Sarah Susanka. Then I immediately went online and reserved four of her books at the library. They look fascinating. I love anything to do with house design and architecture.

  • Sarah H.:

    Sarah Susanka?

    (I hope my house is not a McMansion)

  • Nancy in PA:

    Sarah Susanka. I will not and will never have a museum room/house. My husband’s aunts actually DO have them with furniture covered in plastic…GAH! Have a great time!!

  • caren:

    I has to be Sarah Susanka, my friend was telling me about a book called “The Not So Big Life: Making Room for What Really Matters”. And it sounds like what you are talking about.

  • marewood:

    How about Sarah Susanka? Loved your photographs of old homes. I saw a post about the houses being in Leavenworth. My father was stationed at Ft Leavenworth and we lived in a wonderful old home built in the 1800′s and lived next the former home of the territorial governor of Kansas – all on Sumner Place- a street around the old parade grounds. Hope you enjoy your dinner.

  • Susan:

    is it Sarah Susanka?

  • I have no idea. I could google it, but I’m feeling lazy. I just worked a 12 hour day with no breaks or even a lunch…and I’m plum worn out. But, yet, here I am, visiting a few of my favorite bloggers.

  • Sarah in NM:

    Is it Sarah Susanka?

    On behalf of teachers everywhere, thanks for sponsoring literacy.

  • Fran:

    Could it be Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House? I really like her ideas on home design. How cool that you are having dinner with one of your heroes!

  • I’m guessing Sarah Susanka.

  • Cheryl:

    Sarah Susanaka. We would love a good architecture book!

  • Hallie:

    Sarah Susanka, author of “The Not so Big House”

  • You’re having dinner with Sarah Susanka?! We want pictures taken with your “Not So Big” camera. :)

  • DirtyKSmama:

    Sarah Susanka “Not So Big House”

    Have fun in Topeka!

  • Hello Rechelle,
    I had seen/read most of a book by this lady from the library, if it is who I think you mean. Susan Saranka, I had to look up her last name though I could not remember it for the life of me!! Not So Big House. I am looking forward to reading Not SO Big Remodeling. When my husband retires in 4 years I am hoping we will be able to redo our kitchen. Heck I am hoping we can stay in our house, and the property taxes do not eat up his half pension he will be on! HA!


  • Jay Westerveld

  • Sarah Susanka :)

  • Vanessa:

    Sarah Susanka? I love her philosophy!

  • Erin in Holton:

    Sarah Susanka – LOVE her books – I’m jealous, where do you get to meet her? I just read a bunch of her stuff because we recently bought 115 acres (crazy, I know) and will be having my dad design us a house here one of these years…

  • Tracy B:

    It’s Sarah Susanka, author of “The Not so Big House” and other titles.

  • Gah! No idea! No. idea.

    Does that count?

  • Sarah Susanka

    yes- it’s definitely about googling, isn’t it? but she sound very interesting, and i’m intreauged after reading your review!

  • Jill:

    Is it Sarah Susanska?

  • Deb C.:

    Sarah Susanka – love her books!

  • kristinrose24:

    Sarah Susanka?

  • Angie:

    Okay, I should probably be excluded since you just sent me a book! (Thank you, BTW!). But I feel compelled to enter because my parents are considering building a new house and I was just talking to my mom about Sarah Susanka’s books–I don’t have one to loan her, since I checked them out from the library, so I suppose I could loan her one if I won. That’s my rationalization about being greedy.

    And my favorite architectural detail is window seats. If we ever get to build our own house, it will be all window seats. :-)

  • jamoody:

    When I googled who coined the phrase McMansion, your blog was the second thing that came up….I thought that was funny….you were right behind Wikipedia.

  • Darla (McIntosh) Schmalzried:

    Sarah Susanka? Enjoy your dinner!

  • Sarah Suzanka? Oh lucky you! I adore her thought process.
    Well I would. I live in a 1500 sq ft and every foot used cozy home, emphasis on home:)

  • Sarah Susanka of the Not So Big House series.

  • Sarah Susanka of the Not So Big House series

  • Jessica Kerrigan:

    Must be Sarah Susanka, author of The Not So Big House.

  • Jennifer:

    Hi there,

    The author is Sarah Susanka.

  • Melissa M:

    Sarah Susanka

  • sherry:

    Susan Susanka. Enjoy the dinner, it sounds like fun!

  • marcia:

    i guess Elizabeth Wilhide; she has her name on so many books; her bohemian or makintosh style captured my mind today.

  • Catherine A.:

    SARAH SUSANKA. Here’s my guess. Even if I’m really wrong, I would love to hear about some of the decisions you made in “smooshing” your house down and what affect that has had on your living: good or bad.


  • P.j.:

    Sarah Susankah! How way cool!
    I have been drooling over her books for as long as she has been writing them. While my 1240 sq.ft., 1 bathroom, 113 year old brick home qualifies as a not-so-big house, it will never look as delightful as her homes.

    Take care, p.j.
    p.s. I loved your photos of the beautiful old homes in your family’s neighborhood earlier this week.

  • Sounds like an interesting book! I have no idea who “it ” is but would be fun to win.

  • Lois:

    Sarah Susanka. I love, love, love that book.

  • Wendy Krueth:

    Was it Michelle Kaufman? Hope so :-) Thanks for doing a contest…

  • Peggy in TN:

    Sarah Susanka? And I TOTALLY agree that bigger is not always better. Most of the time it is just a waste of energy!

  • mimi:

    Sarah Susanka

  • My guess is Jackie Craven.
    When I was younger I spent hours drawing house plans; I even took an architecture class in high school; but it was not to be. But I still like looking at houses and layouts and styles. Your earlier post on different house was beautiful. I wonder if I could have a multi-faceted home – adobe on one side, country farmhouse with porch on the other, cottage on the other, and then maybe brick on the other side; anything but that basic 1970s ranch style I am in right now!

  • Leslie:

    So…my connection quit on me when I was commenting earlier today and I am not sure if it went through or not. If it did, and this is a duplicate, please forgive me.

    The author’s name is Sarah Susanka.

  • egraham:

    Ooo, I love Sarah Susanka! She’s one of my heroes too!

  • OMG. I am SO jealous. I worship the ground Sarah Susanka walks on and have read every single one of her books. And I try VERY hard to follow what she says. Altho, sometimes, her NOT SO BIG houses tend to be…well…BIG in my estimation. She also highlights one of my FAVORITEST architects ever in the whole wide world: Ross Chapin. Have you been to his site Rechelle? Seriously? I want the little itty bitty cottages. I could do that. I could live like that,except I would have to have another one to house my books…but anyway…have you googled (I’m sure you have) the Small House Movement and the Pallet House and blah blah blah…but I can’t wait to hear about your dinner with her!! Wow. I’ll shut up now.

  • Melissa:

    Well, I know that i am a half an hour late, but I do know the answer without doing a google search-sarah Susanka is a hero of mine as well. I love her books and actually kept my Mom’s copies as we built our new house. Mom has asked about the books, but I haven’t been willing to part with them yet. Have fun at the dinner! I’m envious!

  • I made a mistake above.. I said another last name Saranka, I meant Susanka. Sarah Susanka.

  • Sarah Susanka! Love her books! Lucky you to hear her speak in person!

  • Lori:

    Forgot my email on the above comment

  • Jay Westervelt:

    Mcmansion was coined in 1987 in the “East End Windmill”