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Minimal to the max
Santa Rosa architect helps Ukiah couple live large, making most of small home

  • Santa Rosa architect Mark Perry redesigned the Ukiah home of Victoria Golden and Alfred White, including a new fireplace in the family room. (TAUNTON PRESS)

They have to admit, as shallow as it seems, they were first attracted to the house solely by its surface looks. A cute little vintage cottage in Ukiah, it had great curb appeal, sitting coyly behind its white picket fence.

Victoria Golden and Alfred White were both in their 50s and their kids were grown. They didnt need a ton of space. But still, the 1,000-square-foot Victorian cottage didnt live up to its potential inside.

Thats when Mark Parry stepped in. The Santa Rosa architect has long been involved in the Not So Big House movement, ignited 11 years ago by Sarah Susanka, a British-born architect who was among the first to openly question the bigger is better mindset overtaking Americas housing industry.

Parry, like Susanka, believes that small homes can be as or even more comfortable than large homes if theyre carefully designed to make the best use of space without sacrificing beauty.

Goldens house is included in Susankas newest book, Not So Big Remodeling (Taunton Press; 2009), which shows how to make do with the square footage you have resorting to minimal, if any, add-ons.

All I wanted was a kitchen remodel. But he started describing things that we could do and it just opened our eyes to a whole new concept of this house ... I just wanted a little place and it ended up being my dream house, Golden says.

Parry maximized thesquare footage by opening up the living room to the kitchen, moving the fireplace and creating a multipurpose entryway that doubles as a library with attractive shelving for Goldens many books.

What you want to do is tailor the house around the way you want to live. Think about how you can multitask and group uses and custom design spaces to meet your needs, says Parry, whose clever innovations included making the den also serve as a guest bedroom thanks to a bump-out window that contains not a window seat but a double bed, freeing floor space.

Susanka said people have been asking her to apply her space efficiency philosophy to remodeling ever since she came out with The Not So Big House in 1998.

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