90 books like The Not So Big House

By Sarah Susanka, Kira Obolensky,

Here are 90 books that The Not So Big House fans have personally recommended if you like The Not So Big House. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Small Space Style: Because You Don't Need to Live Large to Live Beautifully

Erika Kotite Author Of She Sheds: A Room of Your Own

From my list on women who want to create their own personal space.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an English major turned magazine editor turned book author, with a longtime love of outbuildings. Sheds, carriage houses, studios, barns… I love them all. When I had the chance to do a book about she sheds I was thrilled. Now with two books about she sheds on the market, I’m busy running She Shed Living with my business partner. We design sheds for women throughout Southern California, sell our own line of exterior chalk-based paint, and offer resources and advice to women who want a room of their own.

Erika's book list on women who want to create their own personal space

Erika Kotite Why did Erika love this book?

She sheds are usually small spaces and everyone can relate to the challenges of creating beauty with limited resources. This smart book pays homage to living small and makes you see wonderful possibilities where none existed before. I love walking through Whitney’s charming “Tiny Canal Cottage” as she calls it, the 400-square-foot place she shares with her husband, young son, and two dogs in Venice, California. The table of contents isn’t satisfied with vague chapter titles – nope, you get numbered ideas (238!) that are specific and doable. I love #026, which shows you how to trade a coffee table for a shallow shelf behind the couch. Also handy are tricks to quickly turn your living room into a spare bedroom, or a dining room, or a home office, and then turn it back into a living space again. You’ll meet kindred spirits in the design realm who offer their…

By Whitney Leigh Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Small Space Style as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Interior design maven Whitney Leigh Morris makes living in under 400 square feet look elegant and effortless-even with a husband, baby, and two Beagles in the mix. In her debut book, Whitney shares her ideas and practices for making any tiny space efficient and stylish-whether it's a rustic A-frame in the woods or a chic microapartment in the city.

Featuring more than 200 tips for making the most of your little home, Small Space Style is the must-have, incredibly inspirational guide for living large in compact quarters. Join small space lifestyle expert Whitney Leigh Morris as she demonstrates how to…


Book cover of Country Living Tiny Homes: Living Big in Small Spaces

Laura Fenton Author Of The Little Book of Living Small

From my list on small space design.

Why am I passionate about this?

I know small spaces from first-hand experience. As a writer based in New York City, I have lived in a series of impossibly small spaces, including a 6’ x 8’ bedroom in an apartment with no living room and a teeny-tiny studio that was made livable by installing a Murphy bed. Today I live in less than 700 square feet with my husband and son. When I set out to write my own book, I wanted to inspire readers to make the most of their own small homes and discover the freedom that living small provides. I have an extensive personal library of books about small space design, but these five are my all-time favorites.

Laura's book list on small space design

Laura Fenton Why did Laura love this book?

Do not be deterred by the words “country” and “tiny” in this book’s title! This is a fantastic collection of small-ish homes that ran in the American edition of Country Living magazine. There are only a couple of actual tiny homes—most are more in the range of 1,000 or so feet. Likewise, very few of the homes are deeply “country” in style; instead, the overall look of the interiors is a fresh take on farmhouse style – with urban apartments and minimalist homes in the mix. The photography is beautiful, and there are so many homes included that this is a great value for its cover price.

By Country Living,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Country Living Tiny Homes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bigger isn't always better: Country Living offers a look inside more than 25 tiny homes that maximize function and style.

Downsizing has become a big trend--and many people are choosing to live small and smart in compact houses that don't require huge mortgages or upkeep. Country Living showcases a coast-to-coast collection of sustainable dwellings, all ranging from 100 to 1,500 square feet. Take an inside tour of these impressive little abodes, like a converted 1840s schoolhouse in New York, a 22- x 24-foot kit barn in California wine country, a 1914 New Hampshire coastal row home, and a renovated 1950s…


Book cover of Simple Matters: Living with Less and Ending Up with More

Laura Fenton Author Of The Little Book of Living Small

From my list on small space design.

Why am I passionate about this?

I know small spaces from first-hand experience. As a writer based in New York City, I have lived in a series of impossibly small spaces, including a 6’ x 8’ bedroom in an apartment with no living room and a teeny-tiny studio that was made livable by installing a Murphy bed. Today I live in less than 700 square feet with my husband and son. When I set out to write my own book, I wanted to inspire readers to make the most of their own small homes and discover the freedom that living small provides. I have an extensive personal library of books about small space design, but these five are my all-time favorites.

Laura's book list on small space design

Laura Fenton Why did Laura love this book?

This book is not specifically about small spaces, but it would be a valuable addition to any small-space library for its message of living with less and conscious consumption. I discovered Erin’s writing and her blog Reading My Tea Leaves when I was a new mom looking for examples of families choosing to live in small spaces. Erin’s book Simple Matters is one I turn back to whenever I need a fresh burst of inspiration to declutter, simplify, and embrace a slower style of home-keeping. Simple Matters is not a coffee table book, it is meant to be picked up and read. 

By Erin Boyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Simple Matters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Erin Boyle shares practical guidance and personal insights on small-space living and conscious consumption. At once pragmatic and philosophical, Simple Matters is a nod to the growing consensus that living simply and purposefully is more sustainable not only for the environment, but for our own happiness and well-being, too. Boyle embraces the notion that "living small" is beneficial and accessible to us all-whether we're renting a tiny apartment or purchasing a three-story house. Filled with personal essays, projects, and helpful advice on how to be inventive and resourceful in a tight space, Simple Matters shows that living simply is about…


Book cover of The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes

Laura Fenton Author Of The Little Book of Living Small

From my list on small space design.

Why am I passionate about this?

I know small spaces from first-hand experience. As a writer based in New York City, I have lived in a series of impossibly small spaces, including a 6’ x 8’ bedroom in an apartment with no living room and a teeny-tiny studio that was made livable by installing a Murphy bed. Today I live in less than 700 square feet with my husband and son. When I set out to write my own book, I wanted to inspire readers to make the most of their own small homes and discover the freedom that living small provides. I have an extensive personal library of books about small space design, but these five are my all-time favorites.

Laura's book list on small space design

Laura Fenton Why did Laura love this book?

There are dozens of small-space books that I could have chosen for decor inspiration, but this one from Monocle is a personal favorite, in part because the photos, while gorgeous, are not overly styled. It features homes from around the world, including many in Europe, and most are primary residences, not guest houses or weekend homes that often fill small-space books. Much like the magazine, this book opens with several thoughtful essays on what it means to live in a “cosy” space. With its linen cover and hefty size, it would make a great housewarming gift for anyone living in a small space.

By Monocle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This Monocle book tells us how to turn a house into a home. Both a practical guide and a great source of inspiration, The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes presents the interiors, furniture, and locations you need to know about along with portraits of the people who can make it happen. The Monocle Guide to Cosy Homes celebrates the durable and the meaningful through a collection of homes that tell a story. Most architecture and interior books show houses polished to perfection, manicured to the extent that it is hard to imagine anybody acually lives there: they seem to miss…


Book cover of The Beautiful Necessity

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Author Of Simple Rules: What the Oldtime Builders Knew

From my list on timeless architectural principles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a practicing architect, and an avid reader—in a variety of subjects and genres, not just architecture—I love finding patterns and connections between seemingly dissimilar phenomena. Patterns conform to principles, and principles are the fountainhead of wisdom that never runs dry. I will be the first to admit that, even after forty years of absorbing these and other kindred principles, I’m still far from consistent in applying them. And, like the others I cite, my own work suffers from that inconsistency. I commiserate with all architects who are similarly struggling to design buildings that exemplify even a few of the principles in these books. And that is why I chose them.

Shannon's book list on timeless architectural principles

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Why did Shannon love this book?

One of my favorite books, this hidden gem was, unfortunately, for the world—as the author feared it might—spurned because of his association with Theosophy. When I accidentally discovered it a few years ago I was floored by the deep historical and philosophical connections he makes throughout his essays on architecture. In the first short essay, he sketches two-line symbols in a progression, with tight little summaries epitomizing each of the past ages of architecture, that surprisingly paralleled Spengler’s chapters on architecture in Decline of the West. His grasp of mathematics and his novel thoughts on its application in architecture are equally concise and mind-bending. In one essay he offers an elegant proposal for a modern style of ornamentation based on a four-dimensional hyper-space model. Beautiful necessity, a phrase taken from an essay by Emerson, was for Bragdon the essence and purpose of architecture itself. 

By Claude Fayette Bragdon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Beautiful Necessity as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Beautiful Necessity-Seven Essays on Theosophy and Architecture is an art history classic by Claude Fayette Bragdon. One of the advantages of a thorough assimilation of what may be called the theosophic idea is that it can be applied with advantage to every department of knowledge and of human activity: like the key to a cryptogram it renders clear and simple that which before seemed intricate and obscure. Let us apply this key to the subject of art, and to the art of architecture in particular, and see if by so doing we may not learn more of art than…


Book cover of The Process of Creating Life: The Nature of Order, Book 2: An Essay of the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Author Of Simple Rules: What the Oldtime Builders Knew

From my list on timeless architectural principles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a practicing architect, and an avid reader—in a variety of subjects and genres, not just architecture—I love finding patterns and connections between seemingly dissimilar phenomena. Patterns conform to principles, and principles are the fountainhead of wisdom that never runs dry. I will be the first to admit that, even after forty years of absorbing these and other kindred principles, I’m still far from consistent in applying them. And, like the others I cite, my own work suffers from that inconsistency. I commiserate with all architects who are similarly struggling to design buildings that exemplify even a few of the principles in these books. And that is why I chose them.

Shannon's book list on timeless architectural principles

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Why did Shannon love this book?

Over his lifetime, Alexander’s controversial approach to architecture incited widespread criticism, yet it is precisely these unique and thought-provoking ideas that make The Nature of Order an essential read. Beyond his sometimes obscure writing style and lackluster built examples, Alexander's deep commitment to architecture as a complex layered system of patterns—an idea he first popularized in his hippy-architects bible, A Pattern Language—is still palpable in this four-volume magnum opus. 

I found the second volume, where he offers a guide for how to “create life” through patterns, most pertinent to this list. Here he distills his earlier work down to fifteen essential patterns that lead to architecture as a living structure. There is gold to be mined here, for those in search of some semblance of order in the chaotic current of modern architecture. 

By Christopher Alexander,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Process of Creating Life as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Christopher Alexander's masterwork, the result of 27 years of research, considers three vital perspectives: a scientific perspective; a perspective based on beauty and grace; a commonsense perspective based on our intuitions and everyday life.


Book cover of The Seven Lamps of Architecture

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Author Of Simple Rules: What the Oldtime Builders Knew

From my list on timeless architectural principles.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a practicing architect, and an avid reader—in a variety of subjects and genres, not just architecture—I love finding patterns and connections between seemingly dissimilar phenomena. Patterns conform to principles, and principles are the fountainhead of wisdom that never runs dry. I will be the first to admit that, even after forty years of absorbing these and other kindred principles, I’m still far from consistent in applying them. And, like the others I cite, my own work suffers from that inconsistency. I commiserate with all architects who are similarly struggling to design buildings that exemplify even a few of the principles in these books. And that is why I chose them.

Shannon's book list on timeless architectural principles

Shannon Taylor Scarlett Why did Shannon love this book?

Whenever I’m reading Ruskin, I feel like I’m overhearing a crusty old man’s rant. Some rants I love—when he talks about honesty in materials, or his in-depth thoughts on nature and light; some I question—demonizing cast iron facades; and others I disagree with—the necessity for obedience to God as an architect. And some of his ideas are so outdated, they’ve almost come back full circle. But the reason I included this older volume, is simply because Ruskin’s seven principles on architecture have withstood the test of time.

By John Ruskin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Seven Lamps of Architecture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"I believe architecture must be the beginning of arts, and that the others must follow her in their time and order; and I think the prosperity of our schools of painting and sculpture, in which no one will deny the life, though many the health, depends upon that of our architecture." — John Ruskin.
In August of 1848, John Ruskin and his new bride visited northern France, for the gifted young critic wished to write a work that would examine the essence of Gothic architecture. By the following April, the book was finished. Titled The Seven Lamps of Architecture, it…


Book cover of Architecture: Form, Space, & Order

Antony Radford Author Of The Elements of Modern Architecture: Understanding Contemporary Buildings

From my list on analysing architecture.

Why am I passionate about this?

My passion as a teacher and writer is to help students and others interpret, understand and enjoy architecture and the built environment, and to help them respond in their own designs to the complexities of place, people, and construction. I have chosen five well-established books on analysing architecture that are highly illustrated, avoid jargon, can be explored rather than needing to be read sequentially cover-to-cover, and have lasting value. They offer guidance for beginning students and a checklist for the experienced. They are books to be kept handy and repeatedly consulted. Of course, analysing existing architecture is invaluable in designing new architecture. I hope you enjoy them.

Antony's book list on analysing architecture

Antony Radford Why did Antony love this book?

In one of the most popular books published on form and composition in architecture, Francis Ching examines basic elements of form and space (edges, corners, planes, etc.) and strategies for their organisation (axes, grids, symmetry, etc).

Like Baker, he includes approach, entry, and movement through built form.

The examples are taken from contemporary and historical buildings. The text is short and the diagrams plentiful.

Ching has also written good books on basic ideas in building structure and construction, both helpful in analysing buildings beyond form and space.

By Francis D. K. Ching,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Architecture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The revered architectural reference, updated with contemporary examples and interactive 3D models The Interactive Resource Center is an online learning environment where instructors and students can access the tools they need to make efficient use of their time, while reinforcing and assessing their understanding of key concepts for successful understanding of the course. An access card with redemption code for the online Interactive Resource Center is included with all new, print copies or can be purchased separately. (***If you rent or purchase a used book with an access code, the access code may have been redeemed previously and you may…


Book cover of On Altering Architecture

Graeme Brooker Author Of 50/50 Words for Reuse: A Minifesto

From my list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Graeme Brooker is a Professor and Head of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art London. He has written and published fifteen books on the histories and theories of inside spaces, many of which focus on the reuse of existing artefacts, buildings, and cities. Apart from teaching and writing, when he isn’t cycling, he is often staring intently at the sea in Brighton, where he currently lives.

Graeme's book list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings

Graeme Brooker Why did Graeme love this book?

On Altering Architecture belongs to a small and unique collection of publications that are involved in distinguishing the discipline of working with existing buildings. In the book, Scott constructs an inspired argument for the understanding of the significance of environmental design disciplines such as Interior design and installation art. The book is divided into twelve chapters, each an essay on reuse and overlapping disciplines. 

Each chapter is full of insightful and interesting case studies, expertly analysed and explained. On Altering Architecture is an absorbing and fascinating book that is packed with ideas, witty asides, mischievous digressions, and provocative thoughts. In parts the tone of the book is conversational, in others authoritative, each blends seamlessly into each other providing a compelling read. 

By Fred Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On Altering Architecture as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bringing together interior design and architectural theory, this exciting text looks at the common practices of building alteration, reconsidering established ideas and methods, to initiate the creation of a theory of the interior or interventional design.

Fred Scott examines in-depth case studies of interventional design from architectural history across the world - examples discussed are taken from the States, Europe and Japan. Scott expands and builds on the ideas of Viollet-le-Duc, structuralism and other thoughts to layout criteria for an art of intervention and change. The book draws on the philosophy of conservation, preservation and restoration, as well as exploring…


Book cover of The Interior Architecture Theory Reader

Graeme Brooker Author Of 50/50 Words for Reuse: A Minifesto

From my list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings.

Why am I passionate about this?

Graeme Brooker is a Professor and Head of Interior Design at the Royal College of Art London. He has written and published fifteen books on the histories and theories of inside spaces, many of which focus on the reuse of existing artefacts, buildings, and cities. Apart from teaching and writing, when he isn’t cycling, he is often staring intently at the sea in Brighton, where he currently lives.

Graeme's book list on interior architecture and reuse of buildings

Graeme Brooker Why did Graeme love this book?

This book provides a compelling survey of the range of emerging work underpinning the development of the histories, theories, processes, and practices of interior architecture. Its diverse range of contributors and topics outlines a through survey of this new discipline. The book is varied in its scope and content. Start here for a thorough introduction to the fundamental issues surrounding the discipline.

By Gregory Marinic (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Interior Architecture Theory Reader as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Interior Architecture Theory Reader presents a global compilation that collectively and specifically defines interior architecture. Diverse views and comparative resources for interior architecture students, educators, scholars, and practitioners are needed to develop a proper canon for this young discipline. As a theoretical survey of interior architecture, the book examines theory, history, and production to embrace a full range of interior identities in architecture, interior design, digital fabrication, and spatial installation. Authored by leading educators, theorists, and practitioners, fifty chapters refine and expand the discourse surrounding interior architecture.


5 book lists we think you will like!

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