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The Not So Big House

This house, straight out of the pages of Sarah Susanka’s wildly popular Not-So-Big®House book series, is a classic that lives large while being on the smaller side. Originally designed as a Southern Victorian home, we made a few changes to accommodate the owner’s lifestyle, and create a more classic Northern version of the home for the era.


The owners were interested in downsizing and were attracted to the Not-So-Big®House philosophy. The floor plan they saw in one of Sarah Susanka’s books spoke to them and a lot in an older neighborhood of Northville became available, perfect for a Victorian era home. The owners also wanted a home that would be a model of sustainability. Working with Meadowlark, they sought to build a home that could fit in a turn-of-the-century neighborhood, while attaining a LEED Platinum designation.

The Team

Design & Architecture:  Moser Design Group and Meadowlark Builders

Project Manager: Meadowlark Project Management Team


Schematic Design

Minor modifications were made to the original plan for a mudroom that could accommodate the needs of their rescue dogs. Their goal was to transform the home from a Southern Victorian to one that worked in a Northern climate.

  • Door and ceiling heights were lowered on the inside, while the transoms were removed to make the home open yet cozy for a colder climate
  • Exterior detailing and materials were adapted to the styles of Northern Victorian homes
  • A basement was added, typical of Northern homes
  • A dutch door was added to the mudroom with a dog cleaning and feeding area that was made with durable and easily cleanable materials

Design Development

The construction methods of the house would need to be completely re-thought in order to attain a lofty LEED Platinum status. A garage was added with a breezeway, made in the style of a small barn with a lean-to addition, perfect for the Victorian appeal of the home.

  • The home was designed to use a Superior Walls foundation system
  • Thermally broken rigid foam exterior walls along with Advanced Framing Techniques were planned for a high R-value and a tight house envelope
  • Geothermal heating and cooling were added, along with a water-efficient plumbing system
  • The garage and exterior were designed to take advantage of the deep lot that would give their dogs space to run

The Results

When in the home, it is hard to believe it is under 2300 square feet. Utilizing exterior living areas, long diagonal sight lines, and open spaces that remain cozy and defined; the home lives like a home that is over 3000 square feet. Efficient and healthy, the home achieved a LEED Platinum certification, a testament to the owners desire to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

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