the Not So Big House: diagonal views

“To increase the perceived size of a house,

you can arrange a space so that you can look along the diagonal,

from one corner to the opposite one,

which makes the space feel larger than it actually is.” 

Susan Susanka 


A key design concept of Creating the Not So Big House is to be intentional about horizontal views. Sightlines!

A sightline I hadn’t considered when entering our first built home was that I would be staring right at the kitchen nook through the main doors. Cute as they are, I don’t want Girl Guides to see me eating my spaghetti when they come to the front door.

Geometry says that the hypotenuse of a right triangle is its longest side. When we use this dimension in home design, we increase the perceived size of the house–clearly Susanka’s observation; mine rarely includes math analogies.

When you have views that run the length of the house, through to the backyard, you have a view that appears to go on and on. It suggests spaciousness, even when the space isn’t that large.

Even if you can’t build the ideal length of a ‘hypotenusal’ space, you can arrange your furniture so that you can look along the diagonal–from one corner to the opposite corner. Whether the house is large or not, it will feel larger.

Open design is common these days because there’s breathing space.