The up-front kitchen configuration - Sarah Susanka, Susanka Studios

Sarah Susanka's latest Not So Big House project places the kitchen and eating area adjacent to the front porch, making the outdoor space a natural extension of the kitchen’s habitable area.

By Sarah Susanka, FAIA, founder, Susanka Studios | July 24, 2012

Note: The plans and photos shown here are of the Not So Big Showhouse at SchoolStreet in Libertyville, Ill., a bungalow-inspired New Urban community of 26 single-family homes being built on a previously foreclosed property. For more, visit



Most American homes have their primary living spaces — the ones used every day — focused on the back yard, away from the street. We’re gradually coming to appreciate, however, that an over-emphasis on personal privacy can also create an unintended sense of isolation. Buyers are more open to considering the benefits of connection to the street and to neighbors, as long as there is still plenty of private outdoor space. When lots are narrow and access to daylight is limited — as are often the case in denser neighborhoods — the front of the house is both lighter and cheerier because of the wide-open street beyond.


In this house, the front porch is on the south side, which allows daylight to stream in all day long. By placing the kitchen and eating area adjacent to the front porch, this readily accessible outdoor space becomes a natural extension of the kitchen’s habitable area.
It was interesting to listen to visitors to the showhouse as they took in this up-front kitchen feature.

Even the skeptical became believers as soon as they stepped inside the house. The kitchen pulled them in, and its bright informality with access to the outdoors instantly sold them on the idea. If the goal is a stronger sense of community, this is a powerful and delightful shift away from convention and toward livability and neighborliness.


Sarah Susanka, FAIA
Susanka Studios


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