On School Street in Libertyville, Illinois, something special is happening. The SchoolStreet Development, a new residential community located in the heart of vibrant, downtown Libertyville (about 30 minutes north of Chicago), is about to officially become the home of designer and architect Sarah Susanka’s Not So Big Showhouse. Perhaps you’ve read one of Sarah’s 12 home design books.
SchoolStreet opened its doors to buyers just over a year ago and in that time broker M.J. Seiler, owner of CENTURY 21 Kreuser & Seiler, and his team sold 21 of the 26 units. When asked what makes this development special, Seiler said, “SchoolStreet is a unique enclave of single family, detached bungalow influenced house designs in a walkable, front porch community connected to downtown Libertyville. This housing project is like none other I have ever seen.”
Check out this video on why developments like SchoolStreet are increasing community building and decreasing our carbon footprint:
The development is about to become home not to just new residents, but also a home design revolution. On Saturday November 19th, SchoolStreet will become the official home of the Not So Big Showhouse, a Sarah Susanka creation.
When we asked Sarah how she became involved with SchoolStreet, she explained, “I had been wanting to form a partnership with a developer to show home buyers and owners what “Not So Big” is all about in a real way, not just in photographs (like in my books). I went to Chicago in May 2010 for a builder show and was connected to developers behind SchoolStreet. As soon as I learned what they were about, I knew this was it. I knew the SchoolStreet team really understood quality. Once I actually set foot in Libertyville I knew that not only was the development perfect, but the community was perfect. It was better than my wildest dreams.”
Sarah went on to say, “The goal with the Showhouse is to have people walk through the house and understand that we aren’t encouraging people to live in teeny houses, we are encouraging them to make better, multi-purpose use of their space. We are designing homes that support the way people actually live.” She continued, “When Rick Davidson came to visit, he totally got it. In fact, he and his wife are looking for a smaller, better designed house.”
We asked Sarah what visitors should pay special attention to when touring the Showhouse. Her list:
The Porch – Notice how the kitchen/eating area is up front next to the front porch. The reason for that is if the main living space isn’t adjacent to the porch, you won’t use it, you tend to forget it’s there. We are trying to move living space back toward the street, toward the community.
The Ceilings – Instead of using walls to separate rooms, we use changes in ceiling levels to differentiate space. You still have a sense of delineation, but you can see from one space to another easily.
Spaces That Do Double Duty – Many of the spaces in the house function in multiple ways. The kitchen/eating area is the primary eating space, but it can also serve as a formal dining room. The kitchen is hidden behind a raised counter, making it easy to separate the cooking and hosting space. You can lift the table and move into the library alcove, which can extend all the way across the living room. Then it becomes a whole different kind of room. As another example, the “away” room serves multiple functions: an in-home office, an extra TV, kids can play video games, and you can also have it be a place of quiet retreat. In addition, in this house, it’s also a guest bedroom with a fold down bed. It’s a bit like a Transformer!
Excited to see the Showhouse for yourself? You have two opportunities to meet Sarah this week:
Thursday, November 17th, 6:00pm – 8:00pm – Sarah will host a public program and book signing at Libertyville High School
Saturday, November 19th, 9:00am – 4:00pm – The Not So Big Showhouse is open to the public!
If you attend either event, please comment below with your thoughts on the Showhouse!