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New Urbanism: A residential trend on display in Sarah Susanka's Libertyville showhouse


According to, new urbanism “promotes the creation and restoration of diverse, walkable, compact, vibrant, mixed-use communities composed of the same components as conventional development, but assembled in a more integrated fashion, in the form of complete communities.”

Perhaps no one has championed the benefits of New Urbanist construction like architect Sarah Susanka, author of the best-selling Not So Big book series that celebrates the smaller, more practical home without compromising quality.

This week marks the grand opening of Susanka’s Not So Big Showhouse in Libertyville, Ill., a northern suburb of Chicago. The 2,500-square-foot house emphasizes functionality and multipurpose spaces. For instance, there’s no formal dining room. (Who actually uses them anyway?) There’s a large front porch before floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the neighborhood. There are no cathedral ceilings to be found and energy efficiency is a top consideration. There is no excess to be found — every room has its role.

The house also includes the special Marvin window Susanka designed as part of the myMarvin Artist Project.

Susanka’s Not So Big Showhouse is a part of the SchoolStreet housing development in downtown Libertyville, a new urbanist neighborhood that promotes a strong sense of community. So much so that most of the homes feature kitchens positioned toward the front of the house, inviting homeowners to eat and socialize on the front porch rather than be secluded in the back.

On Thursday, Susanka will appear at Libertyville High School to present her home, answer questions and sign books. On Saturday, Susanka’s Not So Big Showhouse will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The house is located at 138 School Street in Libertyville.

For more information, visit the SchoolStreet website.