Thursday, July 16, 2009

Review: Good House Cheap House by Kira Obolensky

The 27 homes in Good House Cheap House prove that good design doesn't have to cost a fortune. What goes into making a good, cheap house? As writer Kira Obolensky discovers, there are three main ingredients: adventuresome homeowners who are actively involved; cutting-edge architects and designers who can solve tough design challenges; and an array of innovative uses of materials. Industrial bridge washers make for gorgeous mantelpiece rosettes, old concrete subflooring is given new life with rich-hued stain, and glass sliding doors make for windows that are oversized and affordable. From a Texas farmhouse to a loft in St. Paul, to a prefab cabin on the Wisconsin prairie, these houses, in which anyone would feel at home, display a wonderful mix of design smarts and budget savvy.

Some of the houses featured in the book may have a low per square foot cost, but many are very large (in excess of 3,000 square feet) which I think really defeats the purpose of the book. There are some moderately sized homes as well, which proves that you don't need to live in a closet to have an inexpensively built home.

Ikea appears to be the go-to place for cheap kitchen cabinets and bookshelves as many of the homeowners used them. It was nice to see Ikea products used, it made the homes seem less like a design book and more "normal". There were also lots of great ideas such as using stained plywood - who knew?

This one gets seven stars. While it did provide beautiful photographs of both the interiors and exteriors of the featured homes, there were no floorplans offered and it felt as if something were vaguely missing. The accompanying text was descriptive and interesting. All in all, though, it was an interesting book and provides the DIY reader with a variety of ideas.

Rating: ★★★★★★★☆☆☆


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