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2010 - Volume 1 Issue 1
Casas Bonitas
Design Library
Reviews: Charlotte Tallman
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Outside the Not So Big House:
Creating the Landscape of Home

 -By Julie Moir Messervy
  and Sarah Susanka

  ISBN# 978-1-56158-734-6

Outside the Not So Big House: Creating the Landscape of a Home, from landscape designer Julie Moir Messervy and architect Sarah Susanka, brings a fresh look and a revolutionary approach to creating an integrated home and landscape design, but don’t let the title fool you! Whether your house is big or small, you can find tons of great information in this book.

    Both of these reviewed books are available from and booksellers everywhere.
Using stunning photography, the book highlights 20 examples of diverse homes set in landscapes of varying sizes from around the U.S. The authors, both professionals in their own field and contributors to numerous books, show how to remove traditional design barriers between the home and surroundings to produce a combined design for living.

The book focuses on why a home should have a good design that fits their needs and how to get that design by focusing on four categories including Embracing the Habitat of the Home, Composing Journeys, Linking the Inside Out and Crafting the Elements of Nature. Within each category, the authors describe how the “Not So Big” concepts (first highlighted in Sarah’s book The Not So Big House) come up inside and outside of the home.

Sean Conway's Cultivating Life
125 Projects for Backyard Living

 -By Sean Conway and Lee Alan Buttala
 -Photographs by Webb Chappell

  ISBN# 978-1-56158-734-6

Have you ever wanted to grow your own herbs, build your own birdhouse or dispose of your kitchen and garden waste in your own compost bin? Have you ever wanted to see your backyard take on a new role? If you want to step through your back door into a whole new world, Sean Conway’s Cultivating Life is the book for you.

Based on the popular television series of the same name, Sean Conway and Lee Alan Buttala offer a wide variety of ways to enhance outdoor space, pairing each idea with detailed instructions and beautiful photography by Webb Chappell.

The book focuses on building and crafting; gardening, food and drink, and offers ideas on ordinary projects ranging from cutting roses to building a doghouse. Among the more than 100 projects, Cultivating Life also highlights unusual projects like building and planting a portable salad table and creating milk glass luminaries.

“With this book, I hope that I can... provide some advice and inspiration for you, whether you are trying to grow vegetables organically, attract birds to your backyard, or create an outdoor kitchen that will become the cornerstone of your family’s memories,” Conway says in the book.

The Best of Home Improvement on the Web

Home Improvement can seem like a daunting task to a lot of people, but it doesn’t always have to be. Whether replacing a toilet or making changes for energy efficiency, do it yourself projects can save money, and sometimes, even time. Visit the websites below for some of the best home improvement advice you can find on the web. - Finish the basement, replace a broken outlet . . . even find out how to create a zero energy home – all this and much, much more can be found online at From thousands of how-to projects, to affordable shopping and do-it-yourself videos, this website is the go-to site for any homeowner. A Community Forum is an added benefit for anyone with questions on a project looking for real time answers, or with time to review previous input on topics ranging from automotive to exterior home improvement. Make this site a favorite and do it yourself! - If you love Home and Garden Television (HGTV) you will love! Following the inspiring home improvement topics found on TV, covers everything from decorating to planning your dream home. Daily sections include Today’s Before and After, Today’s HGTV Pick and Daily Designer – each a click to exciting additions to the home and garden. The site also offers Product Ideas, which provides previews of all the best up and coming products you may not know you need, but will really, really want. Visit when you want to make the most of your home. - Energy Star is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy focused on saving money and protecting the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Through, you can find a variety of home improvement tips that focus on energy efficiency including common home problems; air seals and insulation; heating and cooling efficiency and home improvement FAQs. This is the site to visit for energy efficiency. ///
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