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beautiful necessity: avoiding trendiness for simplicity

Simplicitybookphoto Sheba Wheeler, a writer for the Denver Post, recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions of Minneapolis architect Sarah Nettleton, whose recent book The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough "argues for need over trends." Basically, she's pushing the continued integration of the basic tenets of the Arts & Crafts movement into contemporary architectural design and redesign.

Nettleton's basic mantra, or "six paths to simplicity" are:

1. simple is enough;
2. simple is thrifty;
3. simple is flexible;
4. simple is timeless;
5. simple is sustainable; and
6. simple is refined.

These bear a remarkable similarity to Edward De Bono's ten rules of simplicity, which certainly do need a wider audience, especially in the world of design - whether it's graphic design or house design. His own book, Simplicity, should be read by all architects and everyone planning any kind of new build project.

an excerpt from Wheeler's article:

Writing a book wasn't on Sarah Nettleton's to-do list.

But when Taunton Press came knocking, Nettleton pushed aside her drafting software.

This 30-year architecture veteran caught the publishing company's attention after winning national praise from the American Institute of Architects for her simple-living aesthetic.

Here, Nettleton shares her theory for getting more out of life with less, which is outlined in her new book, "The Simple Home: The Luxury of Enough."

Q: How do you define simple?

A: In conversations I had with my editor, we kept coming back to defining simple by what it is not. It's not a style, it's not a location, not a city or county or price point.

I went to a different place within myself, to a time in my childhood growing up in New England. My father loved the idea of pounding a nail straight, of reusing a nail he'd taken out of something else instead of driving to the hardware store to get new nails. Each person has that opportunity - whether they are remodeling something in their current house or doing a new house - to (determine) what they need and what would really delight them, as opposed to "here's what's in style, we'd better just do that."

photograph by Randy O'Rourke for Taunton Press