In America, bigger has traditionally meant better. When left to choose between the mystery prize in the big box or the small envelope, we choose the former. We eat big. We spend big. We cop big attitudes.

Credit such big thinking to our nation’s historic promise to fulfill every desire: land ownership, good jobs, freedom to do as one pleases, the horn of plenty. With so much space available and the means to develop it, why not live large?

Yet we’re finding that large is not always the way to go, for all kinds of reasons. Environmentally, we’re finding we need to share, not hoard, our resources to compensate for the overpopulation of our species and our general wastefulness. Economically, some of us don’t make enough bread to afford big things. Spiritually, we feel alienated as we strive to achieve the American Dream–a dream that is often in conflict with our souls’ true needs.

In this issue of Casa, we address the issue of working with and living in small spaces. We found that instead of being a disadvantage, a small space can actually enrich one’s life and provide an outlet for one’s creative energy.

Personalization of one’s space is what makes a house a home, not size. Beth Livingston’s interview with bestselling author and architect Sarah Susanka channels the frustrations of homeowners struggling to square their desire to have a show palace–like those in glossy magazines–with their desire to live comfortably. Through creative architecture and design, Susanka assures us we’ll be happier with smaller spaces.

Many of us have endured the slings and arrows of college dormitory life, and no one understands them better than six-time co-ed Louis St. Lewis. He tells us how to accessorize the tiny, cramped, institutional all-in-one home with big style and spirit.

Clancy Nolan introduces us to a woman who manages to reconcile her obsession with collecting with a small home. Unconventional and individualistic, Michelle Lee is proof that more can be more, if done well.

By contrast, Cynthia Greenlee advocates a simpler approach for those of us who are less talented at managing clutter. She reminds us that the cliché, “less is more,” has been the philosophical paradigm from the beginning of time.