January 10th, 2006



From the Los Angeles Times

An architect builds big for others but lives within 710 square feet himself. The quality-over-quantity ethos of the 'not-so-big' movement.
By Barbara King
Times Staff Writer

December 15, 2005

DOUG RUCKER puts on his baseball cap, slides open the back door of his house and heads toward his architectural office just a few steps off the patio. OK, then, his wife decides, time for her to get back to work too, and off she goes out the front door and down a high, rounding driveway to her art studio, clutching a mug of hot tea.

Standing before a wall of windows, Rucker flips through a set of meticulously detailed blueprints for Kris Kristofferson's new house, relatively chaste in size at 2,000 square feet, but capacious compared to his own. For 10 years, he and Marge Lewi-Rucker have lived comfortably and contentedly in a three-room structure that is just over 700 square feet.

Thirty years ago, on a dance floor in Malibu, Rucker, a residential architect, and Lewi-Rucker, an artist and therapist, both in their 40s and each in longtime, collapsing marriages, "finally found our real loves," as he describes their meeting. By 1984, they had left behind their respective former lives, their big houses and the bulk of their belongings to be together.

If living in tiny quarters was what made the most sense at their ages, then that was that, they would do it. Scrap the plans for the larger house along with the dismaying mortgage they hadn't expected, then downsize, pare down, let go — whatever handy jargon you want to ascribe to it — and make a go of it.

After his divorce, with his split from the sale of the house he had designed and built on a Malibu promontory, Rucker managed to buy an acre of rural property choked with waist-high mustard weeds off Kanan Road, 1,700 feet up in the Santa Monica Mountains.

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