Peeking Through the Keyhole: The Evolution of North American Homes


212 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-7735-2439-8
DDC 728'.097




Reviewed by Stephen Fai

Stephen Fai is associate director of the School of Architecture at
Carleton University in Ottawa.


Avi Friedman is recognized internationally for his work on affordable
housing. His Grow Home is an acknowledged reference in the design of
innovative and responsible single-family housing. In this book, Friedman
and co-author David Krawitz examine contemporary social trends that they
see as responsible in some way for the state of today’s house and
home. Kitchens, shopping, information technology, renovations, children,
aging, urbanity, and real estate are all given consideration in these
200 pages. No small feat. The intention here is to present a concise
history and sociology of how and why our homes have changed since World
War II. All of this is meant to give us a fresh way to look at the home.

Unfortunately, the authors’ observations on contemporary dwelling
range from clichéd (e.g., “Multifunctionality is the strategy for
making maximum use of any space”) to banal (e.g., “And as we
transform these, they in turn transform us”). There is very little
here that will surprise and nothing that will revolutionize. While
Friedman and Krawitz are to be commended for their efforts to be
comprehensive, the book lacks depth and critical perspective. Perhaps in
part because of the decision to eschew citations, the chapters read like
loose collections of anecdotes and musings. Peeking Through the Keyhole
conveys none of the authority that Professor Friedman has earned.


Friedman, Avi, and David Krawitz., “Peeking Through the Keyhole: The Evolution of North American Homes,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024,