atHome // Masters in the house: Divine architecture by three artisans of the craft

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How would you define “home?”

Ask 10 people and you’ll get 10 different answers. To provide some insight, we turned to three nationally recognized and respected architects to see how they would answer the question. We’ll look to three books of their work that speak not only in words, but also in gorgeous photographic examples of their style and expertise in creating home.  

Having designed homes in the area, these three craftsmen share a connection to the Upstate, and we’ve had the privilege of featuring them in past issues of atHome magazine. 

‘The Home Within Us: Romantic Houses, Evocative Rooms’

  • By Bobby McAlpine; Rizzoli, New York; $32. 

Drawing his first floor plan at the age of 5, Bobby McAlpine was destined to become an architect. His firm, McAlpine, with offices in Montgomery, Alabama; New York; Atlanta; and Nashville, Tennessee, has evolved to not only designing homes but also the furnishings within them. The firm creates homes that are “romantic historicism blended with modern refinements.” 

McAlpine’s structures are often evocative of his strong reverence for English design, particularly that of Sir Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens’ design for his mother-in-law’s home inspired McAlpine’s own home design.   

This book is divided into four sections and features photographs of more than 20 homes and structures, both exterior and interior. McAlpine’s home is the first that is featured and takes us through the evolution of changes as he experimented with his desire to “live my lessons.” 

Among the others is a Mediterranean-revival house with factory-sash windows and classical Roman columns, a beach house with a vaulted hallway leading to a light-filled contemporary salon, a Cape Dutch design with steep Flemish gables and apothecary windows, and a Georgian revival with a conservatory-like salon.  

There is a romantic approach to the creation of a McAlpine home: His main goal is to design a home that provides “physical evidence of a state of mind of well-being.” 

This is the first book of his designs. A second book was published last year: “Poetry of Place: The New Architecture and Interiors of McAlpine.”

‘Creating Home: Design for Living’

  • By Keith Summerour; Rizzoli, New York; $50. 

Keith Summerour, raised in Alabama and now headquartered in Atlanta, has been perfecting architecture since 1991. His thoughts on what one should feel when entering a house can be summed up in two words: expectancy and excitement. Looking through this book will provide you with both.  

The book is divided into three sections — Respect for Tradition, Rustic Retreats, and Authenticity — and features nine homes.  

The first section interweaves history and modernity with photos of a 1922 traditional restoration project, a 4,000-square-foot new build with Arts and Crafts detailing, and an unassuming English cottage-style home.  

The second section features two homes on property abutting Blackberry Farm in Tennessee and a 10,000-square-foot, two-story, one-room-deep home on a North Carolina mountaintop. To conceptualize each home’s design, Summerour first walks the property noting the topography, sun and wind direction, the views, and the existing flora. 

He also works closely with his clients to get a feel for how they will live in the house and adjusts the design to meet the owners’ needs rather than using a “one-size-fits-all” approach.   

An Italianate villa with a Santa Fe flair, a South Carolina Lowcountry classic with a modern sensibility, and Summerour’s own rural Georgia retreat home — a truly inimitable “shot” tower — round out the third section of this engaging book.  

‘Frank Lloyd Wright: American Master’

  • By Kathryn Smith; Rizzoli, New York; $30.

The title says it all. You can’t talk about home design and omit Frank Lloyd Wright. It would be sacrilege. 

Wright (1867-1959) was an architect, interior designer, writer, and educator who drew upon his philosophy of “organic architecture” and created structures that were in harmony with the needs of people and the environment. 

By the time of his death, he was eulogized as one of the greatest architects who ever lived. Several of the homes he designed that are no longer occupied have been preserved and are open for tours. Included is his Phoenix, Arizona, home and studio, Taliesin West. 

The book is divided into sections that lead you through the periods of Wright’s evolution of architectural style. They are Deconstructing History, 1886-1901; Abstracting Nature, 1902-1917; Materials as Metaphors, 1918-1936; Building Usonia, 1937-1959; and Leaving a Legacy, 1948-1959. 

There is a bit of text before each section, but the abundance of pages contain what we really want to see: photos of the houses and their interiors. Some of Wright’s iconic buildings are also included and stand out for their unique, timeless qualities.

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