The Great American House

"Mom, can you do me a favor?"

"What's that?"

"Can you pour the milk right into the center of the cereal?"  I looked up, standing in my pajamas and slippers, the simple white bowl filled with still-crunchy cornflakes, rested on the marble counter.  He looked back at me with blue-eyed earnestness.

"Does it matter?"

"A lot.  Don't worry, Dad does it wrong, too."

And try as I might, it was difficult to be annoyed because his needs were so exacting. That intolerance for the just-not-quite-right is not a latent gene, but a product of both nature and nurture.

This attention to detail and devotion to exactness are shared by architect Gil Schafer.  My files are filled with tear-sheets of Mr. Schafer's work and I am happy to have many of these images captured handily in his new book, The Great American House; Tradition for the Way We Live Now.

The book holds not only pictures of the gracious buildings themselves, but the interiors by noted designers such as Miles Redd, Michael Smith and David Netto.  For the true devotee, elevations and drawings of both floor plans and garden plans are plenty.  In addition, Schafer offers candid perspective on renovating and building; this advice would be handy for anyone looking to start from scratch no matter the aesthetic.

This is a remarkably good book season; plan accordingly (some birds large, medium and small have mentioned to me that there is a gift-giving holiday just around the corner.)  The Great American House, available here, should be on your list.

All images courtesy of Rizzoli, New York; from top photography Paul Costello; design, Schafer in collaboration with Miles Redd, photography John M. Hall; photography Carter Berg; design, David Netto, photography Jonathan Wallen; landscape design Deborah Nevins, photography, Schafer.

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