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Description

Product Description

Acclaimed architect Gil Schafer illustrates how he blends classical architecture, interior decoration, and landscape to create homes with a feeling of history. As a traditional architect, Gil Schafer specializes in building new "old" houses as well as renovating historic homes. His work takes the best of American historic and classical architecture—its detailed moldings and harmonious proportions—and updates it, retaining its character and detail while simultaneously reworking it to be more in tune with the way we live now—comfortable, practical, family-oriented. In his first book, Schafer covers the three essential cornerstones of creating a great traditional house: architecture, landscape, and decoration. He discusses the important interplay between the interior architecture and the fabrics, furniture, and wall treatments. In-depth profiles build on these essays, including Schafer’s own new "old" house in the Hudson Valley; the renovation of a historic home in Nashville designed by Charles Platt in 1915; and the restoration of a magnificent 1843 Greek Revival mansion in Charleston. Filled with hundreds of interior and detail shots, The Great American House is an invaluable resource for anyone who loves old houses and traditional design.

Review

"...a stunning testimony to a life well-lived. His work melds the best of the past, present and future, with each home beautifully thought out, romantic and dreamy. Each of the 256 pages in this tome is an inspiration to build one perfect home in your lifetime." ~ Papercity.com

"These pages document Schafer''s love...and illustrate how thoughtful architecture can infuse the spaces in which we live with meaning." ~Veranda Magazine

"I opened the book, and before I knew it, a few hours had passed. And really, I can’t imagine a better way to spend a few hours than to read Gil’s engaging text and pore over the big, beautiful photos of his work." ~ The Peak of Chic

"Anyone that has loved a house--or wants to fall in love all over again with their old one should get this book. Better yet-if you don''t believe in Love- get the book, Schafer will convince you it can be found at Home." ~ Littleaugury.com

"This is a remarkably good book, " The Great American House", should be on your list." ~ mrsblandings.blogspot.com

About the Author

Award-winning architect and AD 100 member Gil Schafer is consistently recognized as one of the world’s experts on contemporary classical architecture. From 1999 to 2006, Schafer served as president and then chairman of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America. His work has been featured in many publications, including Elle Decor and the New York Times. Bunny Williams is an acclaimed interior designer and the author of four books, including An Affair with a House.

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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
193 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

DomeniqueCY
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Huh?
Reviewed in the United States on March 12, 2021
I hate when books were designed not to be read. This book came as a recommendation, and I really wanted to take something away from it related to home design, and I did not. I did take away the following feelings, unrelated to the subject matter. First, if you''re going to... See more
I hate when books were designed not to be read. This book came as a recommendation, and I really wanted to take something away from it related to home design, and I did not. I did take away the following feelings, unrelated to the subject matter. First, if you''re going to end the page with a widow, don''t put five pages of images between the continuation of the sentence. it is distracting, and it either took away from the text or the images depending on the context. Second, name -rop a lot but don''t provide any good references for context. I still have very little context for William Platt even though he is mentioned in almost every chapter. I mean I understand who he is from an art history sense, but to this designer, he is just a name to be used often as a catch-all for some period work that seems to be between 1830 and 1950...The images are confusing as the staging looks just that, staged. I learned very little other than bigs baths and eat-in kitchens transcend mcmansions, people who renovate want them, too. Also it is important to look historical but not necessarily be historical, unless you want to be...
5 people found this helpful
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Linda York
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointed.
Reviewed in the United States on May 23, 2021
I was really expecting to love this book based on the reviews I read. I felt so let down. Everything seemed to be brown or beige or soft blue here and there. Not much color, except for Christmas, and a spot of color once in a while. Picture on the front of the book was the... See more
I was really expecting to love this book based on the reviews I read. I felt so let down. Everything seemed to be brown or beige or soft blue here and there. Not much color, except for Christmas, and a spot of color once in a while. Picture on the front of the book was the best of the bunch, inviting us in. Once there, I couldn''t wait to leave. Disappointing, boring, formulaic, and I hated the color (or lack thereof) schemes.
2 people found this helpful
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Penelope W. Bianchi
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A classic book about architecture by a classic brilliant architect!
Reviewed in the United States on October 18, 2012
This writer and architect is brilliant! He is a great writer!! He explains how he designs houses and why. This is rare. The last "rave review" (and I do rave when I find a really great book) was about "Villa" by John Saladino. Both of these different, and... See more
This writer and architect is brilliant! He is a great writer!! He explains how he designs houses and why. This is rare. The last "rave review" (and I do rave when I find a really great book) was about "Villa" by John Saladino.
Both of these different, and brilliant architects are able to explain why they design the spaces that they do! In understandable language to a layperson! It makes sense; and they explain it!
That to me; is an additional rare talent to add to the talent that they possess as architects! (and in John''s case; also an "interior designer")

This is a really great book! I think the best thing about "classical architecture"; (in our age of "hideous", my opinion, of course, "McMansions" despoiling the countryside in every state); this man explains why classical architecture makes so much sense.......and why to go there if you are building a house!

As a decorator; for many years, I have been asked to look at "McMansions"; and asked if I can "make this cozy"? My answer,always; unfortunately, is : "No, I cannot." Because it is impossible.
The proportions are wrong, the ceilings are too high, the windows are all wrong, on and on. And they are simply unworkable as "comfortable family houses"; which is my goal as a decorator!

This book may contribute to "Stop the Madness!!" I can only hope!
It is a treasure!
41 people found this helpful
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B. Childs
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Next click? "Add to cart"
Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2012
It is hard to overstate my enthusiasm about the work of Gil Schafer, architect. His projects are exceptionally well planned and beautifully built. I impatiently waited all summer for this book of his houses to be published and it was more than worth the wait.... See more
It is hard to overstate my enthusiasm about the work of Gil Schafer, architect. His projects are exceptionally well planned and beautifully built. I impatiently waited all summer for this book of his houses to be published and it was more than worth the wait.

Being a Rizzoli publication, the book itself is a magnificent product with high paper quality and outstanding picture size and clarity. It has a certain heft that tells you that no material shortcuts were taken.

The content is exactly what I expected; a fascinating narrative from Schafer on his architectural journey and the philosophy which guides his designs. It is so refreshing to see such beautiful classical architecture being created in the 21st century. There are four chapters focusing on particular buildings; Schafer''s own Hudson Valley country house, which is a fine classic Greek Revival temple; a new traditional country house; a renovation of an early 20th century Nashville home and the staggering restoration of Gatewood, a phenomenal antebellum townhouse in Charleston, South Carolina, which with the lightest, most sensitive touch, is now fully functional for the modern age.

This book immediately vaults to the top five amongst a pretty extensive architectural library. For the reader interested in classical architecture this is required reading. Oh that I was in a tax bracket to commission a custom designed home of the first order, Gil Schafer would be my architect.
37 people found this helpful
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billy d
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Inspirational and educational
Reviewed in the United States on October 4, 2017
What makes older homes so much more inviting? Is it the detailing, the craftsmanship, the patina of age? The answer is "yes," and so much more. This book clearly explains why older homes have such allure, and at the same time details how to build a "new old... See more
What makes older homes so much more inviting? Is it the detailing, the craftsmanship, the patina of age? The answer is "yes," and so much more. This book clearly explains why older homes have such allure, and at the same time details how to build a "new old house" or renovate a property to work with today''s lifestyles. This is so much more than a picture book, even though the photos are beyond beautiful. If you are fascinated by the "new old house" movement, this book is a must buy.
9 people found this helpful
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lostdesigner
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Great Design Book
Reviewed in the United States on February 14, 2013
I own and have read over 75 design books over the past several years, and by far this is one of the best. I truly admire architects who design real houses with rooms where furniture can actually be placed. The photos are excellent and this entire book is of such high... See more
I own and have read over 75 design books over the past several years, and by far this is one of the best. I truly admire architects who design real houses with rooms where furniture can actually be placed. The photos are excellent and this entire book is of such high quality. Both the interior and exterior shots are incredible, and reflect the full design concept of the home from landscaping to interior design. My only regret is that I can''t afford Mr. Schafer to design and build my home!!

I would not recommend this book to those who favor contemporary design or the "austere" mid-century modern look, unless they are looking to move away from that design concept.
20 people found this helpful
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Midnight Reader
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Peaceful interior design
Reviewed in the United States on September 13, 2020
Love all the pictures of a warmly decorated home. As a southerner, I related to everything. Very peaceful afternoon reading.
One person found this helpful
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Beverly Hunter
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great Read for Your New Construction Team
Reviewed in the United States on February 27, 2020
Beautiful book with interesting read on how to coordinate construction of a new home with a team of landscape architect, interior designer and contractor. Very informative and valuable addition to my library.
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Top reviews from other countries

G. Coates
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Country House Style the American way
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 22, 2017
Lovely coffee table book by architect Gil Shafer about his views on what makes a great house, with several case studies of projects he has built / renovated for clients. This is a very personal view from someone who respects the great houses of the past, so don''t expect...See more
Lovely coffee table book by architect Gil Shafer about his views on what makes a great house, with several case studies of projects he has built / renovated for clients. This is a very personal view from someone who respects the great houses of the past, so don''t expect modern minimalism or pared back style. However if you love great American houses and the style of people like Albert Hadley, Sister Parish and Bunny Williams (who wrote the foreword to this book), you will love this book too.
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Stephanie Murray
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
G O R G E O U S
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 16, 2013
This book will make you dream of homes, of houses, of gardens of interior design ,,, these homes are amazing in a way only Americans can do ,,, they know all about comfort ,,,, no shaky design and deficient bathrooms and pokey kitchens ,,, all gorgeous space and amazing...See more
This book will make you dream of homes, of houses, of gardens of interior design ,,, these homes are amazing in a way only Americans can do ,,, they know all about comfort ,,,, no shaky design and deficient bathrooms and pokey kitchens ,,, all gorgeous space and amazing taste ,,, this book would make an amazing gift.
6 people found this helpful
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Dot
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Absolutely breathtaking.
Reviewed in Canada on January 29, 2018
If you love beautiful traditional architecture and classically decorated homes, this book will inspire you. Mr. Schafer is a gem. Enjoy
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@louiburke
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Nice
Reviewed in Australia on October 18, 2020
Really nice visuals. A great form of inspiration.
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TheWife
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Bland, old fashioned and boring.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 20, 2017
I was really looking forward to receiving this, it wasn''t cheap but as we are renovating a home in a New England style I thought I''d get some tips. It''s bland and boring. Most of the homes are old fashioned and I hoped the pictures would be a lot more inspiring. They...See more
I was really looking forward to receiving this, it wasn''t cheap but as we are renovating a home in a New England style I thought I''d get some tips. It''s bland and boring. Most of the homes are old fashioned and I hoped the pictures would be a lot more inspiring. They weren''t. Stick with Pinterest.
One person found this helpful
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