Part 1 of this post dealt with 5 “must have” books for the builder and contractor. This week I list 5 books for the homeowner. These books are a little less technical but there is still some overlap between library types. This overlap is necessary because there is still information that must be shared between the homeowner and the builder/architect which encourages the building of Timeless Houses. Please review and let me know what you think. If there are obvious books I have forgotten please feel free to ad on.
If you have been to Seaside, or Rosemary Beach or Alys Beach in Florida you have enjoyed the ideas and ideals of New Urbanism. This ground breaking book lays out the fundamentals of the New Urbanism, which of course drives the design of these places. Andres Duany of DPZ Architects is the author and you will learn a great deal about what makes a great neighborhood by reading this book.
Field Guide to American Houses
Virginia McAlester’s newly updated book also helps with identifying details of neighborhoods along with the houses in them. I would consider her book as the starting point for any research in American architectural home styles.
The Old Way of Seeing
l really like Jonathon Hale’s book on why old houses look better than new houses. It is a nice combination of theory and design that will help educate you and give you a great appreciation of good historic design.
Selling the Dwelling
Richard Cheek put together this amazing book recently for an exhibit at the Grolier club in NY. It highlights the books that influenced American house styles going back to the 18th century. The book is not only informative but beautiful.
At least 10-Style specific design books
Whatever style of home you love, you need to research the style extensively before you build. You need to be informed because you may find you need to fight for good design details on your home. I would consider 10 books the minimum and think your collection should include a mix of new books as well as old (pre-1940) books.
If you like Colonial style homes, then for an old book I would start with the “White Pine” series, which is a study of 18th century homes on the East coast originally published in the 20’s and early 30’s. For a new book, I would include Creating A New Old House by Russell Versaci. This kind of blend of old and new books is a good way to cover a broad area with unbiased information.
Have fun researching and building your library. Always remember the great renaissance thinker Erasmus who wrote about books and building his library, “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”