The Home Within Us by Bobby McAlpine

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Heralded by Veranda magazine as “a landmark design book,”

The Home within Us: Romantic Houses, Evocative Rooms (Rizzoli)

is well on its way to becoming a best-selling design book.

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Written by architect and interior designer Bobby McAlpine with co-author Susan Sully,

this gorgeous book features work from across the South by McAlpine Tankersley Architecture and McAlpine Booth and Ferrier Interiors.

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What  Bobby McAlpine tells Susan Sully about the book:

The difference of this book lies partially in the work, but mostly in the writing you helped me with. It is spoken from a different branch of the tree–one that may never have been touched. It is the cravings of any artist to make a world that they recognize, excavating what’s inside of them and putting it out in front.

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Drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as an English chapel of ease,

a Classical temple, and a country French carriage house,

featured dwellings and follies celebrate themes that lie at the heart of

McAlpine’s vision of home and sacred space.

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With the columns of a Classical temple combined with factory-sash windows,

this pavilion-style residence illustrates McAlpine’s love of combining the

ancient with the modern.

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A crystal conservatory suspended between baroque gables intended to

resemble ruins from a long-ago fire reveals McAlpine’s penchant

for juxtaposing the permanent with the vulnerable.

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Exemplifying McAlpine’s fascination with pathways and passages,

this tantalizingly circuitous stairway

winds upward through a tower, piecing the outer wall before

terminating in an open-air lounge with a dizzying view.

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In the book’s introduction, read about McAlpine’s vision of the home as a

curative place:

The world outside us issues an invitation to question reality,

and ultimately it forces us home.

Where is the place that mirrors our hearts?

Where are we when we feel held and protected and whispered to?

Where does the content of our intimate exchanges ring most true?

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Illustrating McAlpine’s vision of the spirit and materiality of home,

whether places for living or for pure folly, like this thatch-topped tower,

twenty-two dwellings are arranged in four sections:

Ancient Modern, The Way Within, Harmony of Opposites,

and Sanctuary for the Self.

Described as titillating, glamorous, glad, romantic, and humble,

these houses and McAlpine’s words about them will forever change the way

readers think about home.10px

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10pxTo purchase an autographed copy of the book, go to capitolbook.com/MTA.htm

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Read more about this book, visit mcalpinetankersley.com/communique/ The newest issue of Communique, the firm’s beautiful new online magazine (to be released May 3rd) features several articles about the book including an interview with me, excerpted below.

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Having written extensively about the South in your many books, most recently in The Southern Cosmopolitan, can you speak about the “Southern-ness” of our work?

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As I always like to point out, Southern style is so much more complex than most people think.  The style palette draws from such a wide range, including both the formal and vernacular architecture of England, France, the Mediterranean, the West Indies, and more.

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West Indian-inspired palette of Rainbow Row in Charleston

West Indian-inspired palette of Rainbow Row in Charleston


Creating up-to-date, appropriate interpretations of traditional styles is an overlooked aspect of the architecture of the South, where the first trans-Atlantic colonists found ways to modify that which they knew and loved to a new place, a new climate, a new way of life. McAlpine continues this tradition by marrying the old with the new in houses like this one, which combines contemporary elements including telephone pole columns with a West Indian style hip roof.

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Florida dwelling inspired by West Indian architectureMcAlpine-designed dwelling inspired by West Indian architecture

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Another important aspect of  Southern dwellings is an infusion of soul and mystery. The South is a place where the soul does not take second place to anything. It comes through in the reverence for the past and the beauty and truth it carries forward. It comes through in the kindness with which we interact with the world.

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Entertaining rooms in Hal Williamson's Natchez home

Entertaining rooms in Hal Williamson's Natchez home

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This soulful nature may come from the fact that the South remained an agrarian culture long after its trade-partners became manufacturers, so Southerners maintained a closer connection with nature, and family, and the old ways.  Some say it’s because we lost the Civil War, and, lacking means, we drew upon our inner resources and the comfort we found in what surrounded us—especially family, the beautiful land, and the old rooms and houses that revealed the hopes and dreams of our predecessors.

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McAlpine-designed interior inspired by a French carriage house
McAlpine-designed interior inspired by a French carriage house

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Because McAlpine works from this place, his houses speak to the senses, to the soul, to a collective past, and also to the present moment. This is what I call Southern style.

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