A few Sundays ago I headed to an outdoor chaise with a pitcher of ice tea, a stack of magazines, and Art of the House, the second book created by architect and Southern citizen Bobby McAlpine (McAlpine Tankersley Architecture) — with interiors sorceress Susan Ferrier.
I made short work of travel pages and décor magazines filled with such a muchness of kitchen acreage, ballyhooed bookshelves styled with seven books and three carts of mass market dreck, and designers spouting sure-to-nab-a-share listicles. Basta.
Art of the House, Reflections on Design was a departure from the ordinary and utterly unlike McAlpine’s first, The Home within Us.
Art is an intimate, artistic glimpse into five Lake Martin houses designed and decorated by McAlpine and Ferrier, respectively. The poetic copy mentions alchemy and sensory pleasures, where, “Placing one object next to another is a little like prayer…” Genius dwells in every selection and placement. The photography is glorious, lush, enticing. In my mind’s eye, I run my fingertips over velvet, cool antique silver, a rusty urn, a silken feather, a rustic bench.
I covet a certain coiled fiddle-leaf sconce. A framed bird’s nest is equally precious. I imagine running in from the boat, pausing before an antique foxed kitchen mirror to check if my nose burned … and, at night, admiring my reflection in that same mirror in a room where whispers, candlelight, and a Fortuny Delphos gown would not be amiss. Jeeves, caviar on my scrambled eggs, please.
Is it a leap to imagine that this distinctively Southern lake destination may have been McAlpine’s early love, his crucible — a laboratory for space, light, textures and a life first imagined during his sawmill town creation story? My McAlpine timeline is sketchy, but I believe he’s been attached to this stretch of lake shoreline for a long time.
Art of the House is a beauty. It’s a sumptuous, ravishing pleasure to open its doors, savor colors and textures, and stroll through its rooms to linger on what I fancy. And I fancy all of it.
Thanks for the review, Deborah. Stalk us anytime.
Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley
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Beautifully said, Deborah, I too stalk Bobby McAlpine. It started innocently enough In 1987. We moved to Cullman, AL where, driving out in the county, I stumbled on an old farmhouse. The structure was white, Alabama farmhouse vernacular, fused with a stunning modern addition. It took my breath away. I marched up to the door to discover who was responsible for this bold, sophisticated architecture. Bobby McAlpine. Twenty seven years of beautiful architecture and interiors later… I still can’t breathe.
Great review for a great book!
Beautifully written and as always ,beautiful homes!!
Stalked by McAlpine Tankersley? Yes, that’s precisely what brought me to follow here, and I’ve been spooning every rich word into my mouth that I’ve found ever since. This writing of Ms. Deborah Dulzen is just as rich.
I am also a huge fan of yours and have read both books and use them as inspiration in all that I design.
If you dont mind, could I request a “resource” section in both your books as well as your magazines articles. I would love to purchase several pieces for example, the large black stained tripod floor lamps or the small round lacquered side table used in the bedroom with the rhinoceros piece of art…..I spend so much time searching the internet hoping that I can locate just a few of the furnishings used.
Again, thank you for your wonderful and enlighting interiors design its always a treat!
Thanks for the question. In interiors, we purposefully limit our resources for a reason. As you know, it takes many hours scanning the globe to find many of the special things and some of them are custom designed or tweaked by our designers. Giving away these toils does our business little good. Besides, it also reduces interior design to a “formulaic” process – i.e., if you buy this, you’ll get this look. Our interiors are carefully orchestrated – a symphony of may instruments.