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Residential architects who specialize in the hot, humid, southern climate

Book Review: Get Your House Right

By Marianne Cusato & Ben Pentreath with Richard Sammons & Leon Krier


                                                          "T" House

“Sadly, it is all too apparent that despite our best intentions the traditional buildings that are being constructed today do not always feel ‘right’. Why is this? So often, they seem to fail in the small details – the proportion of a window, or a badly-detailed door surround, or in a mistaken or short-sighted choice of materials.” Excerpt from the forward by HRH The Prince of Wales

 

 

A former Frederick + Frederick employee and close family friend describes the failed neo-traditional homes so prevalent in the Lowcountry as “Phony Colonie” (pronounced so the words rhyme). You have likely seen some of these disproportioned homes throughout the rest of the  country and world too.  In her book, Cusato outlines specific guidelines to ensure that your traditionally inspired home does not end up on the phony colonie list. There are excellent detailed drawings to illustrate her points. 

 

                                                         "I" House 

The historic Colonial homes in Beaufort and Charleston, the "I" house, Charleston Single, "T" house & Freedman Cottage, are often used as inspiration for new buildings in the area. Frederick + Frederick is no stranger to the vernacular homes of the Lowcountry. To name a few, Bluff Plantation is a traditional “T” house. We restored the Fienning residence to it’s original “I” house layout. The Freedman Cottage was used as our inspiration for the Beaufort 3 Century project. The Cole’s house is a modern interpretation of a dog trot. 

 

Architecture schools often spend more time with the modernist and contemporary architects than studying traditional forms. This book should be read by anyone who is interested in building traditional homes; and has useful information the non-traditionalist too.

 

However, the book lacks any good information about site planning and interior layouts. It also overgeneralizes American tastes. In the introduction, Leon Krier says, “Americans visit Fallingwater in religious awe, but when they choose a home, they turn for inspiration to Williamsburg and Mount Vernon, to the vernacular and classical models.” For some, that may be true, but we have many clients with modern tastes. 


  Avoid:

  • Shutters than don’t work

  • Complicated Massing

  • Front Loaded Garages

  • Too many elements in a single elevation

   Use:

  • Appropriate materials and designs for your climate and region

  • A small number of well built elements