WoodCentral's Book Reviews

by Matthew Schoenherr

Taunton Press: 2003
Hardback, 202 pp., $$29.95
ISBN 1-56158-564-5

     Third of four books in Taunton's new architectural series, Schoenherr's Colonials places this American home style firmly in the roots of history. "Even the simple farm house," says the author, "has its roots in the colonial gene pool." With wit and common sense, he leads us through a gallery of beautiful homes with design solutions, necessary updates and a variety of options for different budgets. Some renovations are minor, requiring little more than a home handyman's talent, and others are done on a full architectural professional scale.
     The Colonial style is represented by a rigid front fašade, a consistent two-story form with strict spacing of windows above a central front door, and a massive central chimney. The roof ridge usually runs parallel to the front fašade. Because of the boxiness of the design, ceiling heights in lower rooms don't vary, and it takes considerable creativity to dispel the sameness of the rooms. Renovations often involve doing away with closed off rooms designed for specific purposes, to enlarge modern family living spaces and improve traffic flow.
     To retain the character of a Colonial home, add-ons are often done at the back of a house, retaining the traditional fašade out front. Here is where porches and decks are added, or additional windows to let light in where desired. New constructions often mimic a farmstead, with a two-story central house and connected addtions stepped back from the front facade and having a lower roofline.
     This book is full of before-and-after floorplans, and great color photography showing ways to alter interiors: deep window casements, open timber framing, clerestory windows, or brick and stone patios. Individual homes vary boldly from the basic style.
     The author lists architect's sources, related organizaitons, and gives a recommended reading list and a full index. A very well-done volume.

. . . Barb Siddiqui