Book Report: The New Glass House by James Grayson Trulove (2006)

Book coverWell, now, gentle reader, I will have another section to pick through at the Friends of the Springfield-Greene County Library book sale: Architecture (and home design). I bought this book last weekend from the architecture section because it was right across from the art monographs. I used to read home plans books, magazines, and Web sites regularly, but I’ve gotten away from that since I bought a large house in the country. I’ve let my design, or at least my home and garden, magazine subscriptions lapse except for the quarterly 417 Home that’s part of my subscription to the local local interest slick. So it almost caught me by surprise how much I liked to flip through this book.

It’s got a number of homes made mostly or largely of glass windows. A little section description of where it is and what the goal was, house plans and architectural drawings, and then photos of the building from the exterior and the interior looking out.

The photos, of course, depict showroom houses. Like staged homes you see when you’re shopping for a home: furniture, but no signs of living. You know, my (recently) sainted aunt kept her home very tidy, and she had a lot of showpiece bits of furniture. Mostly antiques, which might not see in a lot of style guides like this, especially for modern architecture–even the rustic-styled lodges with glass walls had modernist furniture made out of wood or faux wood. But my aunt’s finely appointed home had personal touches, and I would guess those are stripped from the photos along with the clutter.

At any rate, these homes aren’t for me. Some of the homes are near others, which means the glass walls give people outside clear views into the home, and whether it’s true in real life or not, most of the windows do not have curtains, blinds, or other shuttering solutions for privacy. Personally, I don’t like to have blinds open on both sides of my house so that someone looking in the front can see completely through the dining room windows. I probably got this from my father, who once said he did not want to live in a fish bowl. Me, either. Although I don’t mind maybe one room that has a wall of windows–or a set of sliding doors to the back yard–I don’t want to let the outside in that badly. I want boundaries to my home and rooms that emphasize that you’re secure inside. Yeah, I like dark colors and paneling on my walls, too.

That said, one thing leapt out at me: Someone built a small, two-story library outbuilding to house his or her 10,000 volumes of Japanese history books (hello, rich professor!). It’s a little out in the woods, and it has a completely enclosed first floor where the books are stored and a second floor with walls of windows on all sides with a sofa for reading and a desk for working. You know, back in my I’m going to be startup rich and build our dream home days (and probably a little under the influence of the observation tower at Big Cedar Lodge), I wanted something like this atop my dream home, although I had in mind more of a round turret style. With a fireplace in the middle of the floor. So I liked it best of the things I saw, even though it did not have a brick or stonework exterior.

And I cannot leave this topic without saying that the new glass houses are interesting, but I like the old Glass Houses the best.