Country Interiors

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Reviewed by Patricia Poore

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Period interiors, Tim Tanner suggests, are an antidote to “latest greatest syndrome,” the blind following of trends that creates monotony today and a fickle backlash tomorrow. Let the house speak, he seems to be saying; design and decorate for the long term. In this photo-rich book, which he photographed and wrote, Tanner also muses on the principles of effective design.

This recently built house in Ohio was based on Georgian-era colonial homes in New England.

This recently built house in Ohio was based on Georgian-era colonial homes in New England.

Tanner is a staunch advocate of old houses—those based on classical rules, survivors from 150 or 300 years ago that have stood the test of time. His photographs capture warmly aged materials, the patina-rich finishes, the furniture and the collections. We are invited inside evocative colonial and Georgian homes from Maine to Michigan. Tanner credits and quotes their owners, who shared their homes and their approaches.

Tanner is an artist, a builder, and an industrial and graphic designer, as well as an avid amateur historian. With his wife, Johnna, Tanner restored their first 19th-century home in 1988, and the couple has been involved in restoration projects (as well as reproduction houses using reclaimed materials) ever since. Their current home was built in 1890.

The book is loosely organized by room—Living Rooms, Kitchens, Bedrooms, etc.—but themes are woven through the chapters, like the idea of creating repetition with pleasing variation, emphasis and focal points, the Golden Section, texture and color.

Take this armchair tour aimed at lovers of old houses and anyone who would use relics and antiques to create a soothing interior. Each home photographed is a refuge and a haven, not just because it is “home,” but also because it is timeless.