Monday, January 10, 2011

Reviewing: "The New Western Home" by Chase Reynolds Ewald

I originally picked this book up at my local library to review it for a future column in the Senior News newspaper. My monthly column covers books that are either written by Texas authors, set in Texas, or of interest to Texans. Space limitations mean I have four hundred words maximum to cover two books a month.

However, once I got the book home and started reading it, I quickly realized this book didn't really fit the column requirements too well. That was a shame as this is a beautifully photographed book full of design ideas that honor the old classic traditions of the west and meet today's concerns about the environment. This blending of the old and the new results in detailed coverage of fourteen very different homes located across several western states. In each case, there are numerous pictures of the home from outside and inside. A detailed text accompanies the pictures and includes not only information about each house as well as the environment at that location and how the house was constructed to meet environmental goals.

After an extensive introduction by author Chase Reynolds Ewald that explains the purpose of the book while also documenting some of the beauty of Montana and the struggle to save that beauty for future generations, the book opens with a post and beam home in Marin County, California. This is the area of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and Point Reyes National Seashore among other protected lands. The local area also features numerous ranches devoted to cattle and dairy farms. As such, the depicted classic red wood barn fits right into the landscape. Readers are treated to an explanation and history of the home as well as numerous pictures inside and outside. Simplicity is the key here except for the incredible kitchen photographed by Audrey Hall on page 31.

The photography makes the book and features the wonderful work of photographer Audrey Hall on every page. Those pictures detail history in a modern world where it is the Bar 20 Ranch in Montana, an incredibly spacious and breathtaking fishing cabin on the banks of the Yellowstone River, the new prairie home in Paradise Valley, or many others showcased in this book. While the text can explain over and over again what was done and how it was done, the incredible photographs are what tell the tale in this fantastic book.

This homage to the west, particularly the Wyoming/Montana area, continues for 173 pages before leading into a two page resource list featuring the builders and architects, furniture makers, artists and many others that were involved that created the stunning homes in this book. Unlike many such books that feature sterile homes that no human family could ever live in, these are homes that people do own and live in everyday. These owners are lucky people and so too are readers who get to peer inside for a while.

The New Western Home
Chase Reynolds Ewald
Audrey Hall (Photographer)
ISBN# 978-1-4236-0255-2
176 Pages

Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.

Kevin R. Tipple (c) 2010

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