Text by: Lindsay Mather, Architectural Digest
A scroll through Pinterest or Instagram reveals a wealth of beautifully designed homes, but a house that feels personal and inviting—for both residents and guests—is harder to come by. Architect and designer Keith Summerour aim to create residences that achieve both of these things; each of his projects has a strong sense of place and individual style while still being totally livable. Truly achieving this balance requires embracing the eccentricities of the property, and, perhaps most important, avoiding overdesigning. In his new book Creating Home: Design for Living (Rizzoli, $50), Summerour writes of his own country house, "I have learned to adjust myself to my home's personality, just as I might accept the quirks of a special, appealingly complicated friend." Read on to discover more of Summerour's sage advice on building a soulful space, illustrated by his charming projects found all over the South.
Embrace the past
"I am mostly concerned with the experience of architecture—which is to say, how it feels. Few things feel as real and comfortable—as right—as the historic classicism of the South," writes Summerour in the book. For this project, he took the aesthetic of a classic French country house and streamlined it, allowing for more modern features, such as an open-concept family room and kitchen.
Look to the land
When designing one of the first vacation homes on Blackberry Farm in Tennessee, Summerour chose materials that spoke to the house's rustic location, including hand-hewn logs and barn boards. "Having become intimate, and empathetic, with my own surroundings, I can draw on a wellspring of peace and put it within reach of others," he writes.
Simplify the architecture
Architectural elements are often the stars of the show, but that doesn't need to always be the case. For this light-flooded, Santa Fe–style residence in Knoxville, Tennessee, Summerour decided to "eliminate the details, purify the forms, and make the project about illumination.
Aim for imperfection
"When I see a house that has been all done up to the nth degree, with the 'right' dishes and silver, pictures hung to perfection, and the sofa pillows plumped, I don't consider it properly decorated—as it doesn't invite you to relax and stay awhile," writes Summerour. "I prefer an interior that is well thought out functionally but not so much that it repels character.
Go with your gut
According to Summerour, authenticity boils down to doing what you want, not what may seem like the right thing to do. Summerour writes of this home: "My clients, who'd moved to Palmetto Bluff [in South Carolina] from Louisiana, had a firm notion of what they wanted stylistically: a traditional low-country classical Southern house, but not one like their grandparents might have built."
Feature Image: Unsplash