Must Read: Renewing Tradition

In the photography-filled pages of Renewing Tradition, architect Eric J. Smith reveals a design philosophy rooted in reverence, humility, and the tenets of classicism
A two-level white columned porch from the pages of Renewing Tradition: The Architecture of Eric J. Smith
A Dutch Colonial home’s generous upper terraces offer views of the Long Island Sound. The firm of Eric J. Smith Architect expanded the home’s back porches and terraces, providing indoor-outdoor living space along the entire length of the house.

Architect Eric J. Smith loves the stories of houses. At a recent speaking appearance, he was describing the renovation of an old lake cottage he purchased in Michigan. The home is near a golf course and, over the decades, golfers had trudged up and down the stairwell in their golf shoes, leaving spike marks all over the stairs.

“In the end, I decided to keep the spike marks,” said Smith. “To me, they are part of the house.”

It would be natural for Smith, an esteemed architect, to want to put his own stamp on his home. Instead he approached the renovation with reverence and humility, not so much as an owner but as a steward.

View from a pool house of the back of the main house in Allerton, CA, by architect Eric J. Smith
At a Georgian-style home designed by Smith’s firm in Atherton, California, he worked with landscape architect Peter Cummin on the formal grounds. See a view of the home’s Neoclassical pool house in FLOWER’s gallery of Gorgeous Pools and Pool Houses.

In his new book, Renewing Tradition (Rizzoli New York, 2019), Smith offers an extended meditation on the same themes. Whether it be a Georgian mansion, a Dutch Colonial, or a French Country home, he cleaves to the tenets of classicism, which always renders a home that feels right and true in its place.

Gorgeous photography, combined with Smith’s notes and—delightfully—his drawings, tells the story of each residence and showcases many of the jewels of the archi­tect’s 30-year career.

More Scenes from Renewing Tradition

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Formal dining room with a table for 10
The owner of the Georgian home in Atherton had decorated many previous houses, but knew that this one would be a legacy home where her family would live for generations. In the dining room, she worked with Gracie, a New York-based custom wallpaper company, on a Chinoiserie print with native Northern Californian birds replacing the traditional Chinese birds. (She got the idea from looking at the birds on her children’s plastic placemats!)
Luxury bathroom designed by Eric J. Smith
A gray and white palette, including Calacatta marble, brings warmth to a master bath.
Back porch in Jacksonville with water view
A porch with entrances off the living room, breakfast room, and master suite underscores the ease of indoor/outdoor living in Florida.
Stone facade with boxwood hedges in a formal design

A Cotswold-inspired 1920s stone house, renovated by the firm of Eric J. Smith Architect, on Chicago's North Shore

Eric J. Smith sunroom

A limestone floor, French plaster walls, and floor-to-ceiling metal and glass Palladian-style windows grace an orangerie-inspired garden room in the North Shore home.

White kitchen
Smith and team transformed the 1920s North Shore kitchen, reducing the footprint while increasing functionality. Along with a large central skylight and picture window, glass-fronted cabinets with frosted glass backs flood the space with natural light. The home also gained separate spaces for food and butler’s pantries.

book cover for Renewing Tradition: The Architecture of Eric J. SmithBy Kirk Reed Forrester | Photography © Peter Margonelli from Renewing Tradition: The Architecture of Eric J. Smith (Rizzoli New York, 2019)

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