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A HOUSE OF ONE'S OWN by James Stageberg


: An Architect's Guide to Designing the House of Your Dreams

by James Stageberg & Susan Allen Toth

Pub Date: May 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-517-58214-7

An architect and his writer wife (Blooming, 1981 and Ivy Days, 1984) collaborate on this lyrical, likeable tale of the creation of Wind Whistle, their Minnesota summer getaway—and of the joys of the house-building process in general. A modernist architect marries a clutter-addicted Victoriana buff and resolves to build her a perfect dream house. Sounds like the plot of a sit-com, but this was real life, frighteningly enough, for Stageberg and Toth in the early eighties. Surprisingly, the collaboration proved fruitful and the marriage survived intact as Stageberg managed, after the usual series of discarded drafts, to combine airy, open rooms with a mile or so of built-in bookcases and come up with a graceful, intergrated whole. The key lay in in knowing when to back off: Toth's decision to let her husband design the country house's exterior on his own while he gave in on staining the ceilings sky-blue resulted in a custom-designed retreat so charming and unique that both now find it difficult to leave. In this account, Toth's rhapsodies over the delights of home ownership alternate with Stageberg's informative comments on the architect's point of view ('Always remember that the architect needs you, the client, to realize his vision.'). Drawing on decades of experience custom- designing domeciles for his Minneapolis firm, Stageberg Partners, Inc., he also offers down-to-earth advice on hiring, working with and even firing an architect while simultaneously infecting the reader with his obvious enthusiasm for the craft. Dangerously seductive—those without the house-building bug will catch