Poetry of Place by McAlpine- A Book Review

Cindy Barganier Interiors / architecture and design  / Poetry of Place by McAlpine- A Book Review

Poetry of Place by McAlpine- A Book Review

I was thrilled to receive my copy of Poetry of Place, the latest coffee table book by McAlpine Home.  As a true fan of the work of these friends  I knew that I was in for a pleasant Sunday afternoon of amazing photography and prose.

book review of Poetry of Place

It did not disappoint. Of course they had me at hand renderings. Am I the only one who finds these drawings so romantic and…. well… perfect that I am sometimes disappointed that the actual buildings can’t match the charm of the pencil? Happily, these homes met my standard.


There is an organic feel to all of McAlpine’s work that speaks to this mountain girl’s heart.  This upstairs hallway is one such space with the mix of woods and stains, the Gothic door arch and the cozy feel.

McAlpine Home hallway


In my opinion, this is the correct way to utilize flea market finds. This collection of white suitcases became sculpture in Susan Ferrior’s skillful hands.

Sometimes their kitchens are a bit dark for me but this was one of my favorites! The light pouring in through the stone wall, the handsome dual islands, over-scaled lights  and sheer scale of the place is stunning.

The imagination that went into this house thrills me. Created for an imaginary ship captain (or such) the center portion of the  roof line is supposed to remind one of a sail fully inflated. Can’t you just hear it! You will read all about the many details and the symbolism on page 185.

This picture of the dining room hints at what it must feel like to sit beneath the sail as you dine surrounded by ocean.

But now we arrive at the story that spoke to my heart as no design book as ever done. At the risk of exposing too much I am going to let Bobby speak as only Bobby can.

The story of James’s Well….

…a living memorial built by parents whose son died on the mission field in Africa at age 27.

“When I stood by James’s grave, marked by a pair of logs bound by rope in a cruciform shape, and looked at the little glen across a pond, the entire idea came to me in an instant. We should build a primitive structure formed of rubble-almost of mud-rising to a three-tiered thatched cone roof ending in a glass cube. The small tower would be shaped in plan like a Coptic cross-a form familiar to us as a shape but not as an enterable space. ‘Vessel’ was the word that came to mind to describe the space within. Later I learned that the Coptic cross tracks its origins to Africa. By providence it was exactly right.

Turning the latch at the level of the breastbone- from your heart to James’s- you open a twenty-seven-inch plank of African wood to enter the tower. This number recurs in many places within the tower, recording James’s final age in dimensions. Inside there is a twenty-seven-inch aperture in the floor, opening to a reservoir of water far larger than you can perceive. Exposing just a portion of the subterranean bounty, its implication is one of plenty. Straight overhead there is a twenty-seven-inch cube of glass surrounded by sky. suspended between the well and the cube, a clear and luminous cross hangs, arising, ushering…….”

Totally amazing.

Well done McAlpine. Well done.

Buy the book here.

You won’t be disappointed.

Cindy Barganier
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