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The Finest Rooms in America Hardcover – November 9, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“A definitive compendium of decorating that's begging to live on your bookshelf. Mr. Jayne, mega decorator himself and disciple of interiors legend Albert Hadley, has a refreshingly democratic eye (for a decorator) presenting an array of finery from the tippy top of society’s homes—tastefully jammed with important European furniture or, conversely, lean and tailored with collectible modern. It is a treat to have all of this catalogued in one swell tome.”
—The Wall Street Journal
 
Thomas Jayne, the New York decorator, has always brought both a scholarly
knowledge of design history and a quirky sense of the modern to his work, creating rooms that bridge the old and the new. And even though there is none of Jayne’s
own work in his new book, The Finest Rooms in America (The Monacelli Press),
his sensibility is evident in his choice of what the book’s subtitle calls “fifty influential interiors from the 18th century to the present.”
—TheNewYorkTimes.com
 
“..from Thomas Jefferson’s tearoom to Albert Hadley’s sitting room, 50 of
 America’s most inspiring spaces.”
  —House Beautiful
 
“A fascinating tour of the country’s most influential extant spaces, by
an always engaging, sharp-eyed guide.”
—Veranda
 
“Titling a book The Finest Rooms in America is an ambitious proclamation, but Thomas Jayne delivers a thorough and satisfying portrait of some of the most striking American interiors in this new book.”
 —AOL.com (Shelterpop)
 
 
“Two hundred years of fine American interior design are
packed into this elegant new book.”
—Art of the Times (Florida)

About the Author

Thomas Jayne was trained as a graduate fellow in the prestigious Winterthur program, as well as other leading museums. He studied architecture and art history at the University of Oregon and apprenticed with the august New York design firms of Parish-Hadley and Kevin McNamara. He has an international clientele that ranges from important collectors to young families, who live in a variety of settings, both historic and contemporary. Critics have noted that he writes with a “unique and quirky voice steeped in the history of decorative objects but cognizant of modern mores.” A principal at his firm Thomas Jayne Studio, he defines his decoration as embracing both ancient and modern.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 207 pages
  • Publisher: The Monacelli Press (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580932428
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580932424
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 1.2 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #969,108 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Discernment is becoming a lost art, but in The Finest Rooms in America (The Monacelli Press), by Thomas Jayne with Anne Walker, you are in the hands of a master. In fact, with its effortless sweep from the 18th century to the present day, I can't think of anyone else working in the field of decoration today who could have pulled it off. You will never look at a room, a piece of furniture, or a color in the same way again. My takeaway? Edit, edit, edit. (Full disclosure: I am mentioned in the book's acknowledgments, along with other writers and editors, but I was not involved in the project.)
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"... just as in my parents' house, rooms that are small and not expensive can also be among the finest." The author's words are both democratic and provocative.
The reader will become involved with this book firstly curious to see which rooms are chosen then wondering how and why they were chosen and ultimately understanding what makes a room fine, wonderful, etc. Do we agree with the author or disagree with his choices? 50 is just a number. The real take away will be your own enriched ideas for quality, proportions, style, design, livability. The book is the author's invitation to go on this intellectual journey. His creative process is contagious. Of course, it can be easier to look back historically and all agree on what has staying power and remains pleasing to most but, challenging to assign that same title to rooms made in our lifetime. The 50 rooms reveal the author's bold goal realized and invite us to ponder number 51, 52, etc, as well as our own rooms. "The Finest..." provides beautiful food for thought.
Mindy Papp Durham
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Format: Hardcover
In answering the intriguing question, "What is American design?" author/designer/historian Thomas Jayne has assembled 50 of the most influential rooms in America's design history. The rooms in this book immortalize the best of American decoration from the 18th century to the present.

Opening with the totally fetching tea room at Monticello, which looks as stylish and inviting today as when Thomas Jefferson sipped tea there, this book helps you realize Jefferson was America's first interior decorator. What great company for designers to keep! Jefferson sets a standard for other decorators to follow. The book walks us through America's decorative history through the next 49 rooms of diverse styles and regions including Mark Twain's library and ends appropriately in Albert Hadley's sitting room. Author Jayne says if one element characterizes American interior decoration, it's comfort. And Hadley, like the other designers in the book, understands comfort. It's fun to just study the rooms, get ideas for your home, and think about which ones you'd most want to move into. I'm still making up my mind.

"Each room absolutely expresses the decade in which it was created," says Jayne. What is interesting, however, is the rooms don't look dated, but have a timeless quality. Most of them could appear in a shelter magazine today. You'll enjoy the sheer versatility and overall attractiveness of these rooms. Accompanying the pictures of the rooms is Jayne's entertaining and educational text. We hope that Jayne succumbs to curating some of the rooms which didn't make it into this first volume for a second volume of America's next most 50 influential rooms. In the meantime, we've got this delicious book to study. It would make a fabulous gift for yourself or anyone who loves interior design.
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I love this book -- it is a very democratic view of American decoration. Rooms large and small, humble and grand have a place here ... very inspiring.

Pilar Viladas of the New York Times gave a good summary:

[...]
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This book is fantastic. It has great photos and all of the photo descriptions are on the same page as what is shown. You don't have to keep flipping back and forth between text and the pictures of the elegant rooms. I like the way the author has showcased the historic homes, especially Monticello. It was considered genius in its day, and is still so considered. My design sense leans toward traditional/eclectic, with a twist of contemporary art. So I am happy that he included many rooms that are traditionally designed and ones that include family photos and the owners' personal possessions. I truly hope the author has other books "in the works," and I would like to see more photos of his own design work.
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The book is very nice and the rooms chosen are beautiful. The photography is beautiful. However this is one expert opinion. For example I find it hard to believe that not one room in the White House would be chosen by the author. That being said I wonder how many other rooms could be considered the "Finest". Perhaps a team of several designers, architects and decorators could have collaborated as coauthors to compile a fairer selection. Some rooms depicted would likely still make the grade but there would be others considered finer than those illustrated.
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This book is filled with wonderful illustrations and very descriptive text. It spans many years and a variety of styles. It is fun to just look at, but also very helpful for design projects.
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