Opening with memories of the childhood homes and experiences that have shaped Schafer’s own history, A Place to Call Home gives the reader the sense that for Schafer, architecture is not just a career but a way of life, a calling. He describes how the many varied houses of his youth were informed as much by their style as by their sense of place, and how these experiences of home informed his idea of classicism as a set of values that he applies to many different kinds of architecture in places as varied as the ones he grew up in. Because while Schafer is absolutely a classical architect, he is in fact a modern traditionalist, and A Place to Call Home showcases how he effortlessly interprets traditional principles for a multiplicity of architectural styles within contemporary ways of living.
Sections in Part I include the delicate balance of modern and traditional aesthetics, the juxtaposition of fancy and simple, and the details that make each project special and livable. Schafer also delves into what he refers to as “the spaces in between,” those often overlooked spaces like closets, mudrooms, and laundry rooms, explaining their underappreciated value in the broader context of a home. Part of Schafer’s skill lies in the way he gives the minutiae of a project as much attention as the grand aesthetic gestures, and ultimately, it’s this combination that brings his homes to life.