A few months ago, a well-regarded modern architect urged me to investigate the work of Gil Schafer III. Shortly afterward, I heard about Schafer’s new book, The Great American House. (The book is out this month from Rizzoli New York.) The timing seemed fortuitous, so I obtained a copy and dived in.

I expected a monograph highlighting Schafer’s beautifully proportioned, traditional houses, and the book delivers that. But it also winds an engagingly personal narrative around the lush images. Writing with Marc Kristal, Schafer uses a conversational tone to touch on his own memories of childhood homes, and to explain his design philosophy. “Residential architecture is partly about solving problems and partly about finding a style that is appropriate to the tastes and needs of the residents,” he writes. “But it’s also about creating something beautiful—a resonant background for domestic life.”

As the book’s subtitle, Tradition for the Way We Live Now, suggests, Schafer spends a lot of time pondering how to integrate classical design with contemporary lifestyles. It’s a common challenge, one he and his New York-based firm (and their collaborators) seem to consistently meet. Each project clearly receives a massive amount of thought and care—and the same goes for the creation of this elegant book.