i thoroughly enjoy all of my “mds interviews”, who wouldn’t love the opportunity to get to know more about all these greats that inspire and create so much beauty…

i have especially loved doing this interview with the great gil schafer, not just because i’m a huge admirer of his work, but also because of his level of engagement throughout the interview process. his answers, his direction, his thoughtfulness, his communication and the body of photographs provided has made this very easy. this says something…. it tells me he is all about the details, it’s no wonder that his and architecture is so precise, beautiful, and perfect!

gil has a lot going on right now- amazing things! he is working on both renovation/restoration and new construction; in a variety of scales; that stretch geographically from  New York City and the surrounding countryside to Northern California; from Maine down to southern Georgia; and he’s also working with a client on the design of a house in South America.

i found all the details on what he doing and working on fascinating and exciting…. i have to share…

he  just finished renovating a charming cottage in Marin County and is  just starting the design for the restoration of a grand Italianate house in Presidio Heights in San Francisco.  he’s also final stages of the gut renovation of a large apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York…. he’s also in the midst of restoring an exuberant late 19th century Queen Anne-style mansion in coastal Maine, as well as, construction of a new colonial revival house on the Navesink River in New Jersey.  he’s designing a new family compound on Lake Champlain in Vermont and just finished a new “camp” on Lake Placid in the Adirondacks.

Down in southern Georgia, he’s just about to break ground on a new residence that will be the centerpiece of a large hunting plantation… and he’s just begun construction of a new late-Georgian style stone weekend house in the Hudson Valley.  And out in the Hamptons, he and his team are in the final months of the extensive restoration of a charming turn-of-the-century shingle style cottage and carriage barn, and just starting the design of a new family compound there as well….. i told you everything gil is doing is very exciting, actually it’s remarkable!

here is part 2 of my interview with gil-  i love the second day of the interview, because i get to ask all my favorite people about all of their favorite things… one of my favorite things, if not my favorite thing is gil’s new book, the great american house/ buy here.

thank you gil for taking the time out of your busy schedule and taking a break from all your amazing projects to do this interview… and thank you for doing it so thoughtfully…. it says a lot!

MDS- Currently, what is your favorite Color?

GS- Although it’s hard to single out just one color, say, for the walls of a room, I guess, right now, I would pick a deep orange.  I love the warmth of the color and the way it sets off the architecture (if it’s painted in a crisp warm white) as well as the art.  It’s a wonderful color for a dining room because of that warmth, but it also makes food look great—as it does for everyone sitting around the table.




MDS- What is your favorite Flower?

GS- Most anything that puts a scent in the air—that allows you to enjoy it beyond just when you can see it.  Lilacs, peonies, old-fashioned garden roses, osmanthus (tea olive) which I remember so vividly from my grandmother’s house in Georgia.

The tea olive, climbing roses and jasmine growing along the porch at Gils’s grandmother’s house in Georgia


MDS- What is your favorite Book?

GS- From childhood, The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois—for its whimsical drawings and its fantastic, almost science fiction-like story, all composed around houses.

 And from right now, John Meacham’s biography of Thomas Jefferson—a remarkable insight into the life and mind of our nation’s third president, and one of its most inventive architects.



MDS- What is your favorite restaurant?

GS- Anywhere that I don’t have to cook!  And in my neighborhood in New York City, Blue Hill.




MDS- What is your favorite Accessory?

GS- There are two: my camera and my sketchbook.  The former because I love to take pictures wherever I go, and the latter because you get true insight into the design of something when you have to sit and sketch it.  Plus it’s the only way I remember anything these days!

Gil’s Sketchbook



 MDS- What is your favorite gift to give or receive?

GS- It’s always more fun to give than to receive!  Obviously it depends on the person, but I love to find something beautiful and old that fits the person to whom it will be given—such as an out-of-print book or an object found in the back of an antique shop somewhere during a trip.

Boxwood in Nashville- the gift of Gil’s work



MDS- Who is your favorite Artist?

GS- I find that changes all the time, and I’m fairly eclectic in my taste—everything from a 19th century Currier & Ives print to a Rothko or Brice Marden painting.  Lately I’ve been focused on sporting art for a shooting plantation we’re working on, and it’s drawn me back to the work of the American Impressionist, Frank Benson.  His sporting pictures have no equal, but he was also a master at capturing a still life or his daughters on a bluff overlooking the sea on a breezy afternoon. His paintings have an easy, painterly style that feels spontaneous and joyous.

19th century Currier and Ives Print

Frank Weston Benson- Indian Guide

Frank Weston Benson- Summer

MDS- What is your favorite Indulgence?

GS- An afternoon nap!

A perfect place for an afternoon nap – A living room in the Hudson Valley designed in collaboration with the decorator Miles Redd



 MDS- What is your favorite store?

GS- Hard to pick just one, but here in the States: Rural Residence in Hudson, New York, is a perennial favorite—for its owner Tim Dunleavy’s unfailing good eye and sense of whimsy.  And in London, I love Guinevere—to inspire you with every imaginable beautiful object, all organized by color.

Rural Residence in Hudson, New York


Guinevere in London


MDS- What is your favorite Vacation spot?

GS- To tune out and unwind: the coast of Maine in August.  To be inspired: anywhere there is great architecture and great gardens.

Maine in August

Wirtz Garden


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