Arts and Crafts Master: The Houses and Gardens of M. H. Baillie Scott
by Ian MacDonald-Smith
(Rizzoli, 2010, 240 pages)
This book is a beautiful collection of M. H. Baillie Scott’s (1865-1945) Arts and Crafts style homes. These homes, mainly located in the U.K., are characterized by their tiled fireplaces, large halls, and simple use of local materials. The Arts and Crafts movement recovered elements of a medieval aesthetic and emphasized skill of craftsman. These emphases are obvious in the beautiful wood and stonework displayed in these homes.
Baillie Scott’s homes were designed mainly for middle class families in an attempt to make beauty, excellence, and simplicity in design more widely available. In his introductory essay, MacDonald-Smith quotes Baillie Scott’s principle that
“there should be no arbitrary division between construction and decoration…Everywhere construction is decorative and decoration constructive, and when the builder’s work is done the paperhanger and painter only help, by pattern and colour, to put finishing touches to a construction which has already gone far to make the building beautiful.” (8)
This principle is clearly displayed in the homes featured. The natural materials used in the construction are showcased in beamed ceilings, colorful plaster, and intricate tiles. Much of the furniture is even built-in – mainly in the form of the “inglenooks.” These recessed fireplaces with built-in wooden benches serve as living spaces adjacent to larger rooms, and they are found in many of Baillie Scott’s homes. MacDonald-Smith’s helpful essays and wonderfully executed photographs serve these homes well.