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    Credit: Noah Kalina

There’s a difference between a house that (however lovely) seems like a reproduction, and one that feels alive. Jim Strickland and his co-writer, Susan Sully, articulate that distinction in the new book Coming Home: The Southern Vernacular House (Rizzoli, $45), which features the work of Strickland’s architecture firm, Historical Concepts. “It may sound counterintuitive, but we rarely enter the design process with the idea of faithfully reproducing a specific style,” he writes. “Rather, the natural setting, the region’s architecture, and the vision of the client are our guides. As a result, the style in which a house is built evolves gradually in a way that is never forced or unnatural.”

Strickland and his team, based in Atlanta and Peachtree City, Ga., draw from a bevy of Southern influences such as 18th- and 19th-century townhouses, rural agricultural buildings, and modest beach cottages. “Although deeply engaged with the built environment of the South, we never lose sight of the architecture of the Northeast, in part because of its historic influence down the Eastern Seaboard,” Strickland writes. The firm uses history to its best advantage, infusing traditional veins with imagination and style.

Coming Home showcases Historical Concepts’ portfolio, highlighting 14 custom homes as well as the town center for the community of Palmetto Bluff, S.C. Lush images of each project, by photographer Richard Leo Johnson and several others, accompany a thoughtful commentary with captions. The projects shown provide invaluable lessons about scale, proportion, and detailing, and the text serves as a useful primer or refresher on traditional Southern architecture.