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Elegant but stuck in N.Y.

February 23, 2006|Gayle Pollard-Terry

Style and Grace

African Americans at Home

Michael Henry Adams

Bulfinch Press, $19.95


This soft cover coffee-table book should be subtitled "Black New Yorkers at Home," and therein lies the weakness of this collection of sumptuous homes. The author, an architectural historian, features only New Yorkers, a typical example of East Coast bias that ignores the stylistic endeavors of those west of the Hudson River, let alone the African Americans with lovely abodes in Los Angeles.

That objection aside, he elegantly presents a fascinating slice of the homes of such celebrities as hip-hop maven Russell Simmons, Rep. Charles B. Rangel and photographer Gordon Parks.

The book features 21 homes, including the author's.

The homes and styles, while diverse, reflect the African American heritage of the occupants in decor elements such as African artifacts, musical instruments mixed with black memorabilia, photographs and paintings.

Mick Hales artfully photographs the rooms, especially the colorful ones -- the pumpkin, pastel pink and lemon chiffon walls of a Dutch Colonial home in New Rochelle, the crimsons and golds of a painter's retreat in New Rochelle Heights and the coffee and cream of a Hamptons summer home.

One could spend hours examining the photos and gathering ideas.

-- Gayle Pollard-Terry

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