Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style Home - A Timeless Architectural Trend

CEO Khai Intela
Robie House, photo by David Arpi on Flickr Born and raised in the Midwest, there's something undeniably all-American about Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style home. With its distinctive combination of flat roof lines, massive walls...

Robie House Robie House, photo by David Arpi on Flickr

Born and raised in the Midwest, there's something undeniably all-American about Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie Style home. With its distinctive combination of flat roof lines, massive walls of windows, open floor plans, minimal ornamentation, and integration with nature, this architectural style has stood the test of time. It has left an indelible mark on American homes, influencing everything from open concept living to minimalist decor.

So, let's delve deeper into what exactly Prairie Style architecture is, how Frank Lloyd Wright popularized the trend, and how you can incorporate its timeless appeal into your own home.

What is Prairie Style Architecture?

Huertley House Arthur Heurtley House, photo by Teemu008 on Flickr

Imagine a home that seamlessly blends with the surrounding landscape, as if it sprang directly from the earth. That's the essence of Prairie Style architecture, pioneered by visionaries like Frank Lloyd Wright. Originating in the late 19th-century Midwest, particularly Chicago, these homes embraced angular aesthetics, sturdy construction, and a low-profile design. They were meant to harmonize with nature, not overshadow it.

Key characteristics of Prairie Style homes include:

  • Flat rooflines: Overhanging awnings, wide eaves, and low-pitched hipped roofs.
  • Minimal ornamentation: External features showcase the home's durability.
  • Complementing the landscape: Low-profile design allows the home to blend seamlessly into its surroundings.
  • Prominent foundation: Solid and durable materials used in construction.
  • Open and asymmetrical floor plans: Visually captivating with a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Walls of windows: Abundant natural light and a closer connection to nature.

The Frank Lloyd Wright Influence

Prairie House Photo by Zander Betterton on Unsplash

While Prairie Style homes existed before Frank Lloyd Wright, he catapulted them to fame. Following the devastating Great Chicago Fire of 1871, architects aimed to create resilient homes in preparation for Chicago's 1893 World's Fair. Wright, who had moved to the city in 1887, saw an opportunity to contribute to the architectural movement.

Wright's approach was to "destroy the box," emphasizing open spaces, functional design, and an organic connection to nature. He published building plans in 1901, entitled "A House in a Prairie Town," solidifying the name 'Prairie' for this architectural style.

Noteworthy elements that Wright introduced include:

  • Horizontal lines: Influenced by his love for Japanese prints, Wright incorporated horizontal lines in everything from trim to siding.
  • Built-in furniture: Rejecting unrelated art and clutter, Wright featured built-in furniture complemented by precise decor.

How to Furnish and Decorate a Prairie Style Home

If you're aiming to achieve the Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Style look in your home, think sleek, unornamented, and simple. Consider both function and aesthetics, finding pieces that are well-presented and perhaps a little eclectic.

Low, Long, and Horizontal

Choose furniture that is minimal and captures one of the defining characteristics mentioned above. Mid-century modern pieces and certain contemporary designs work well. Incorporate a long bench or sofa, a low-to-the-ground coffee table, solid wood dining tables, and tufted armchairs to create a Prairie Style space.

Elroy Leg Table Elroy Leg Table

Natural Wood, Earth Tones, and Motifs

Opt for furniture made from wood, stone, or glass, and choose solid-color upholstery in earthy tones such as taupe, cream, pale yellow, or terra cotta. Blues and greens can also work well, as long as they are light and solid. Oak furniture, a favorite of Frank Lloyd Wright's, matches the interior woodwork of Prairie Style homes and remains a popular choice for this style today.

Incorporate one shape or plant form and repeat it or use variations throughout the room, maintaining a sense of harmony.

Justine Panel Platform Bed Justine Panel Platform Bed

Japanese-Inspired

Frank Lloyd Wright drew heavy inspiration from Japanese design, embracing its simplicity and harmony with nature. Consider incorporating Japanese themes, furnishing, and decorating to infuse your home with an aura of tranquility, balance, and intriguing beauty. Platform beds or futons offer the horizontal lines and low-to-the-ground profile that accentuate the spatial proportions unique to Prairie Style homes.

Remember, creating a Prairie Style home is about capturing the essence and principles championed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Combine sleek simplicity, natural elements, and an appreciation for the interplay between indoor and outdoor spaces to achieve a timeless aesthetic that pays homage to this iconic American architectural style.

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