Welcome back to “That’s an Interesting Looking Home!” This week we’re moving into the modern era and looking at Prairie or Frank Lloyd Wright style homes. However, be aware that not all Prairie style homes are Frank Lloyd Wright homes. Just like all bourbons are whiskeys, but not all whiskeys are bourbons, but that’s another story for another day.
Wonder what the differences are? Great question! Let’s get started at the Prairie style’s very foundation. Do you see what I did there? It was a nerdy architecture joke…moving on.
Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Style
As a reaction to what some have called grotesque Victorian style, many home builders stripped elaborate decorative elements from the design. Constructing simpler structures that blended in with their environment became more important than elaborate vergeboard on every single surface of the exterior.
Frank Lloyd Wright pioneered the Prairie style, which set the design standard for environment-centric homes. From using natural materials like wood to a low-profile design that seemed to blend right into the background, Prairie homes quickly became a popular home style around the turn of the 20th century and remained so into the mid-1920s.
Wright even took his homes to the next level by incorporating elements of nature into the home itself. The epitome of Wright’s works that exemplify his idea of the Prairie style is Fallingwater.
Aside from the distinct look of Prairie style homes, a key feature of them is that Wright also designed the furniture and built-in features for each home. From tables, chairs, lamps, windows and sometimes even clothing, Wright wanted to ensure that every element of the home worked in harmony together.
Wright also sought to protect families from the dangers of society with his homes. One way this is accomplished is by hiding the entry door behind a wall or fence. In other cases, the entryway is placed in the back of the house. Additionally, homes are placed in the back of lots and obstructed by landscaping.
Wright’s Prairie style homes are mostly located in the Midwest and are one of the few American architectural styles not influenced by European architecture.
Other Key Features:
- Earth-tone colored exteriors
- Geometrically shaped design
- Low-pitched roofs
- Emphasis on horizontal lines
- Large chimneys
- Long, overhanging eaves
- Little decorative features on the exterior
- Open-floor plan design
- Lots of large windows for natural light
American Foursquare or Prairie Box Style
Wright’s home designs evolved into more of a colloquial usage through the American Foursquare style. They retain many of the same qualities as their older counterparts but also tend to incorporate elements from other home styles.
The American Foursquare spread in popularity thanks to the 1893 Columbian Exposition, more popularly known as the Chicago World’s Fair. Their simplicity and design made them easy and economical to reproduce. A few years later, you could purchase these homes from the Sears catalog. That’s right, you could pick out your new home and have it mailed to you. Check out this ad featuring one!
Prairie Boxes share a few similarities with their more traditional counter parts. Like their predecessor, they have low-pitched roofs with long, overhanging eaves and seemingly blend into their background with earth-tone colors.
The differences between the two are more noticeable. Wright’s Prairie homes are considerably more complex in design, unlike the simple cube shape of American Foursquare. This newer style also merged decorative elements from previous home styles to make them more visually appealing. Most notably, you can pretty much identify the main entryway of the house.
Other Key Features:
- Center dormer on the roof
- Large front porch over the entry way
- Simple floor plan
- Hipped or pyramid-style roof
Is there a particular home style you want to learn about? Share with other Zing readers and we’ll talk about it in our next post!