Planning a Prairie Style House

Designed specifically with the American Midwest in mind, prairie style houses make a statement all their own. This distinct school of architecture was popularized by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright, who patterned the houses' horizontal lines after the region's rolling prairies. This early 20th-century creation is still beloved today. Explore the possibilities and see if a prairie style home is right for you.

What to Expect Prairie houses combine simplicity and comfort with beauty and integrity in a style that's uniquely Midwestern. At once modern and historic, these two-plus story houses look like nothing that came before them, appearing to rise from the earth with their stone or brick foundations and low-pitched roofs accented with low chimneys. The broad roofs also feature wide, overhanging eaves to accent the horizontal design.

Heavy masonry piers support wide porches, while balconies and terraces will typically extend in multiple directions beyond the house to create protected outdoor areas. Large windows are common and will sometimes feature small decorative panes or patterns. Inside, you'll typically find open layouts with large, airy rooms, a bonus for modern homebuyers, as well as distinctive cantilevered floors.

How to Customize a Prairie Home A prairie style house belongs on a rural lot or in a smaller city where it can be the star of the block. The horizontal patterns of the exterior will lead into a sensible, minimally decorated interior. Porches and overhangs are favorites for prairie style house plans, so let these trends inform the design of your outdoor living space. A sheltered patio or a large overhang flanked by colorful landscaping would be equally at home in front of a prairie style house.

Prairie style homes tend to have minimal decoration, owing to their Midwestern sensibility, so interiors should put more emphasis on function and the natural beauty of the home itself than on flashy finishes and decor. Decorative wood elements add style without overpowering the simplicity of the home itself. Thanks to the large central chimney, the focal point of the main room will likely be a hearth, so prairie homeowners would do well to play up the concept of the hearth as the heart of the house.

Open floor plans that allow people to easily flow through the house are typical of the style. Develop a cohesive style for setting common areas apart from one another, like slightly different color palettes or decorative elements that mark the transition between rooms. This house style typically features multiple built-ins; more complex prairie plans might have projecting rooms or wings, which would be great places for a home office or art studio and also impart an asymmetrical look to the home.

Large ribbon windows are also common for prairie style house plans. Try using art glass, a favorite technique of Prairie School architecture, to filter light and cut down on glare while eliminating the need for heavy curtains or drapes. Designers can add built-in seating near the windows for a cozy nook that's perfect for enjoying the morning sun with a cup of coffee.

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