Frank Lloyd Wright – perhaps America’s best-known architect – is credited with creating the Prairie style house plan in the early twentieth century. As a young architect working with architect Louis Sullivan in Chicago, Sullivan and Wright’s main goal was to design structures which were organic and which blended with their natural surroundings. The basic Prairie style features strong horizontal lines with cantilevers and large, overhanging eaves. Interiors of buildings were informal and cozy, echoing the relaxed spirit of the American Midwest.
Wright intended the Prairie style to be an affordable, suburban home for people who work in the city and need space to destress and connect with nature when they return from their days on the job. Long horizontal lines dominate the Prairie style; Prairie structures are longer than they are tall, and their windows, masonry, and stucco are used in such a way as to accentuate the linear design. The roofs are low-pitched to blend with the lines of the flat prairie, and eaves are employed to offer deep, overhanging spaces. Prairie home interiors usually revolve around a central hearth and feature abstract or geometric shapes. Both interiors and exteriors feature earth-toned colors which mimic the shades to be found in nature.
Although a century old, Prairie house floor plans are still popular today because they emphasize the use of organic design and sustainable materials. The style has a light, airy design which blends in with its environment, often using skylights to bring natural light into the home. Prairie style homes frequently have a common room and no hallway on the first floor. The floor plan follows a modular grid design which uses only right angles; and hardwood floor, wooden columns, interior wood accents, and stained or art glass windows provide interior ornamentation. Prairie style homes feature the colors found in nature, such as browns, tans, greens, and rusts; as well as wood tones of dark or medium brown both on exteriors and interiors.
Horizontal bands of wood on interior walls is also a common feature of Prairie design. Walls may be skim-coated with rough or sand textured plaster to emphasize the organic nature of this style. Paint glaze, or suede technique for walls, gives them additional depth and texture. Some of the woods commonly employed in Prairie house plans include birch, oak, and maple; but any native species fits the Prairie ideal of using sustainable, local materials. Stencils with Prairie style designs, often inspired by nature or geometric patterns, are sometimes used to fill in the space between the windows and ceiling. The overall look is one of straight, horizontal lines; a large and low porch flanked by square columns; wide central chimneys and upper stories; clay tile roofs with wide eaves which provide cooling shade from the sunny expanse of the prairie.
Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Sullivan conceived Prairie house floor plans to be a wholly functional adaptation to the suburban prairie environment. The Prairie style house plan is designed to provide maximum livability with a simple design, so these house plans blend into their environments unobtrusively and employ sustainable materials.
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