How to Decorate the Right Prairie Style Home
Mid-century Modern furniture works in a contemporary Prairie Style Home.
Pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 20th century, Prairie style homes were designed to echo the scale of flat Midwestern land, with an emphasis on horizontal lines and low roofs. The homes usually consisted of wings that flanked a central space centered by a fireplace, utilizing open connections between spaces and large, tall glass windows. Today’s Prairie-style design sets the stage for minimal decor that emphasizes the use of natural materials and geometric forms.
Prairie Style Home Decor
In cohesion with Wright’s vision of modernity, many original Prairie style homes had built-in furnishings, like shelves, cabinets and benches, as a means of avoiding the clutter and eclecticism of Victorian decor. To stay consistent with this ethos, select furniture that is minimal in design and echoes the low-ceiling and horizontal lines of the home. Long benches or chaise lounges and low and long coffee tables are good choices. Though Wright’s original Prairie houses were outfitted with wood furniture in specific, geometric-inspired wood forms, you can draw inspiration from different periods to update your home. For example, midcentury Modern furniture designs often took cues from Wright’s earlier Prairie-style work, as do certain contemporary designs.
Natural Wood and Earth Tones
The Prairie school of design embraced the use of high-quality natural materials in an attempt to achieve luxury through an organic way of living. Oak wood, slate and other stones were commonly used materials. In decorating your Prairie style house, choose pieces made of wood, stone and glass, with solid-color upholstery in rich natural fabrics. Colors that harmonize well with these materials are earth tones like taupe, terra cotta, cream and pale yellow.
Frank Lloyd Wright took inspiration from the spare, geometric simplicity of Japanese design, so some Japanese-style touches are not amiss in a contemporary Prairie style home. A cedar wood-worked screen or sliding door complements horizontal lines, and a low-to-the-ground tatami mat or futon is a sitting or sleeping solution that emphasizes the unique spatial proportions of the Prairie home.
Look for antique or antique-inspired Prairie-style art glass windows, doors or lighting fixtures, or Prairie-inspired tile accents that feature geometric designs or plant motifs. Nature-oriented folk art and textiles, particularly those with an American West or Southwest theme, are reminiscent of Wright’s appreciation for the region and the evolution of the Prairie-style form. Terra-cotta sculptures or friezes are another way to bring an authentic, and organic, style to the home.