8 Reasons to Build a Prairie Style Home!

Debra Lopez

March 29, 2021

Have you been dreaming about building a new home? Do you want something different that isn’t the same architectural styles you’ve seen everywhere? Would you like a house that works well on a large lot or a flat, open space? You know you’d like a home that looks modern yet has a warm, welcoming feeling. You also love a blend of indoor and outdoor living. But are you considering new construction in the Menomonee Falls area?

If so, then you want a Prairie-style home from Joseph Douglas Homes. But first, what is Prairie-style architecture?

First seen in the upper Midwest in the late 1800s, Prairie-style houses are a uniquely and truly American architectural style. Frank Lloyd Wright originally designed this type of bungalow as a reflection and expression of the US prairies with its straight roofline, low-profile proportions, walls of windows, and integration into the landscape.

Prairie School-style homes have solid construction, are made with high-quality craftsmanship, and use limited intricate decoration. These are sensible, logical homes designed with a relaxed flow from the inside to the outdoors and use natural materials such as brick, stone, and wood. The perfect architectural style for the large lots and open spaces for new construction in the Menomonee Falls area.

More About The Prairie Style Home

The first thing you will notice about Prairie-style homes is that they have very pronounced horizontal rooflines.  This gives the impression of the structure being low to the ground. Although they can be two stories tall, the house’s height is not emphasized, unlike many other styles of architecture. Frank Lloyd Wright was highly influenced by Japanese art and its long horizontal lines, so everything in his Prairie-style homes is oriented this way.

The structure’s exterior generally features earth tone colors with stone, brick, or wood – especially cedar – accents. First appearing in the 1890s, these homes were designed as a contrast to the very popular and overly colorful and ornate Victorian styles. Victorian homes’ exteriors are usually painted with several vibrant colors and have “gingerbread” highlighting the windows, across the porches, and roof lines. They were often described as “Painted Ladies.”

On the inside, traditional Victorian homes have lots of small, separate rooms – each one having a different purpose. Depending on the overall structure’s size, these residences might offer a lady’s parlor, a formal living room, a formal dining room, a music room, a man’s study, a closed-off kitchen at the back of the house, and more.

In contrast, Prairie-style homes were and still are built with simple, clean lines both inside and out, with little or no decorative ornamentation. Frank Lloyd Wright designed these homes to flow from one room to the next. He wanted the entire first floor to feel like a single large space. Then he made the exterior to match the interior instead of the other way around. “Form follows function” was his motto.

The popularity of the Prairie-style residence quickly spread across the United States. There are also several examples of it in the new construction in the Menomonee Falls area.

Main Characteristics of Prairie-Style Houses

Although no two Prairie-style homes may be alike, they all have some common features. Here are the main exterior and interior characteristics of this architecture style.

  • Exteriors

As mentioned earlier, Prairie-style residences are easily identifiable by their low-profile roof lines and large overhanging eaves. Sometimes, they have prominent chimneys. The structure’s horizontal lines are meant to reflect the American heartland’s wide-open prairies and how serene and simple they are.

The eaves – sometimes overhanging as much as four feet – can create lovely and dramatic covered porches and offer indoor-outdoor spaces for entertaining. Wright designed this aspect to bring the outdoors inside the home seamlessly.

Typically built with organic and natural materials, these homes also offer a down-to-earth lifestyle for the family who lives there. These structures are usually made with wood siding and stone or brick. Prairie-style homes use natural colored stains to allow the wood grain to show, and all the trim pieces – whether brick, stone, or wood – are horizontally oriented. Tan, taupe, brown, beige, drab green, burnt umber, gray-blues, and other muted colors are generally used indoors and out.

Additionally, Prairie-style homes feature tall windows all in a row for a very distinctive look. They are placed side-by-side to create a large wall of glass to help bring in the feel of the outdoors. It also gives this style of architecture a completely different look from every other type of house. Sometimes, the architecture will include cantilevered second floors. These floors will overhang the first floor to shade a covered porch or outdoor area and give the entire structure a very contemporary vibe.

  • Interiors

Prairie-style interior layouts can also be quite distinct, but there are common themes from one Prairie home to the next. As mentioned earlier, unlike Victorian homes, Prairie-style houses eliminated all those little rooms to focus on a wide-open floor plan. Their floor plans emphasize and encourage people to gather in living and dining rooms and are ideal for entertaining.

To create some quiet zones in this open interior, many Prairie-style residences also have cozy reading nooks, small offices, or built-in cabinetry for corner seating spaces. These spots usually have natural-colored stained or white wood cabinetry and are uniquely custom-made for each home and each family’s interests.  Because Wright disliked the Victorian way of decorating with unrelated furniture, artwork, and knickknacks, he also created furniture, lighting, art, and accessories to work in harmony with these home’s interiors.

Traditional Prairie-style floor plans usually centered themselves around the living room. However, today’s Prairie-style houses focus on the kitchen. This brings the cooking center into the entertaining space of current homes.

Craftsman vs. Prairie-style Houses

Unfortunately, it is very easy to confuse two similar architectural styles: The Craftsman and the Prairie-style house.

  • Both were a response to the overly ornate and elaborate Victorian homes.
  • Both styles feature wide overhangs from prominent, low roof lines.
  • Both types of architecture highlight simple lines and natural materials.
  • And both kinds of interiors have an open floor plan.

You can compare them, but they also have several significant differences. For example, Prairie-style exteriors are much sleeker and more modern, while Craftsman exteriors are more traditional looking. Craftsman front entryways are generally in the center of the building and are quite prominent and have a covered porch, while Prairie-style entry front doors are usually set back, which offers a bit more privacy. Front porches on the Craftsman home feature tapered columns with conspicuous stone or brick bases. Prairie-style structures either don’t have any columns or are the same width from top to bottom.

Similar, yes, but not the same. A true Prairie-style house stresses the flow of interior and exterior living and easy movement from one area of the home to another with clean lines and modern-looking accents. Check out the new construction in the Menomonee Falls area to compare different styles of homes.

Reasons To Build A Prairie-Style Home

Now that you’ve gotten to know more about Prairie-style homes, what are some of the best reasons to choose this style of architecture for your new residence? Additionally, which construction company should you hire? Read on to learn more.

1) Perfect For Entertaining

Do you enjoy having friends and family gather in your home? Are you the first one to volunteer your house when someone suggests throwing a party? One of the best reasons to choose a Prairie-style home is because the floor plan is ideal for entertaining. No little rooms break up the space, making it difficult for people to socialize. Each space flows into the next, eliminating walls and obstructions. Older Prairie-style homes preferred to hide the kitchen behind a separate division and only blended living and dining areas. More contemporary versions of this architecture now include the kitchen into the open floor plan.

2) Great Flow From Inside And Outside

Not only is it simpler to move throughout the interior of the home, but this architecture also allows an easy flow from the interior to the outdoors. Double doors leading to covered decks and open porches draw people outside. Sunrooms filled with plants bring the outdoors in. Instead of designing a home based on the exterior layout, Prairie-style houses first determine what the interior needs to be. Then, it creates the outer walls with a purposeful traffic flow from inside and out.

3) Built With High-Quality Craftsmanship

Prairie-style homes use handcrafted and high-quality glass and woodwork as interior artwork. These enhancements and beautiful touches are not overly detailed or excessive but are subtly built into the structure. Things such as furniture, light fixtures, and even windows with pretty mullions are considered an essential part of the home and thought of as art. These lovely handcrafted pieces prevent homeowners from removing the unique features. New construction in the Menomonee Falls area can offer unique architecture like this.

4) Walls of Windows

Also helping to bring in the outdoors, large floor-to-ceiling windows highlight the open floor plan. Some of the windows may have pieces of colored glass added, some in shapes of flowers and vines, and others in squares and rectangles. Natural light-filled rooms offer warmth and sunlight, helping to cut down on utility bills as well.

Sunlight provides health benefits by boosting Vitamin D, keeping your immune system strong. Even when staying indoors, sunlight can boost your mood, improve your outlook, and alleviate depression. Frank Lloyd Wright created his architectural designs to be in harmony with nature. He firmly believed that by doing so, the families who lived in his houses would improve their health and well-being.

5) Simple and Natural Materials

Natural materials are allowed to shine in their purest forms in Prairie-style homes. Woodwork is kept simple and uncarved so that the wood grain can be admired and appreciated. Large and small stones are used in the design of the exterior and the fireplace hearth. Nature-inspired themes and simple touches like square pendant lights over the kitchen island are added to the home without going to extremes. Furniture, lighting, artwork, etc., maintain simple lines, muted colors, and soft textures. Nothing too formal or fancy will look right in this style of home.

6) Unique and Iconic Architecture

Homes built in the Prairie-style have a lasting, classic appeal. It is doubtful that twenty, thirty, or even fifty years from now, it will look dated and out of style. Additionally, these homes can be custom-built for a family’s needs – both now and in the future – so that families can remain in their dream home for decades without needing to expand or upgrade.

Neither the interior nor exterior of a Prairie-style home should be decorated with flashy finishes or elaborate designs. Their impressiveness comes from the strong presence of these quality-built homes and not from its grandiose, formal décor.

7) Blend With the Landscape

Unlike Victorian homes designed to stand out, Prairie-style residences are built to blend in with the surrounding landscape. Long, horizontal rooflines, earth tone colors, wood and stone exteriors seamlessly flow into the trees and lawns around the structure. No bold statements or vivid colors from these homes!

8) A Strong Presence

Although they blend in, it’s also impossible to miss how a Prairie-style home radiates strength. Because it feels connected to the earth, its firm foundation creates the environment of it being a stable and immobile structure. These homes stand the test of time.

Build A Prairie-Style Home With Joseph Douglas Homes

This is the perfect style for growing families who love to be outside, hosting big family gatherings, and entertaining friends. Add a screened-in porch to the back of the house to enjoy summer evenings without mosquitoes. Or add a fire pit to the backyard to relax around on crisp fall days.

However, if you’re looking to downsize, having everything located on one level also makes it convenient for retired couples. An extra bedroom or two can be used for craft areas, a quiet reading space, or overnight visits with grandchildren.

If a Prairie-style structure is the one for you, Joseph Douglas Homes can make it happen. Joseph Douglas Homes has been building custom homes for more than twenty years. As the winner in several MBAs Parade of Homes, they’ve been awarded the “Best Overall House” and the “People’s Choice Award.” Plus, they have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and have an outstanding reputation across southeastern Wisconsin. You can trust Joseph Douglas Homes to help you be completely satisfied with the process and outcome!

Building a custom home can sometimes be complicated. The Joseph Douglas professional staff will explain the process in terms you will understand. Additionally, they have one-stop shopping for selecting finishes, provide in-house design services, and offer a “no surprises” price for your home.

With quality craftsmanship, outstanding designs, and competitive pricing, Joseph Douglas Homes will turn your dream home into a reality. Make an appointment to tour their Prairie-style model home – The Southampton – to see their high-quality work for yourself. You’ll understand how to decorate a Prairie-style home, how the rooms flow together, and how it works with the other new construction in the Menomonee Falls area.

If you prefer, the professionals can also design a custom home to meet your needs and specifications. Contact them today and make your dreams come true!


Meet the Author

Debra Lopez

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