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Modern prairie home.

Prairie Style Homes

Morgan McBride4-Minute Read
October 28, 2020

Homes come in many different styles. When you are house hunting, you suddenly become aware of how many styles of architecture there really are, as well as which ones you really like. One less common house style is the prairie style home. This style of home was built primarily in one region during one relatively short time period, but there are many reasons why you might want to buy or build a prairie style home of your own.

What Is A Prairie Style Home?

Prairie style homes are low to the ground with very pronounced roof lines. These homes usually feature earth tones and natural materials and have a lot of strong horizontal lines, emphasized by the roof lines.

Prairie homes first appeared in the 1890’s in the Chicago area. Prior to this time, Victorian style homes were all the rage. Victorian homes are very detailed and ornate. Prairie homes were designed as a return to much simpler architecture and design.

This style of home spread to much of the midwestern United States. Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, prairie style homes bring the outdoors in and blend into the surrounding landscape. They continued to be very popular through the 1920s. You can read more about the history of prairie style homes here.

Characteristics Of Prairie Houses

While no two homes are exactly alike, there are common features that make a home be classified as prairie style. Here are some of the typical characteristics of the exteriors and interiors of traditional prairie style homes as well as modern prairie style homes.

Exterior

Prairie style homes are most identifiable by their exteriors. They are low-profile homes – often one story – with low pitched, hipped roofs. These roofs often have overhanging eaves and prominent, wide chimneys. The wide, flat roofs are meant to represent the wide expanse of an open American prairie.

Those overhanging roofs are often used to create wide and deep porches on the front and all around a home. This gives purpose to the dramatic overhangs, but also creates an indoor-outdoor space. Wright was intent on bringing the outdoors into the home and adding these dramatic porches assisted with that.

These homes are typically built with organic materials, which is great if you prefer an organic, down-to-earth lifestyle. This includes a lot of stone and natural-colored siding. Wood elements are typically stained with very natural looking colors, too. Bricks, trim and wood features are usually oriented horizontally, which contributes to the strong horizontal lines in these homes and the visualization of looking out over the prairie.

Prairie style homes also have very distinct windows. They feature tall, thin windows placed in a row to create one larger window, almost like a wall of glass. This helps to bring the feel of the outdoors inside but also gives the homes a very distinct look from the street. In addition to these windows, there are also often cantilevered floors, which is when an upper floor has an overhang that sticks out over the first floor.

Interior

While the exteriors of prairie style homes are very distinct, there are also common themes with the interior layouts. Prairie style homes were some of the first homes to get rid of lots of little rooms and instead focus on having a wide open floor plan. They were designed to be perfect for entertaining, with an emphasis on living and dining rooms.

Many prairie style homes featured a lot of built-ins. This could be built-in cabinetry, nooks or seating. This was a way to create defined zones within the spacious, open concept interior. These built-ins were usually built from wood and stained a natural color. Built-ins made each home feel very custom.

Modern Prairie Style Homes

If you’d like to purchase a prairie style home, your best bet is looking in Illinois or Wisconsin. If you are outside that area, you could consider custom building a more modern prairie style home. Focus on a prairie style, low-roofed exterior with an open floor plan and lots of windows to bring the outdoors in.

Traditionally, prairie style homes were centered around the living room. More modern homes tend to be centered around the kitchen. So, homeowners who buy prairie style homes might find themselves taking down walls and adding header beams to bring the kitchen into the open entertaining space.

Prairie Style Vs. Craftsman Style

There is often a comparison between prairie and craftsman style houses. They have many similarities but also have several significant differentiating features. Both of these styles resulted as a response to the elaborate and intricate Victorian style of homes with more pulled back, simple lines and designs. If you like the look of a prairie style home but they aren’t available where you live, a more common craftsman can be a good alternative for you.

Both of these styles of homes feature prominent, low roofs with wide overhangs. They both feature natural materials and simple and straightforward lines. Craftsman style homes, especially modern ones, often have an open floor plan similar to that of the prairie style homes.

Prairie style homes are much more modern-looking on the exterior, while craftsman homes appear more traditional. Craftsman porches often feature tapered columns that would not be found on a prairie style home. Prairie style homes often have a tucked away front door, while craftsman front entries are usually centered and prominent on the home. So, while they are similar, they definitely feature distinct styles of architecture.

Where To Find Prairie Style Homes

Historical prairie style homes are most likely to be found in the midwestern United States. Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes were primarily built in Illinois or Wisconsin and can still be found there today. However, many modern architects can design homes in this style in any area if you’re willing to purchase a custom home design and have a custom builder do the work for you. Many websites that offer home plans have entire sections for prairie style homes. If you really want a prairie style home, you can make that happen anywhere that you can find land to build it on.

The Bottom Line

Prairie style homes are a really unique and iconic style in American architecture. If you are lucky enough to live in an area where they are common, they could be a great option for your next home. If you are interested in finding your dream prairie home, speak with a verified Rocket HomesSM Partner Agent to begin your real estate journey.

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    Morgan McBride

    Morgan McBride is a DIY-lover and home decor enthusiast living in Charleston, South Carolina. She has been blogging at CharlestonCrafted.com alongside her husband since 2012, where they empower their readers to craft their current home into their dream home through the power of DIY.