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Prairie Style Defined


on February 14, 2023


Prairie Style home design and architecture is a unique and elegant style that was popularized in the early 20th century. The Prairie Style is characterized by its low-pitched roofs, horizontal lines, and an emphasis on natural materials. For many homeowners, Prairie Style is still a popular choice in design today, and for good reason. The natural elegance of this style lends itself to both humble and extravagant homes, all while remaining grounded by the natural materials and the inspiration it takes from surrounding nature. 

Going Back to Prairie Design Roots 

When you think of Prairie Style home design, you are almost guaranteed to think of Frank Lloyd Wright. He and other architects in the Chicago area combined the use of natural materials made popular by the Arts and Crafts movement with the writings and philosophies of Louis Sullivan, sometimes called the “father of modernism,” to create a sleek, interesting, and versatile design style that offers both a polished yet inviting look. This impressive balance between all the best comforts of nature and home alongside more modern design trends is what gives Prairie Style home design its longevity. 

The prevailing idea in Prairie Style design is that the architecture of a home should be defined by its surrounding landscape, not the other way around. While to-the-letter Prairie homes are few and far between these days, elements of the style have endured and are commonly found in single-story, ranch-style homes across the country today, especially in the Midwest.

What Design Elements Define Prairie Style? 

Taking after the landscape that inspired their name, Prairie Style homes are designed to fit in with and exemplify the flat, open landscape of the prairie. These homes are built using natural materials and are informed by the nature around them, creating a oneness with the earth that is hard to come by in other design styles. 

Specifically, Prairie Style homes often feature: 

  • Low profile (they’re almost exclusively single-story homes)
  • Smooth, horizontal lines
  • Connected indoor and outdoor spaces
  • Expansive windows
  • Handmade craftsmanship 
  • Wood, stone, or stucco exteriors
  • Use of natural materials in interior build elements
  • Open layouts

If these design elements sound familiar, it is because elements of the Prairie Style evolved into the Craftsman and Farmhouse styles as well. 

Windows and Doors for Prairie Style Homes

Ultimately, choosing the right windows and doors for a Prairie Style home or Prairie Style-inspired home is all about maximizing natural light and natural materials. For those who want to stay as true to the original design principles as possible, Prairie Style windows may be an ideal choice. 

However, they are not the only choice. Here are a few other window ideas to make your home blend in with its surrounding landscape well. 

Picture Windows

Following the ideals of bringing the essence of nature into your home, large expanses of uninterrupted glass found in picture windows offer stunning, uninterrupted views and great natural light. 

Awning Windows

For those in climates that see a lot of rain, thunderstorms, and other inclement weather, awning windows are a great choice. Thanks to the outward hinge at the top, awning windows allow you to let the fresh air and sounds of surrounding nature in without inviting the elements into your home as well. 

Bow and Bay Windows

Bow and bay windows allow you to feel a little closer to nature by extending beyond your home’s exterior wall. The way these windows are constructed includes large center expanses of glass as well as side panels that give you a more robust view of the landscape outside, aligning well with the principles of Prairie Style home design. 

Doors for Prairie Style Homes

As for doors, choosing a natural material or finish is the way to go for Prairie Style homes. Pairing your door with sidelight windows, transom windows, or both is an excellent way to utilize Prairie Style design principles and make your home’s entryway a showstopper. 

Add a Little Prairie Style Design to Your Home With Pella

Whatever elements of Prairie Style design you enjoy most, the professionals at Pella can help you bring to life with high-quality windows and doors. Request a consultation to get started today.

Schedule a free consultation to find windows and doors for your home.