The Frank Lloyd Wright Guide to Designing Your Dream Home

frank lloyd wright

Portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright

In the humble beginnings of my Architecture career you could find me in a dark classroom viewing slides of iconic buildings found throughout history. I loved hearing stories about the crazy conductors we call Architects. One of which was Frank Lloyd Wright.

He’s a prime example of the great lengths a devoted Architect will go to see his vision come to reality.

I remember the story of when, during construction of Fallingwater, a house in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, engineers loudly voiced their opinion about the structural integrity of the home. The structural engineers discovered that the cantilevered overhangs were not strong enough to support the weight above.

Wright insisted that they pour the concrete and continue with construction.

After the concrete had set, he walked out to the edge of the surface over the creek and jumped up and down to make his case. Nothing budged. Case closed.

That house continues to this day to be one of the most famous homes in America. But the bitter taste of “I told you so” might be making Wright turn in his grave. The sad truth is that only a few months after construction was complete it was discovered that the overhangs were in fact not designed correctly and began to sag horribly.

That story about Frank Lloyd Wright has stuck with me many years later for several reasons. I think it demonstrates the commitment it takes to design and build your dream home. The unflinching vision you must maintain throughout the process. But more importantly, it leads me to the first step in designing your dream home: be stubborn.

Be Stubborn

Fallingwater, Kaufmann Residence

Fallingwater, One of Wright’s Greatest Masterpieces / Photo

On the last day of construction it will be official: this is YOUR home now. One that you will live in for many years. Maybe even the rest of your life.

If we can learn anything from Frank Lloyd Wright, it’s the importance of being stubborn on vision. On countless occasions he found himself on the brink of financial collapse and risked his career in order to see his now famous designs come to life.

In the end it worked out for him, and it will work for you too.

Designing not just a home, but your dream home, requires more than just a set of plans and a stack of wood. It takes a vision and a dream. You must be committed and stubborn about seeing this vision to the end. So, what’s your dream?

Look to Nature for Inspiration

Robie House

Robie House, Classic Example of Prairie Style Architecture / Photo

The Prairie Style architecture pioneered by Frank Lloyd Wright was known for the low-pitched roof and horizontal lines that connected the house to the landscape.

Even before you start designing your dream home, the initial inspiration must come from nature. The way a home connects with the landscape around it will change not only the function of the home, but also the spirit of the interior spaces.

How a home is situated on the site is absolutely critical to get right from the very beginning. Not only does it affect the way spaces are used but it will cause changes in your energy and heating expenses, views, property value and available natural light.

Looking to nature for inspiration begins by visiting your property and looking for clues. What natural elements are currently there? How can your house be designed to make the best use of these resources?

Create Interior Unity

Fallingwater, Interior

Sitting Area inside Fallingwater / Photo

The open living spaces that are so common today were actually new design trend during time of Prairie Style Architecture. Wright believed in the power of creating Unity between spaces. His designs were a direct departure from the Victorian Style homes that came before him. These new open designs left opportunities for natural light to reach spaces deep in the center of the home.

With today’s modern living requirements, it’s more important than ever to develop unity between spaces. Make connections between the kitchen, living and dining areas to improve function and maximize space.

Understand how hallways or transitions between spaces can be designed to better utilize the space and create new opportunities.

Obsess Over the Details

All of the pieces in your house must come together perfectly. Design is all about the details. Nothing else.

Wright became one of the most famous Architects in America by obsessing over the details. From where the house was built, to the materials, and method of construction – it was all important to Wright. Your dream house is no exception.

From the direction of your bedroom window to the finish on your kitchen cabinets, all of the details matter. Because if they don’t matter to you, then it’s just another house – not your dream house.

What details are most important to you?

Don’t Forget the Furniture

Wright was interested in furniture design as much as he was Architecture. Often believing that you could not have one without the other. He gave careful consideration to how the furniture would be placed within a room and frequently designed custom built-in pieces.

Furniture should not be an afterthought. It should match the architectural style and design of the home. Your furniture must reflect the detail and materials used in the overall house design.

Designing your dream home requires putting many pieces of a complex architectural puzzle together carefully. As you can see there are many aspects to consider.

The home design process is fun and exciting. Take your time, be stubborn and do the Wright thing.