Build a Frank Lloyd Wright-Inspired Dream Home

Home Plans For Prairie, Usonian, and Other Frank Lloyd Wright Inspirations

Frederick Robie house, Chicago, exterior east cantilever and south bedroom cantilever, the soffits have been replastered and painted their original color
Frederick Robie House Cantilever Restoration, Chicago. Photo by Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust/Archive Photos/Getty Images (cropped)

You are smitten with the very first Frank Lloyd Wright house you've ever been in. You stumbled upon taking a tour of Graycliff, an out-of-the-way site overlooking Lake Erie. You are attracted to that rambling, comfortable Prairie design. It feels like you. Then you explore the Robie House in Chicago, and you know you have fallen in love.  Wouldn't it be nice if you could just copy Wright's blueprints and build a brand new house, exactly like one that Wright designed? Sorry. It's illegal to copy his original plans—the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation keeps a tight rein on intellectual property rights. Even unbuilt Usonian plans are heavily protected.

However, there's another way—you can build a house that is inspired by the work of the famous American architect.  To build a new house that resembles a Frank Lloyd Wright original, check out these reputable publishers. They offer knock-offs of Prairie, Craftsman, Usonian, and other styles designed with organic architecture in mind. Look for the common architectural elements that are freely copied. Old ways become new again.

Detail of horizontal and vertical lines of the Andrew F.H. Armstrong House by Frank Lloyd Wright
Andrew F.H. Armstrong House in Ogden Dunes, Indiana by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1939. Photo by Farrell Grehan / Corbis Documentary / Getty Images

Houseplans.com has a wonderful collection of linear, land-hugging homes similar to Frank Lloyd Wright's Prairie style houses. You will think you're in the Robie House original.

What to look for in a Wright design? Look at the details of Wright's Andrew F.H. Armstrong home shown here. Built in Indiana in 1939, this private home has the iconic combination of vertical and horizontal lines—simple geometric forms made interesting. More »

02
of 05
Oscar B. Balch House, Oak Park, Illinois, Built in 1911
Oscar B. Balch House, Oak Park, Illinois, Built in 1911. Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

With strong horizontal lines, wide porches, and cantilevered floors, the Prairie Style House Plans from ePlans.com do a good job of reflecting Wright's ideas. The plan collection includes nice examples of the classic American Foursquare home, also known as the "Prairie Box." A consideration when choosing house plans, however, is how dominant do you want the entrance to be?

The biography of Frank Lloyd Wright is filled with stories of success, fame, and scandal. By 1911, Wright had returned to America from Europe, where he had escaped with his mistress. In spite of the scandal, he was still popular and brilliant as an architect. Oscar B. Balch enlisted Wright to design a home in Oak Park. Wright was forever experimenting with styles, creating and then modifying the architecture "box" that had become the private home. The 1911 Balch home displays elements that are often copied—horizontal orientation, flat roof overhangs, decorated windows in a line along the roof line. What the Balch house also has is a somewhat hidden entrance. Instead, ground-level walls form a protective barrier for the client's privacy—perhaps a manifestation of the architect's state of mind, as well. More »

The A.W. Gridley House in Batavia, Illinois, 1906
The A.W. Gridley House in Batavia, Illinois, 1906. Photo By Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images (cropped)

The Prairie Plans offered by ArchitecturalDesigns.com are truly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's designs. In this collection, the sweeping horizontal lines of Prairie architecture mingle with Ranch styles and modernist ideas—hugging the earth on the outside, just like Wright did with this design he called "the Ravine House." And if the interiors of these commercial prairie plans are not prairie-like enough, modify these stock plans to open the floor plan on the inside.

The 1906 A.W. Gridley home in Batavia, Illinois is one of Wright's rambling Prairie School homes. Mrs. Gridley is known to have commented that she could stand in the center of her house and see every room—the interior was just that open. Wright's homes inspired the smaller, more simple Ranch style and may be what we remember most about Wright's work. More »

Entrance to the Gregor Affleck House in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1941
Entrance to the Gregor Affleck House in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1941. Photo by Farrell Grehan/Corbis Documentary/Getty Images

Prairie Style Home Plans from homeplans.com is very inclusive. This group has pushed Wright's envelope to include the Craftsman Prairie, the Eye-Catching Prairie Two Story, the Prairie Style C-Shaped Home, the Lodge-Style Craftsman, a Contemporary Duplex with Terraces, and many more. That's a lot of prairies.

A website by Hanley-Wood, LLC, homeplans.com is not about "wood" as a construction material. It is an information media company begun by Michael J. Hanley and Michael M. Wood. Unlike Frank Lloyd Wright carefully designing homes for specific sites, the stock plans at homeplans.com provide every choice imaginable.

Which brings us to construction materials. The 1941 Gregor Affleck House shown here points out another consideration of Wright's architecture—the beauty is not only in the design, but also in the materials. You can hardly go wrong with natural wood, stone, brick, glass, and even concrete block—all materials used by Wright. "I have never been fond of paints or of wallpaper or anything which must be applied to other things as a surface," Wright has said. "Wood is wood, concrete is concrete, stone is stone." More »

The Bachman-Wilson House, Wright 1954 Design in New Jersey, Moved to Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas
The Bachman-Wilson House, Wright 1954 Design in New Jersey, Moved to Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas. Photo by Eddie Brady/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images (cropped)

Many of the Not So Big Home Plans for Sale by British-born architect Sarah Susanka, FAIA reflect Wrightian ideas. Take special note of the Prairie-inspired houses from Susanka's books, including the Not So Big House series. What many architects like Susanka do not have in common with Wright is their willingness to provide their plans for purchase as stock plans—Wright designs may have similar aspects, but they were custom designed for the client and the building site.

The Bachman-Wilson house shown here is one of Wright's Usonian homes designed in the 1950s for a New Jersey couple, Gloria Bachman and Abraham Wilson. These were Wright's "modest" and "affordable" homes. Today, they are collectors' items, preserved at any cost. For example, the Bachman-Wilson house was disassembled and reassembled at Chrystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas - Wright sited it a little too close to the flood-prone Millstone River in New Jersey.

Frank Lloyd Wright has seemingly influenced many of today's architects—the ones who appreciate natural beauty, are sensitive to the environment, and adapt plans to the needs of the client. These are Wright's values, expressed in his Usonian and Usonian Automatic homes, and in the designs by architects inspired by him. More »

Your Starting Point for Living in a Robie Knock-Off

How can you live in a Frank Lloyd Wright House? You probably can't afford the million dollar price tags of authentic Wright homes on the market. The next best thing to do is hire an architect who shares your vision, or ask your builder to use any of the plans on this list. The stock house plans sold by these companies capture the "look and feel" of a Prairie style without infringing on copyrighted design. Another huge advantage to buying in-stock is that the plan has usually been "vetted." The design is not unique, it's been built, and the plans have already been scrutinized for accuracy. These days, with home office software, building plans are much easier to modify than they used to be - buy stock plans and then customize. Starting with something is a lot cheaper than custom designs.