How Can I Live in a Frank Lloyd Wright House?

Live Like Wright Wants You To Live

Natural wood siding and wooden porch in this Very Early Design by Frank Lloyd Wright
A Very Early Design by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo by Lonely Planet / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images (cropped)

Do those comfortable, Prairie style houses by Frank Lloyd Wright make your heart skip a beat? Have you always dreamed of owning a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece like Fallingwater? Okay, maybe not so much water. But how about a Wright Usonian home, like the Jacobs House in Wisconsin? Brick and wood and a wall of windows brings nature into your living space.

Well, start packing. You can live in a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright—or one that looks like it might have been.

Here's how.

1. Buy a Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright built hundreds of private homes, and every year a few change ownership. In 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that about 20 homes were on the market from the approximately 270 privately owned FLW residences. "Many of the homes by Mr. Wright pose challenges," reports the WSJ. Small kitchens, no basements, narrow doorways, built-in furniture, and leaks are just a few of the difficulties for the modern homeowner. When you buy a Wright, you're buying a piece of history important to many people—some might say to too many people. Wright fans will always be lurking around your house if you buy an original.

Many of Wright's homes are in the Wisconsin / Illinois area, and every year that's where most of the turnover is. Wright architecture outside of this area is more rare and may tend to be on the market for longer periods of time. To learn about Frank Lloyd Wright houses currently for sale, visit the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy and select the link Wright on the Market.

2. Build a Wright

Nothing by Wright in your city? Consider hiring an architect to custom design a new home in the spirit of the master. Without a doubt, the premier firm for Wright-inspired creations used to be Taliesin Associated Architect (TA). From Wright's death in 1959 until the group reorganized in 2003, TA continued the architectural practice established by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1893.

Today, the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture maintains two design studios, one at Taliesin West in Arizona and another at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. An architect who has trained or apprenticed at either Taliesin may better understand the spirit of Wright's architecture. The Taliesin Fellows stay connected but practice privately after graduation. The first thing you may want to do, though, is take a tour at either Taliesin.

You can't use Frank Lloyd Wright's blueprints, and architects don't need to train at Taliesin to design like Wright, but these former Taliesin Fellows present a delightful array of design possibilities:

3. Use Mail Order House Plans

Building on a budget? Consider purchasing construction-ready building plans for a Prairie style house. While not duplicates of Wright's work, many of these stock plans resemble the rambling homes that Frank Lloyd Wright designed—and they can be modified by an architect.

Remember that Wright first experimented with the Prairie design way back in 1893—before 1900 Wright had developed the modern design loved today, but variations were made in Wright's own lifetime.

The Prairie house style is just that—a style that inspired many adaptations . A number of companies offer plans for Wright-inspired houses, including the ones listed in Build a Frank Lloyd Wright Inspired Dream Home.

4. Add Wright Details

Even if your new home is not a Wright original, it can incorporate his most popular details. Evoke the spirit of the master through furniture, glassware, fabrics, lighting, and wallpapers. To find Frank Lloyd Wright reproduction housewares, explore our continuing list of Frank Lloyd Wright Shopping Resources.

Learn More:

  • "Seeking the Wright Path at Taliesin West" by Logan Ward, Architect Magazine, December 9, 2014
  • For examples of modern-day architecture inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, see A Living Architecture: Frank Lloyd Wright and Taliesin Architects by John Rattenbury
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  • John H. Howe, Architect: From Taliesin Apprentice to Master of Organic Design by Jane King Hession, University Of Minnesota Press, 2015
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Sources: "The Pleasures and Pitfalls of Frank Lloyd Wright Homes" by Joann S. Lublin, The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2013 at http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323372504578469410621274292; "Taliesin ARchitects Reorganized" by Jim Goulka, Taliesin Fellows Newsletter, Number 12, July 15, 2003 at http://re4a.com/wp-content/uploads/taliesinfellows_Jul03.pdf [accessed November 21, 2013]