At the beginning of September, hubby and I set off for a weekend in Chicago. For our first trip, at the top of my list was a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Home and Studio, followed by a walking tour of the neighbourhood. I was NOT disappointed!
On the HOTTEST day of that weekend, we set off on Chicago’s “El” (elevated transit system) to Oak Park, a rather well off neighbourhood of large, beautiful homes, several of which were designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Built over the span of 9 years from 1889 to 1898, this is the home in which Frank and his first wife Catherine raised their six children. The home also provided a opportunity for Frank to experiment with various architecture and design approaches. This home is a testament to his forethought as well, as it was pre-wired for electricity well before the City of Chicago flipped the switch.
With a love of art glass, Frank designed several installations within his home. I fell in love with them ALL!
A known Frank Lloyd Wright design philosophy was creating rooms within rooms. You can see how he’s done that in the dining room below using the furniture he designed. While sitting at the table, with all chairs pulled in the high backs provide an enclosure that feels as if you are in a room.
You’ve probably noticed the light fixture above the table as well. It was designed to be the same size as the table and lined with rice paper to diffuse the light but still allow the pattern to be visible. (During restoration of the home, the rice paper was replaced with fibreglass to meet building code restrictions). Another uncommon fixture in homes of that time was a tile floor replacing the standard hardwood of the time.
Clearly evident throughout the home is Frank’s love of quarter-sawn oak, seen in both interior trim and finishes as well as in the furniture he designed. You’ll notice the two chairs at the far end of the table are much darker than the others. Those chairs were not treated with any finishes or solvents and show the true patina of aged oak. I’m partial to that look myself as it gives a true sense of the age of the piece.
As you ascend the staircase to the second level, there is a large dormitory, which was later split into 2 rooms with a partial wall. No attics meant ceiling height was considerable, allowing airflow for heating and cooling. A separate playroom, where studies, music, entertaining and business meetings were held (until the studio was built), is a light filled room that boasts several of Frank’s lighting designs and commissioned art installations.
An immense amount of work has and is being done by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust. Apart from running the tours of the home and studio, they have had a massive hand in restoring the buildings after they had been split into several rental units prior to their acquisition. I had no qualms whatsoever paying my share to walk through this historic home and I would encourage ANYONE visiting Chicago do do this tour!
You can read more about my visit with Frank Lloyd Wright on my personl blog.
Lisa says: “Wow love this post Donna. So much interesting information. I definitely will be visiting whenever I get to Chicago. Thanks for sharing!”
Mary Anne says:“What a beautiful home that Frank designed and built. I ran out of time to see it last time I was in Chicago, but won’t miss it next time! I especially love the stained glass.”
Nicole says: “Chicago is on my must visit list. And now this house will be too. I love the rectilinear design elements in the furniture and glass. Reminds me of another favourite designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.”