Prairie style decorating originated with Frank Lloyd Wright and his minimalist architecture. The prairie style emphasized built-in shelving, cupboards, and closets housed in single-story buildings that followed the long, low horizon of the prairie. Such homes usually focused around a central area that had a fireplace, then branched off into wings that housed bedrooms or utility rooms.
A Pinterest blogger described it as not frilly, not austere, but just right. The settlers of the westward movement could only bring with them such goods as could be packed on the back of a mule or be loaded into a Conestoga wagon. The real prairie homes were often built from sod or even from baled straw, or with wood that was hauled from nearby states that were more blessed with trees. The result was a spare architecture.
Interior decorating often centered around one or two treasured pieces that were brought “from back East,” and such furnishings as the occupants could devise from local materials. Wright’s architecture cashed in on this sparse furnishing that centered around a good piece or two. Consequently, prairie style is somewhat eclectic.
You might find a Grecian urn molded out of concrete placed on a handmade table featuring a distressed paint job – a look that is sometimes carried over into shabby chic. Prairie style, however, is less cluttered. It encourages using a special piece or two as a focal point without getting too fussy about how it looks. The original homes were more concerned with the work that needed to be done, or perhaps even with preserving the heirloom pieces that made it all the way to their new world.
Prairie Style Decorating, therefore, is going to take function into consideration. But functional does not preclude beautiful. Even such ordinary wood as pine or fir can be made beautiful with staining, artful distressing, or even the layered paint look so much loved in shabby chic decorating. The decorative items are arranged to enhance the clean lines of the low, horizon-hugging buildings. You could almost say that any sort of décor is part of prairie style – but perhaps not quite. It has a more open, gracious feel than shabby chic, not so fussy as Victorian, or as truly classical as Grecian. It has an open, inviting feel. The furnishings are not too different from country or cottage and can sometimes take on a Southwestern aspect. The key factor to have a few good pieces that are well presented.