Guest Post By: Senior Designer Julie Hartman

There are many things to look forward to in the springtime.  Flowers are blooming, the weather is getting warmer, school is almost out, and if you are like my interior design friends and I, you look forward to the Wright Plus walk in Oak Park, IL.

For 6 years now my friends, Carey, Janet and I have been doing this walk every May and it truly is a one of a kind experience.  Every year in Oak Park, the Frank Lloyd Wright Trust puts together different homes on this walking tour. Included in the tour are 8 private residences which are usually designed by Frank Lloyd Wright or other prominent architects from his time.  

This year’s tour included several homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright from the early 1900’s.  The first home was the William G. Fricke house built in 1901. This prairie style home features creamy stucco, overhanging eaves and raised wood banding around the exterior.  The interior of the home is created all around a central entrance hall where you can see into every first-floor room. The distinctive prow shape on the exterior of the building is carried thru to the interior by using a variety of balustrades and dividing screens mimicking the same shape.  The kitchen in this home was remodeled in 2014 where they used an original stained-glass window for a ceiling feature above the kitchen island. It is back lit by neon lighting to enhance the stained-glass colors.

Another Frank Lloyd Wright home that we toured this year was the William E. Martin house built in 1903.  This home is also designed in the Prairie Style with a stucco and wood banding exterior. The exterior also includes a beautiful walled garden, arbor and water garden which all play into the ideal of organic architecture which FLW so loved working into his homes.  Inside the home you see many typical FLW themes, including changes in ceiling height when you enter a room, roman brick fireplaces, stained glass, inglenooks and built in cabinetry.

Some other notable homes on the tour was the Ashley B. Smith home designed in a French Eclectic style with a limestone wrap around the exterior, prominent chimney and ornate doorway.  This home had a beautiful attached sun porch and matching stone garage with green house.

The George L. Smith home was designed by John S. Van Bergen in 1914.  This home was very similar to the Prairie style in that it has many art glass windows and doors.  What was interesting about this home is the T-shaped motif that was the theme carried thru out the interior.  You can see it in the windows, doors and even in the living room’s built in bookcases creating this shape.

The Barrett C. Andrews home was designed by Tallmadge & Watson in 1906 and is a great mix of the prairie style and arts and crafts style.  The lighting sconces in this home are original and beautiful. They feature oak leaves, roots and acorns which are a popular arts and crafts form.

The last home worth noting was the George D. Webb home designed by Henry K. Holsman in 1910.  This home is very symmetrical with a large hipped roof. The interior of the home is designed in the arts and crafts style and included 6 original light fixtures and five fireplaces.  Also keeping with the arts and crafts style was the unique wallcoverings in every room and the bird backsplash tiles in the 2010 remodeled kitchen.

For my interior design friends and I this day is always inspiring to see all these beautiful homes in such a historic neighborhood.  I am always reminded of how designs come back around in different ways whether it is organic by bringing nature in or by carrying the simplest theme through-out the space.  

We are so lucky to live near all this great design and architecture!

-Julie Hartman

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