Home on the… Prairie? American Architecture at its Finest.

In one of my first posts I talked about the origins of Craftsman architecture and given that Craftsman homes are currently going through a resurgence in popularity, I thought I would discuss a specific offshoot of the style: Prairie architecture.

prairie-1248I often times refer to my home as a Craftsman, simply because its the most approachable term to use, but I’d like to illustrate for you what artful history my home owes its origins to. This home, built in 1910, and designed by Clyde J. Powers is technically a Prairie style home, which has a lot in common with Craftsman architecture. Both use their environment as their core inspiration, but Prairie style sources that inspiration specifically from the vast horizontal expanses of America’s mid-western fields, endless roads and highways and never-ending telephone wires. The key element is thus horizontality and line. Prairie style is a purely American style of architecture, highlighting the minimal and essential attributes its creators thought homes should be celebrated for. I too share this design philosophy, and enjoy being apart of this home’s history.



Preserving Your Historic Windows

IMG_1827We see ourselves as extremely fortunate to own a home over 100 years old that contains nearly all of its original windows, some of which are intricate stained glass. They have, however, turned into one of the major projects on our restoration list. Little to no maintenance has been done on them over the years resulting in faulty pulley systems, cracks, scratches and broken hinges.

If you have  double hung windows with pulley rope you’re looking at anywhere from $100 to $200 per window in order to fix it. Guess what.. we have 40 windows in all!  The alternative would be to replace all of the windows with new windows, which would cost about the same, but I’m too attached to the beauty of the originals and there are some major advantages to keeping older windows. If you are making a similar decision, here are some great arguments for maintaining  rather than replacing:

1. The design of your windows should fit your home: An architect or designer took great care when your home was built to choose the right windows for your home. Don’t take a chance on throwing off its proportions with new windows. 2. Craftsmanship: The construction of old windows (often done by hand) is extremely durable, and as it ages it is easy to repair.

3. Materials: Old windows were generally made from old growth woods which are no longer available. Newer wood windows are made from fast growing and harvested woods that are more susceptible to invasions and rot.

4. Glass: Historic hand blown glass has a wavy texture that is very expensive to duplicate. The old leaded glass is strong and very clear.

5. Windows should last a long time: The warranty on most new windows is 20 to 30 years, and then they must be replaced. Historic windows can last at least 50 years between repairs.

6. PVC is bad for you: New windows are sometimes made of vinyl, which is PVC based, and other windows, such as aluminum or even wood have PVC parts. PVC is an environmental hazard as its produced, and as a product that off gasses in your home. It releases deadly toxins if it catches fire.

7. Sunlight!: New windows have to be fit into the existing frame, and the newer frames are often thicker, so you can lose up to 10% of the glass area, losing sunlight and views.

8. Old fashioned technology: Historic windows use solid brass hardware which operates smoothly and is averse to rusting. Historic single and double hung windows use pulleys and counter weights, which are far superior to friction alone.

9. The environment: By keeping your historic windows you can keep them out of landfills, and by not buying new ones you’re cutting down on manufacturing, wasted materials, and shipping costs.

10. Your fellow man: By restoring old windows you might be taking away low paying manufacturing jobs, but instead you are employing higher paid craftspeople who specialize in a field.

Eight Ways to Make a Kitchen Stand Out


1. Use open shelving in place of upper cabinets

This is a great option for smaller spaces, especially if you have china or fiesta ware you would like an excuse to show off! The exclusion of cabinets creates the illusion of more space while decreasing dark spaces and shadows that can make small rooms feel even smaller. I designed around a narrow kitchen for one of my clients using cabinets with clear doors, which works well too!



2. Use at least two wood finishes.

This is the simplest way to add texture to your kitchen and maintain a classic yet warm and rustic feel. This is especially true when combining these textures in the context of a clean and contemporary room.





3. Make it a galley kitchen.

Take this opportunity to think outside the box! Or in this instance outside the confines of your square footage. Use the walls to craft an exquisite way to store your treasured wine selection or install hooks to show off copper pans and cookery.





4. Leave out the hardware.

If your not in to exposing your treasured kitchen paraphernalia with open plans, try taking it to the next extreme! Remove handles and other hardware for the ultimate chic and minimal look.





5. Build in an eating area.

Everyone knows that the kitchen is the place to hang out! If your living by yourself or with a small family, consider nixing the concept of a dinning room and go for cozy in the kitchen!






6. Use furniture in place of an island.

If you’re living in a small space, or if it feels that way what with all the people constantly coming in and out of your home, make sure you are using your surface space wisely! Instead of an island, shake things up with a functional piece of furniture that can double as a space to eat off of with storage to boot!




7. Use concrete counter tops.

Utilitarian, minimal, warehouse-like loft spaces are in! Don’t live in a space that resembles a loft in anyway? Incorporate concrete countertops as a simple solution to acquire that hip urban vibe.





8. In corporate a skylight!

And of course, if its architecturally feasable, utilize as much natural light as you can. Put a spotlight on your hard work with a skylight.





Be sure to get in touch with me and share your kitchen make over concepts!



Antique cabinets, modern appliances:








Parisian apartment of Gilles and Boissie:








kitchen love the contrast of the wood against the black, and what a great wine rack:









Modern | ombiaiinterijeri:

















desire to inspire:








| P | Kitchen with concret counters + backsplash:








Love the off form concrete and the retractable skylight over the kitchen island. Cemetaries scare me, but this house which is situated on one, makes it look beautiful. Elliott House – North London, by Eldridge-Smerin Architects.:












Our New Home! A Story of Restoration & Historical Intrigue

Jeremy's craftsmanHere it is! My husband and I own our first home together. Built in 1910 and technically prairie style (but not unlike the many craftsman houses in the area) it was designed by engineer J. Clyde Power serving as his family’s main residence for 25 years. With 4,000 square feet of well-crafted, grandiose, turn of the last century architecture it is in remarkably good condition for it’s age and Dennis and I are excited to restore it to its original glory. Its going to be quit the adventure getting it there, the kitchen and bathrooms consist of what those of us in preservation generally refer to as “inappropriate alterations” and the exterior is a whole another story…. We know that the roof was changed from metal tiles to asphalt shingles, a garland trim was removed from all but one small area in the back, and stucco was slathered over almost everything, but other additions and details remain a mystery.

We are looking forward to digging up more information about the history of the house and taking on as many restorative projects as possible. I’m Jeremy Irvine, an interior designer currently taking on my own home in addition to my client’s homes. Follow my blog for updates on my home’s historical past and the various restorative projects we embark on.