There are a number of factors that a prairie style home has going for it over other genres in it’s bid to be the perfect residential home design style. Let’s consider some architectural principles that support the notion. First, being that the style pre-dates architecture that can be considered truly modern, the style has a historical, more permanent feel. Since the style actually marked the advancement of 20th century modernism, it is easily adaptable to modern living. Large expanses of glass and open living spaces can be easily incorporated.
Low, wide roof shapes in a prairie style home provide a real sense of shelter and protection from the sun and the rain, the fundamental principle behind every home design. A 1st year building envelopes class at architectural school will teach that large overhangs will help keep water off exterior walls and footings. One of the oldest wood homes in the world is a 900 year old log home in Norway that owes much of it’s longevity to it’s large overhangs.
Prairie style overhangs also help to accentuate the horizontal impression of the home. Life is horizontal. We do our best to drive and walk on level planes. Floors and furniture are level, as is the backdrop behind every home, the horizon. Even in areas where the landscape is sloped steeply, humans make every effort to modify their environment to form horizontal planes. Take for instance tiered rice patties or a Tibetan monastery. I believe that the average human identifies with the horizontal lines of prairie style architecture in residential design because of this natural habit of horizontal living.
Some may be mistaken to think that since the prairie style originated from the prairies (specifically the American mid-west) this design style belongs primarily on the prairies. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the natural layered and stepped lines of a prairie style home lends well to stepping with moderately sloped environments. Extended planters also connect a home to the ground, anchoring it and creating opportunities for greenery.
One more feature that makes a prairie style home hard to beat as the best all-around home style is that prairie style homes are best presented with basic materials; wood, stone, stucco and glass. Is this not the core aim of a comfortable home, to feel sheltered and concurrently natural? Of course, every site, every home and every client is unique, but try as you may, you might never find a design style more suitable (and adaptable) to residential home design.