CHALLENGE: In all my years as a window treatment specialist, I have never experienced so much interest in historical periods, and especially recreations from the 19th and 20th centuries, as I do now.
I have one client who is fascinated with the style bestowed upon us by one of my favorite architects, Frank Lloyd Wright. This poses a particular challenge to me as a designer because Wright’s style was seemingly very simple; that is, window treatments were not detailed or adorned with much ornamentation.
This client chooses to recreate the Wright style for his new custom home located in Arizona. The home literally is built into the earth. The windows are architecturally simple, yet elegant. The use of horizontal elements throughout the design plays a very important part in the home’s overall appeal and certainly in its first impression.
This home closely resembles the Robert G. Walton House located in Modesto, CA, and was built in 1957. The front of the home is adorned by dozens of rectangular windows set in pairs, at least 40 sets of windows in a row. You can imagine how the wrong window treatment would look!
Could you please offer suggestions in dealing with this particular client and this style?
SOLUTION: While working on this project you are sure to learn why Frank Lloyd Wright was so respected by his colleagues and fans of his architecture. I am always impressed with the insight Wright possessed at such an early place in time. He was a true master and genius of architecture.
Wright applied many commercial techniques to residential structures, which therefore resulted in a streamlined look to his buildings whether he was working on a commercial or residential project. Wright often thought of his designs as organic, blending into the natural surroundings that he and his clients had chosen. He believed in the importance of surrounding yourself with nature, and often this idea assisted in the creation of the special designs he became famous for.
One of Wright’s earliest designs was the James Charnley House in Chicago, IL, built in 1891. At the time, Wright was employed by Adler and Sullivan, an architectural firm that specialized in large commercial buildings and theaters. Now that home is the headquarters of the Society of Architectural Historians.
One of my favorite Wright-designed homes is Fallingwater (the Edgar Kaufmann House) built in 1936. This home was so far ahead of its time. The structure is such a fine example of his organic design concept. The home is nestled among trees and water and shows Wright’s true design talents.
At the Frank Lloyd Wright® Foundation Web site (www.franklloydwright.com), you will be able to view all the magnificent buildings he became famous for.
Addressing the issue of window treatments for your client, I would definitely keep my treatment ideas simple especially if the home is closely related in style to the Robert G. Walton House as you mention. In the Walton House, the front of the home is saturated with windows and the roofline is straight and low. A simple, yet elegant window treatment suggestion would be wood blinds, soft shades or even a bamboo shade if it would complement the interior furnishings your client has chosen.
If your client’s interior style closely follows the straight lines of the furniture Wright created for his homes, such as the slant back chair or the stool (tabouret), then a simple, yet elegant look in window treatments will not take away from the authenticity of the designs for which he was famous.
Woods such as rich oak were used throughout Wright’s homes, which also incorporated natural stone flooring, hearths and highlights throughout. You might want to keep this is mind as you prepare additional suggestions for your client in recreating the true elegance of Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs.
Editor's Note: This is a continuing series of articles written by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many questions we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well as questions Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question you would like Anderson to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave.
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
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Sharon L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential and commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty member at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured in numerous books and publications.