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Original dining room Sketch dining room Current dining room


Creating a Prairie Style Interior

Prairie Style Rugs and Textiles

Coming soon these topics:

Decorating Introduction | Colors | Furniture (Draft 2) | Rugs/Textiles (Draft 1) | Lighting | Windows | Accessories | Resource & Budgets | Books to help

My, what beautiful wood floors. Now cover them up...
In our previous page we talked about “organic architecture”. Organic meaning that the structure, furnishings, accessories were all to be designed for the site. For the clients that could afford it and were also willing to give all interior design reign over to the architect or designer, many Prairie style homes had custom area rugs, furniture, lighting and textiles designed for the specific home.

To better illustrate how Prairie style rugs complete your room, take a look at the two pictures below. The picture on the left is of a famous original Prairie home bedroom with a typical middle eastern designed rug. The picture on the right shows one of our Prairie styled rugs superimposed. Homeowners and interior designers have all agreed on how the right style rug completes the Prairie look.

New look with beautiful Prairie School Style Rug

Watch the television segment about our exclusive custom Prairie and Craftsman style rugs. (WMV format)

You may be familiar with the furniture designs, but several original Prairie homeowners had rugs and textiles designed also. The patterns and motifs were usually echoing a design used elsewhere in the home. Art glass designs were often adapted and used in the area rugs to tie in the design theme. The designs in the rug were geometric abstracts and many had lines and small details that were intricate. The interconnecting lines would move the eye across the rug and lead it to where the architect/designer wanted you to view.

With floors for most homes being wood, and wall-to-wall carpeting not yet feasible in the early 1900's, area rugs were the floor covering of choice. For the custom designed rugs to match a motif in the home, the rugs were often hand-knotted construction of wool and sometimes silk. The rugs were woven in Austria, Turkey, Persia, and China.

The designs were coordinated with the wall colors and wood tones and followed a similar autumnal color palette to the walls. The rug layout was often included in a floor plan. With the vast expanse of open floor space and wide pass-throughs to other rooms, the Prairie style rugs had design motifs that were often placed to draw the eye to a specific feature.

Architect designed rugs for most Prairie houses did NOT have fringe. It kept the look streamlined and clean. Not to mention it sure is nice today to vaccuum a rug and not have the fringe get tangled up in the beater bar!

Tips for designing custom rugs and placement in the room
For very large rooms there might be a small geometric repeating pattern to bring interest to a room floor. The pattern was spaced fairly far apart to keep it subdued and not make the rug the focal point, but enhance and support the other elements of the room.

Meyer May house rugs laid adjoining each other.  Photo used with permission of Craig Mosher 2004
Photo by Craig Mosher 2004 used with permission

For smaller rugs, the design would sometimes encompass the entire rug. If there was no furniture to be placed on the rug, then it would tie a sitting group together. Often many rugs of varying sizes would be laid end-to-end and along side each other almost in a wall-to-wall configuration. This was used to separate different areas of a large room.

Often times, flatweave rugs were used in bedrooms and simple border rugs with no other design were used to reinforce a clean linear feel to the home without drawing attention to the rugs as artwork. The color schemes initially reflected the ground colors in nature. Browns, tans, earthen greens, reds and rusts. Other colors like blues and brighter pinks, oranges, greens, plums, and reds were used to give a pop of color as accents.

The most asked question about choosing a rug size is...
What size rug do I need for under my dining room table? There are some variations on this, but the rule of thumb I use is the rug should be 2 feet beyond each side of the table top. So if your table - with all leafs in place - is 36" x 72" (3' x 6') then the rug should be a minimum of 7' x 10'. That would give you 2 extra feet on each side of the table. Scale of the room is important. You might not have enough room or the room may be much larger. The pictures of the original prairie style home at the top of the page shows a rug we created for a client in California. The room was much larger and the client decided to add 3 feet to each side of the table so the overall scale of the room would be in balance. If you have a solid wood table, keep the design elements to the border if ordering custom. Custom Prairie Style rug for dining room.  Note the center is blank and the design elements are at the end of the rug where they can be seen.  The solid wood table will block any view of the center of the rug.

Pay attention to that Mann behind the curtain... he probably designed it
George Mann Niedecken was an interior architect that worked with several of the Prairie School architects. His furniture, rug, textile, and murals are often attributed to the most famous architect of the Prairie School. He worked with that architect on twelve of his home commissions.

Niedecken would design furnishings and had a shop that would construct the furniture. He painted many of the murals himself and designed countless rugs, textiles and lights. When Marion Mahony Griffin worked for the famous architect and he left the country, Marion was left to finish up many of the details for homes commissioned.

One home in Decatur, IL had the interior furnishings designed and Marion Mahony Griffin brought in Niedecken to help with the furnishings. Those furnishings remained in the home until the 1970's (I believe). The rug scheme consisted of several large rugs and runners custom designed for the living room. The rugs were placed adjacent to each other and the furniture placement created several different areas for the large space. The room included a Prairie style piano, and a built in Prairie style grandfather clock. The room has a wall of art glass windows facing the front yard and the room is filled with natural light. Although the rugs and freestanding furniture are gone, the current owners have used mission furniture and non-Prairie area rugs to great affect to give the room a warm and inviting updated feeling.

George Elmslie original Prairie rug design Marion Mahony Griffin and architect George Grant Elmslie also were prolific furnishing designers. Rugs and textiles were designed for their clients as well. Elmslie's work leaned more toward a Craftsman feel with his use of curves. Marion and her architect husband, Walter Burley Griffin created many interiors for their own clients. Alphonso Ianelli, more known for his sculptures used in Prairie homes, also designed rugs, fabrics and textiles. The department store, Marshall Field's (now Macy's) in Chicago, carried his work on a retail basis.

Back to the future. Finding and cost of Prairie style rugs today
Your choices for rugs today include many of the same choices available in the early 1900's. You can find a studio like ours that will design rugs for your home based on a design motif you are using. You choose the size colors, shape – perfect for your home. Rugs can be woven in wool or wool/silk combinations. Hand-tufted wool rugs and hand-knotted rugs are excellent choices for quality custom rugs. Expect to pay anywhere from $30 to $60 per square foot from our studio (discounts for multiple rugs ordered).

Wool Flatweave Prairie style rug.  Courtesy Aspen Carpet DesignsThe licensed designs, of a certain famous architect's foundation, can be had for $40 - $80 /square foot. Some of the licensed designs can be custom sized for $80 – $100+ per square foot. Also the major rug manufacturers also offer a few designs in machine made wool and synthetic fibers that can range from $15 - $80 a square foot. Flatweave rugs can be found in simple stripe and border designs for $3-$15 per square foot and in cotton, wool or chenille fibers.

Doing a search on “Prairie style rugs” or “Craftsman rugs” and choose the Image search will bring back many images of different manufacturers of rugs that would be appropriate for your home. As you can see there are many price points you can find to make your floors reflect a Prairie style interior.

Coming soon information on Textiles...

Decorating Introduction | Colors | Furniture (Draft 2) | Rugs/Textiles (Draft 1) | Lighting | Windows | Accessories | Resource & Budgets | Books to help


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