Take it from Frank Lloyd Wright

As a Madison Realtor and mid century modern enthusiast, I’m embarrassed to say that I hadn’t visited Frank Lloyd Wright’s Spring Green estate, Taliesin, prior to last weekend. Not only was the drive beautiful (we took the scenic route to take in the rolling hills and vibrant leaves), but the grounds and building were truly inspiring. We did the two-hour home tour, but shorter and longer tours of the various buildings are available. Although I love history and found the stories about Mr. Wright and his family fascinating, I was truly there for the architecture. I was not disappointed! While we weren’t allowed to take interior photos, I dug up a few online of the rooms and features that struck me.

Sitting area near fireplace at Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, Arizona

Bedroom at  Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin West, Arizona

Frank Lloyd Wright focused on bringing nature into his design, which translates into lots of large windows, natural wood and locally harvested field stone. I was surprised to see that, at least in this particular home, the wood trim, doors, wall panels and such were of low-grade plywood. I asked our tour guide why Wright didn’t use a “better” wood and her answer was simple. Being an artist, Wright’s home underwent many transformations; therefore, spending top dollar on a high quality hardwood wasn’t practical. Makes sense! I certainly feel a lot better trying things out in my home when I know I didn’t spend a lot on them in the first place.

I would say the biggest treats of the tour were the stone floors, vast fireplaces and wood ceiling beams. Being a Madison Realtor, I can tell you that many of the features we saw, such as the common stacked stone fireplaces, are usually considered dated by home buyers and sellers. I may have agreed in some cases prior to my visit to Taliesin, but seeing how Mr. Wright layered an array of textures, colors and shapes changed my perception. I couldn’t wait to find other examples of how these presumed “outdated” features could evolve into a room’s unique and attractive focal point.

A modern dining room where wood beams are a complimentary feature.

A modern living room where wood beams serve as a complimentary feature.

Dark, outdated features before makeover.

After - with some paint and creativity, dark features become interesting focal point in room.

As with much in life, it’s all about working with what you have and making that sweet lemonade out of those bitter lemons. Could one of your home’s unique lemons turn into an amazing, one-of-a-kind focal point with the right treatment? As homeowners beginning the listing process, consider how to play up your home’s original features. As buyers looking at outdated features as you search for home, be creative! Necessity is the mother of invention, after all.