On The Drawing Board: Prairie Style in Wilmington

A truly visionary couple in Wilmington, Delaware have been laboring for the past four years to convert their 1980's era four bedroom Colonial into something inspired by the Modernist works of Frank Lloyd Wright. Situated on a snug little cul-de-sac and rubbing shoulders with no fewer than three houses, the owners have transformed a ho-hum dwelling into something that has character, depth and meaning. Here is how the front looks now.

View from cul-de-sac
Front entry foyer & terrace

The landscape is being addressed in two phases, with the front being installed now and the back yard happening later this fall. As is typical of the style, the landscape must be an integral part of the house design where the building seems to be growing from its natural surroundings. The house in this case achieves this through broad, horizontal lines, graduated spaces and earthy tones. In order to support the work of the architect, Maffei Landscape Design designed plantings for the front that are massed and sweeping, suggesting natural lines while acknowledging the contemporary style with recognizable geometric forms.

Front yard plan

The side of the house opposite the garage is dedicated to a drainage swale that evacuates water from the back yard, but then only deposits it in the front yard where it slowly seeps into the soil. A rain garden of sorts was created here using plants that are tolerant of wet conditions, with a stepping stone path of 8" thick granite carved into long rectangles that set upon the ground to allow water and sediment to pass by without washing over their tops. The spaces in between are planted with more wet-tolerant perennials such as Siberian Bugloss and Hayscented Fern.

Early sketch for stepping stone slabs

Raw material for stepping stone slabs

Detail of stepping stone slabs