Once upon a time, I knew someone who pretended he knew someone and got us a night’s stay at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Not just any night’s stay—because guests aren’t allowed to stay in Wright’s former home. (Or weren’t then, at least.)
Somehow, because Taliesin was closed for the season, my friend sweet-talked the caretaker into letting us hang out for the day while we toured through the house, school and grounds; sipped wine, nibbled cheese and talked architecture in front of a fireplace in the sleeping quarters; treated the caretaker to a dinner out on the town (such as it is); and then slept side by side in one of the bedrooms.
The next morning we went cross-country skiing on the grounds in the freshly fallen snow. A peak experience to be sure.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Kinney house, Lancaster, WI
For a long while, some of Wright’s homes have been open for overnight stays. The waits are long. Now, Minneapolis architects Scott Muellner and Connie Lindor (who once owned the designer haven redlurered in Uptown) have started a new business called PlansMatter, an agency through which architecture aficionados can rent the architect-designed homes of their dreams.
“Our goal is to make these places easily available for people to experience on their own,” write Muellner and Lindor on the PlansMatter website. “We created PlansMatter as a place for guests who value exceptional design to find and connect with hosts who have invested in extraordinary architecture.” And OMG (there’s no other way to say it), their listings are extraordinary and span the globe.
The Sliding House in Upper Kingsburg, NS, Canada (PlansMatter has several properties here) is comprised of simple wedge forms stacked on an agrarian hillside to appear as though they’re, yes, sliding down the slope. Designed by Mackay Lyons Sweetapple Architects, the house “is both of its place and radically modern—testing the limits of a critical regionalist position,” the website explains.
The Pole House in Fairhaven, VIC, Australia is laugh-out-loud fantastic; like something out of James Bond movie or a science-fiction miniseries. Designed by Frank Dixon, the house extends 40 meters out over the woods and beach, and rises from its site on a pedestal. Reached via a glass and steel walkway, the structure—
both lighthouse and watchtower—offers panoramic views of the coastline.
Closer to home are VJAA’s Gunflint Lake Cabin in Grand Marais; and Muellner and Lindor’s own apartment rendered in white and black in a 1906 duplex in Minneapolis; and Snow Krejilich Architects’ (Julie Snow is on PlansMatter’s board) Sawtooth Cabin in Schroeder. Properties in California, Arkansas, Michgan, Massachusetts, and Chicago, as well as in Great Britain, Scotland, and Wales also turn this bucket list of listings into a worldwide adventure.
The much-beloved Seth Peterson Cottage in Mirror Lake and Still Bend in Two Rivers, both in Wisconsin and both designed by Wright are on the roster. So is the Kinney House, which PlansMatter just added, in Lancaster, WI. An early iteration of what would become Wright’s Usonian style, the stone and wood house has a non-rectilinear layout of “diamond modules.” Sign up now to experience this gem.
By Camille LeFevre