Take a break from holiday shopping: Get inspired at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home & Studio Tour

One of the best ways to stay creative and inspired is to keep your creative pond, an idea I first heard from The Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron, well stocked with creative eye candy and experiences: art, design, poetry, music, theater, anything that makes you feel alive and in awe. It can be somewhere as vast as the Grand Canyon or your own town’s farmer’s market. It’s even better when the inspiration is free and is good for the whole family–especially during the often hectic and frenetic holidays.

Case in point: the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio tour. We surprised our kids with it this morning–woke them up, said let’s go, wouldn’t tell them where, stopped for doughnuts and headed out to Oak Park for the free Family Fun Days Featuring Victorian Christmas Tours.

For kids, by kids. Free tours of Wright’s Oak Park home, decorated for the holidays. Led by Junior Interpreters, specially trained 5th through 10th grade students, the tours focus on Wright family celebrations of the Christmas holidays. Enjoy hot chocolate and holiday music in the Home and Studio courtyard and play with Froebel blocks in Wright’s drafting room.

Fortunately my kids, ages 9 and 11, get as excited about architecture and history as my husband and I, so they were in awe of the unique home that looked nothing like any of the houses in our neighborhood. There was so much to take in: the old-fashioned toys, the huge Christmas tree in the children’s playroom (which also included a special staircase that led to a balcony for the Wright children to perform plays), the old ice box, and at the end of the tour, the Froebel blocks that were made available for anyone to play with, which we all did. The free hot chocolate was the icing on the cake of a cold, rainy winter day.

While there were adult guides throughout the house, kids ranging in age from 11 to 15 or so delivered the tour of each room–complete with historical details and tales of how the Wrights spent their holidays. They were professional and knowledgeable, and it was refreshing to see pre-teens and teens in this positive role–and I was happy that my children saw this as well. It wasn’t crowded, either, which made it easier to walk around the rooms and feast on the details without feeling pressure to move over or move on.

I told the kids to bring their wallets, and they found some cool, unique toys in the museum gift shop. (I talked my daughter out of the colored pencils, which we could buy anywhere, and she found a unique window glass art kit that she liked better.) Normally we wouldn’t buy stuff so close to Christmas, but it helps support the preservation trust, so it seemed like the right thing to do, especially since the tour was free.

We all left the house inspired by the architect’s vision, his unique design philosophy, the way natural light infused every room from the beautiful windows, building our own mini-creations with simple wooden blocks, the fascinating woodwork, attention to detail right down to the paint colors–Wright preferred natural earthy colors, according to our guides.

Standing there in Wright’s home, built in 1889, surrounded by moss-green walls, warm yet worn honey wood floors and light all around, it was impossible not to feel the beauty of his vision at every turn: a home filled with light and nature, form and function, beauty and tranquility.

It sure beat hanging out at the mall this time of year. Get creative. Stay creative. Even during the holidays.

To learn more about events sponsored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, visit their website.

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