A “little gem” of a home for a disabled person.
Alistair McLean
Category: Heritage, Real Estate

Alistair: Posted on Thursday, 15 December 2011 11:31 PM


Secret Design Studio discovered a beautiful little home for sale that was designed and built in the early 1950’s for a paraplegic client and his wife, that would surely have to be one of the most beautiful and sensitive homes designed for a man with a disability.


Ken Laurent commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright, one of Secret Design Studio’s favourite American architects to design his home, where he has lived ever since, with only one minor addition and maintenance since it was built.  According to “property Observer”, at http://www.propertyobserver.com.au, Kenneth Laurent (pictured above), the original client, has placed the property up for auction for December 15th.  Obviously the original design and construction has stood the test of time, and has served Mr Laurent well over the past sixty years.




From Property Observer: “The Illinois Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Kenneth Laurent House and furnishings have been consigned to auction by the original owner, Kenneth Laurent. It’s been scheduled for December 15 auction through Chicago-based auction company Wright.

In 1948 Laurent commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to build a home in Rockford, Illinois that integrated his needs as a wheelchair-bound disabled veteran with Wright’s signature open-plan designs. Wright used to opportunity to develop his elliptical plan for the first time, and the resulting soft curves, open floor plan and flowing space were utilised in later houses in the 1950s.




The Laurents became friendly with Wright and travelled often to Taliesin, commissioning interior furnishing for the home and a later addition to the property. In conversation with Edgar Kaufmann Jr., Lloyd Wright referred to the Laurent House as a serene masterpiece and his “little gem”.“We are interested in the preservation mid-century architectural masterpieces,” states auctioneer Richard Wright, president of Wright. “We have an audience that appreciates the historical and aesthetic value of these special homes and is not strictly bound by the values of the local real estate market.”

The home and original Frank Lloyd Wright-designed furnishings will be estimated at US$500,000 to US$700,000.Wright is an international auction house based in Chicago that has offered historically important architectural masterpieces in their art and design auctions before, most famously with the sale of Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #21 in Los Angeles that sold in December 2006 for $3,185,600.




The 4646 Spring Brook Road house sits on 1.3 acres. Its interiors are 232 square metres in the single-story structure with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, and it features numerous built-in desks and cabinets.The furniture includes Frank Lloyd Wright furnishings: one pair of barrel lounge chairs, one pair of panel armchairs, six occasional tables, six hassocks, one entrance table, one hall table and two wrought-iron fireplace grates. Taliesin designed furnishings include: one dining table, six dining chairs, two Taliesin slatted wall lights, three decorative screens and external lighting elements.”






Apart from its architectural heritage and the importance of having had one of the world’s best known architects design the home, there are many things Secret Design Studio has found to love about this home:

  • It is modest from the street, almost invisible, while nestled and integrated into the beautiful landscape. It is the opposite of the “look-at-me” McMansion philosophy with it’s understated elegance.
  • The client/owner has loved and appreciated the home so it is only going on the market for the first time in its 60 years, during which it was cherished and lovingly maintained.
  • While designed for a paraplegic, with its low level storage areas, open plan and easy flow, there is nothing to say that a person in a wheelchair lives here – it looks and feels like a beautiful home, rather than a variation on a medical suite.




  • It is modest in scale, but the beautiful design and detailing give it a level of comfort and cosiness that grander homes, with grander spaces often lack. This thinking has been re-introduced with Sarah Susanka’s “Not so big house” philosophy. http://www.notsobighouse.com/
  • The floorplan of the house has been integrated into an abstract folding screen that is part of the furniture (refer first pic).
  • It offers privacy from the street, but wonderful vistas over the beautiful landscaping.
  • It may not be fashionable, but the design is timeless.




Secret Design Studio still believes that there is much to learn from the lessons in Frank Lloyd Wright’s Laurent House that is relevant to the way we live today. We hope that the new buyer loves, cherishes and appreciates the home as much as the previous owner.  For more information on the auction and more pictures go to http://www.wright20.com/auctions/view/MKSD/MKSF/378/