What is Craftsman Style?

The Craftsman style is a uniquely American architectural and design movement that arose in the early 20th century. It was inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement of England, which emphasized simple, handmade objects made from natural materials.

The American version of this movement was influenced by: 

  • Ideas about the efficient use of space
  • The need for affordable housing
  • Social reform ideals of the Progressive Era

Craftsman-style homes typically feature a low-pitched roof, large front porches, and natural materials such as wood, brick, stucco, stone, and fieldstone.

Building Blocks of Craftsman Style

While there is a range of expression, particularly depending on what part of the country you’re in, Craftsman homes are characterized by:<s

  • Regionalism – Craftsmen were inspired by their surroundings and used wood, stone, or other materials common to the area. For instance, Craftsman homes in California were designed to take advantage of the climate, and often made from redwood which is plentiful in that state.
  • Simplicity – Simplicity is a key element of Craftsman Style. The style was born in the early 1900s and emerged as a reaction to the heavy ornamentation and opulence of Victorian styles. Simplicity is often seen in Craftsman homes with exposed rafters, clean lines, and natural texture in interior design spaces. 
  • Natural materials – The use of natural materials is a key element of the Craftsman style. Materials such as wood, brick, and stone are often utilized to give the home a rustic feel that is reminiscent of simpler times.
  • Straight lines – The use of straight lines is often employed to create the illusion of space and balance, as well as to give the house a sense of permanence. 

Exterior Features of Craftsman Style

You can discover Craftsman homes at a glance by observing:3

  • House colorThe craftsman color palette used in this style is often neutral with earth tones, such as browns, beige, and gray, highlighting natural materials. You will also see a range of painted colors, especially white, black, green, yellow, and blue.
  • Roofs – Low-pitched roofs with wide eaves and exposed rafters are common to Craftsman homes, often with an asymmetrical design style
  • Outdoor spaces – Outdoor spaces allow for natural light and fresh air to enter into living spaces. The Craftsman style was all about designing space in a way that was practical and functional, including the utilization of outdoor spaces.
  • Porch – Entrance porches are a common feature in Craftsman-style homes. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes but often feature a simple, unadorned design. The porch is a connection to nature and an extension of the living space.

Interior Features of Craftsman Style

An ideal Craftsman home blends the same design principles throughout the exterior and interior. Craftsman design reflected inside the home may include: 

  • Furniture – Craftsman-style furniture is characterized by clean lines, natural wood, and simple shapes, with a lack of frivolous ornamentation.
  • Windows and lighting – Craftsman-style windows are typically rectangular with a lower sash that is narrower than the upper sash. They may be asymmetrical or appear as full-wall window panels. With an emphasis on nature and functionality, a Craftsman home will take advantage of natural light and employ a clean, functional light fixture
  • Exposed elements – A Craftsman style house will often showcase exposed wood beams and exposed brick or stone walls, showing off the functionality as part of form, and highlighting natural materials. 
  • Wood – You will often find built-in wooden shelving and storage, exposed wood flooring, and natural wood finishes to trim and doors throughout Craftsman homes.

What is the Philosophy Behind Craftsman Style?

What is Craftsman style beyond the nuts and bolts? Craftsman style grew out of the migration of the British Arts and Crafts movement to the United States.

The Arts and Crafts movement was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, which had led to an increasing division of labor in society and a life lived further away from nature. The movement was also a reaction against the idea that art should be seen as a commodity. 

Philosophical components of the Arts and Crafts movement that are expressed in Craftsman style include: 

  • Valuing one-of-a-kind, handmade objects – Creating and prizing handcrafted goods by skilled artisans over mass-produced goods, as the ultimate statement of respecting quality over quantity. 
  • Connection to nature – People resisting industrialization and modernization wanted to return to a more natural way of life emphasizing simplicity and self-sufficiency. This is expressed with the use of natural materials such as wood and stone, the use of natural light, and the integration of outdoor spaces into home life.
  • Simplicity over excess – Rejecting ornate styles such as Victorian houses was both aesthetic and a move toward making good design more accessible to a wider range of people.

History of Craftsman Style in the United States 

The Craftsman style was first seen in the United States with the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Illinois. The exposition showed many examples of the Craftsman style, which was a huge contrast to the European styles that were popular at the time.

The adoption of the Arts and Crafts Movement in America was spearheaded by Gustav Stickley, who in 1902 started his own furniture company. His designs were based on the English Arts and Crafts Movement, with a focus on hand-craftsmanship. In 1898, Stickley designed a house for himself in New Jersey. He coined the term “Craftsman” for his magazine “The Craftsman.”

Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene of Green and Green Architects are credited with popularizing the modern Craftsman style home throughout California. 

How Has Craftsman Style Changed?

The Craftsman style is one of the most popular styles in the United States. It’s characterized by simplicity, functionality, and natural materials. The term is often used to refer to a style that has elements and features and design and construction techniques that were most prevalent between 1890 and 1930.

But Craftsman can have a broader meaning today. It includes a range of blended styles and homes that incorporate some Craftsman design elements.

Also, while the Craftsman style was rooted in anti-industrialization, modern Craftsman home interpretations embrace new technology and materials.

Ready to Add Craftsman Style to Your Home?

Craftsman style is still popular today. It can be seen in many of the homes built in the last two decades, especially in California and the Northeast. And the values and features that make it special are more important than ever: using regional materials, focusing on quality craftsmanship over cheap manufactured goods, and inviting nature into your home life. 

If you’re looking at a new build or enhancing the home you love, our stone pools, hearths and fireplaces, and architectural elements can provide classic Craftsman detailing inside and outside your home. We’ll discuss the best stone for fireplace designs along with an arts and crafts fireplace

Visit one of our eight showrooms near you or speak with our design team to get started.

Sources: 

  1. Craftsman Perspective. English Origins: 1830-1860. https://www.craftsmanperspective.com/history/origins.html
  2. Love to Know Home & Garden. Understanding Craftsman Style Homes: Designs and Features. https://interiordesign.lovetoknow.com/Craftsman_Style_Homes
  3. House Beautiful. There’s A Reason Original Craftsman Style Homes Are Still Around After 100 Years. https://www.housebeautiful.com/design-inspiration/a25227127/craftsman-style-houses/