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Craftsman Style Architecture History
Around the turn of the 20th century, architect and design enthusiasts began to move away from the machine-made, traditional designs that sprouted up during the Industrial Revolution toward a more natural, down-home aesthetic. This reaction was dubbed the Arts and Crafts movement and started in England before making its way over to the United States.
Arts and Crafts subscribers believed that a more functional aesthetic, featuring natural materials and a greater degree of craftsmanship, would result in a more comfortable lifestyle. The unpretentious houses that were constructed from this philosophical shift were aptly named Craftsman homes. Nearly all Craftsman-style homes are considered bungalows, with their distinctive large porches and equally simple and elegant pared-back design. Distinguished by thoughtful details and high-quality workmanship, Craftsman homes have a timeless, thoughtful quality that reinforces their popularity today.
Identifying Features of a Craftsman Home
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A defining characteristic of a Craftsman home is its low-pitched gabled roof with expansive eaves.
Big Front Porch
It’s tough to find a Craftsman bungalow without a porch, and most Craftsman porches are exceptionally spacious.
The tapered columns supporting the porch of Craftsman homes are among their most striking characteristics, infusing otherwise simple designs with a touch of grand elegance.
Glass Door Panes
Most traditional Craftsman homes feature glass window panes at the top of the front door.
To showcase the handiwork that goes into these homes, most Craftsman houses have exposed rafter tails and beams, adding to their homespun charm.
More often than not, Craftsman homes are constructed with a mix of materials, typically wooden clapboard mixed with stone foundations.
Adapted from Prairie-style architecture, many Craftsman homes have multi-pane windows, with a four- or six-over-one double-hung design.
Adding to the cozy and inviting feel of these homes, many Craftsman designs are complete with a large fireplace, often with built-in cabinetry around it.
Famous Craftsman Style Architects
Sibling designers, Charles and Henry Greene, are largely responsible for the design and rise of Craftsman homes in America. Their architectural firm, Greene and Greene, based in Pasadena, adapted existing California board-and-shingle buildings to create the Craftsman-style homes we know and love today. The most famous of their designs is the Gamble House, which most consider the origin of Craftsman homes, providing a quintessential example from which most other Craftsman houses were built.
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Other notable Craftsman architects include Julia Morgan, who was responsible for the Mills College projects, Bernard Maybeck, who constructed the Swedenborgian Church, and David Owen Dryden, who built a series of Craftsman bungalows in the North Park district in California.
Fun Facts About Craftsman Style Homes
- Craftsman homes’ emphasis on skilled handiwork and expensive materials meant that somewhat ironically, only the wealthiest could adopt them. The wealthy Craftsman homeowners were sometimes called “champagne socialists.
- The Arts and Crafts movement in England and the United States had philosophical tenets in common; however, the U.S. differed in that it consciously endeavored to make Craftsman homes available to middle-class families rather than only the wealthy.
- Craftsman homes are largely responsible for what we know today as a breakfast nook. Before this style came into play, kitchens were typically for cooking and cooking only, but Craftsman-style homes emphasize a familial, communal design, introducing the idea that family gatherings can take place in the kitchen.