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Get the Look: Arts and Crafts-Style Architecture
Arts and Crafts architecture includes bungalows and homes in Craftsman, Prairie, and Spanish Mission styles.
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Arts and Crafts-Style Architecture
To understand American Arts and Crafts-style architecture, you need to begin with the British Arts and Crafts movement that emerged in the mid-1800s. Led by artist and writer William Morris, the movement was a rebellion against machine-made, mass-produced goods. It emphasized craftsmanship, creative expression, and the use of natural materials found locally. Arts and Crafts interiors, furniture, and decorative arts all displayed these qualities, so, of course, the ideal home’s architecture needed to do the same.
It should be noted, though, that while early British devotees of Arts and Crafts ideals eschewed mass production, many American architects embraced it — from metal screws to hold beams in place to machine-produced kit homes that were shipped via train.
By the 1890s the movement had spread to the rest of Europe as well as North America. One of the main voices behind the movement in the United States was a furniture-maker named Gustav Stickley. In 1901 he began publishing The Craftsman, a magazine that encouraged readers to build and furnish their own homes using Arts and Crafts principles. The publication promoted the furniture, metalwork, and linens produced in Stickley’s factories. It also provided free plans for Craftsman-style homes, which were typically one and a half to two stories high, constructed from locally supplied materials, and designed to blend harmoniously with their surroundings.
At first, the term “Craftsman home” referred only to those built from plans offered in Stickley’s magazine, which was published until 1916. Eventually, “Craftsman” became the term of choice for all early-20th-century houses with Arts and Crafts-influenced exteriors.
One with Nature
Abundant windows, wraparound porches, and pergolas did their part to link Craftsman-style homes to nature. So did the act of planting shrubbery, ornamental grasses, and other foliage to hide a home’s foundation—thereby linking it to the ground on which it was built.
Also known as the Box House, the Foursquare house began to appear around the turn of the 20th century. Most roofs were hipped (all sides sloping downward to meet the walls, with no gables), with a dormer on at least one face. Just as with roofs on other Arts and Crafts style homes, a Foursquare’s roof eaves extend over the walls and expose rafter ends and knee-style brackets.
Pictured: This stately brick Craftsman Foursquare was built in 1912 in Minneapolis. A recent renovation mixed contemporary materials with signature Craftsman components to return the home to its original style.
Arts & Crafts Bungalows
The term “bungalow” derives from "Bengali" and originated in 19th-century India, where the British built easily constructed one-story houses for travelers. These homes suited India’s hot, sunny climate with their low, close-to-the-ground construction and large porches beneath sheltering eaves.
In the United States, bungalows with low-pitched roofs first showed up in Southern California. These houses appealed to homebuyers because they were practical and economical, and because their simplicity and reliance on craftsmanship provided a refreshing change from the ornate Victorian-style houses that had become popular in the late 1800s.
Check out the next slide to see “the ultimate bungalow.”
Pictures: This home is in "Bungalow Heaven"—a neighborhood of historic, early-20th-century bungalows in Pasadena, California, that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Learn more at bungalowheaven.org.
The Ultimate Arts & Crafts Bungalow
Thanks to Pasadena architects Charles and Henry Greene, Southern California became a hotbed of Arts and Crafts design. Among the brothers’ architectural triumphs is the Gamble House (shown), an Arts and Crafts masterpiece whose horizontal form shows the influence of its spacious California setting and the country’s new appreciation for Japanese design and culture. In fact, the Gamble House is often called “the ultimate bungalow” even though it is three stories high.
Pictured: The Gamble House, built in 1908 for David Gamble of the Procter & Gamble Co., was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1977. Learn more at gamblehouse.org.
Architects: Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene
Chicago Brick Bungalow
Not all bungalows reside in California. Rectangular Chicago Bungalows (built between 1910 and 1940) were made of brick with stone trim. These one-and-one-half-story homes include low-pitched roofs with overhangs, generous windows to bring in as much sun as possible, and an offset front entrance or side entrance.
Learn more at chicagobungalow.org.
This two-story Craftsman bungalow, built in 1912 in Atlanta’s Ansley Park neighborhood, features a shingled first floor and a second floor clad in stucco. White-painted trim and decorative half timbers highlight the home’s many angles.
Clad in clapboard, this remodeled Oregon bungalow features Craftsman-appropriate paint colors that call to mind the beauty of fields, forests, and earth. White-painted trim and tapered porch columns showcase the home’s Craftsman-style features. A new porch roof features a wide gable that copies the main roof’s pitch—transforming the home into a double-front-gable bungalow.
Following the Craftsman credo of using local materials, architects in the Pacific Northwest generally used Douglas fir to construct their bungalows instead of the redwood used in California.
Spanish Mission Style
Although included under the Arts and Craft umbrella, Spanish Mission homes boast a distinctive Spanish influence that sets them apart from Craftsman-style bungalows. Heavily influenced by the missions built in California hundreds of years ago, early examples of these houses were constructed from natural materials such as timber, stucco, stone, and adobe bricks. These homes are known for their arched entranceways, curved lines, roof parapets, deeply shaded porches, and red tile roofs. Today, Mission-style architecture has spread beyond California across the Southwest.
In the Midwest, architect Frank Lloyd Wright (who was a founding member of the Chicago Arts and Crafts Society) set out to design houses that harmonized with the prairie’s horizontal landscapes. The resulting buildings—known as Prairie Style—featured broad horizontal planes that hugged the earth, low-pitched rooflines with wide, overhanging eaves, and the use of native materials. Windows were arranged in horizontal bands sometimes referred to as ribbons.
Pictured: This new Prairie-style home’s horizontal profile and expanses of glass reveal Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence on Wisconsin architect Ken Dahlin. “The idea of architecture integrating with nature has always been important to me,” says Dahlin, who designed his family’s home to be energy-efficient as well as aesthetically beautiful.
Architect: Ken Dahlin
Tudor Revival Style
Tudor Revival homes, which are simpler versions of the Tudor architecture of medieval times, share characteristics with other Arts and Crafts houses. Just as with Craftsman homes, Tudor homes are constructed of rustic natural materials such as stone, brick, stucco, and wood. And their interiors put an emphasis on hand-crafted adornment such as decorative metalwork and carved moldings.
See a bungalow with Tudor-style decorative half timbers on the next slide.
Touch of Tudor
Built in Des Moines in 1921, this two-story Craftsman-style bungalow features a stucco and brick exterior, decorative half-timbers, and an earthy color palette that link it visually to Tudor Revival architecture. A front-gable roof extends far enough to shelter a sprawling porch.
Arts & Crafts Characteristics
So how do you identify an Arts and Crafts-style house when the architecture gets its inspiration from a philosophical point of view—encompassing everything from the artistic Gamble House to humble Craftsman-style kit homes shipped by train? Start by looking for horizontal forms, the use of indigenous materials, and architectural features that encourage interaction with nature. See the following slides for more specific examples.
Arts and Crafts-style homes hug the ground with low-slung, often asymmetrical forms topped with gabled roofs that sweep down over a spacious front porch. These homes display a strong visual connection to the site upon which they’re built.
Pictured: This bungalow’s upper level is an addition planned to blend unobtrusively into the original 1911 Craftsman design.
Roofs and Porches
Craftsman homes typically feature gabled roofs with prominent overhanging eaves, distinctive dormers, and large stone or brick chimneys. Sometimes these upper roofs extend far enough to cover open porches (used as outdoor living rooms) supported by square or tapered-square columns.
Pictured: This bungalow features a side gable roof. See a clipped-gable roof on the next slide.
Also known as a jerkinhead roof, this type of roof features gable ends that are "clipped" short (looking folded-over as a result) instead of rising to a point.
Earthy Color Palette
Early Craftsman-style homes’ exterior color palettes reflected the Arts and Crafts movement’s emphasis on natural materials, tending toward ochres, browns, olive green, and muted terra cotta reds. The earliest bungalows featured trim painted a different color than the body, but of a similar value (in other words, not much contrast). When trim is painted white or a contrasting color, it emphasizes the elements and makes them easy to identify.
Craftsman bungalows often sport projecting, exposed roof rafters and large knee-style brackets at the cornice (shown). Painting rafters and brackets a different color than the exterior of the house enhances their presence as decorative details.
Craftsman-style homes were clad in a variety of siding types: wood shingles, clapboard, stucco, and concrete—sometimes in combination. Staining the shingles (as shown in this detail from the Gamble House) was viewed as preferable to painting because it resulted in a more natural appearance.
Architects: Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene
Craftsman-style homes feature an abundance of windows, sometimes in groups or bands (shown). Double-hung windows often had upper sashes made up of smaller panes—usually narrow rectangles rather than squares.
Rustic stone and brickwork often made their way into Craftsman-style homes—as the foundation of the house itself or as part of the porch. This bungalow was constructed with stone piers below tapered porch columns, and a stone porch connected to a coordinating stone path. The more skilled architects of the time brought rustic stone inside the house to form fireplace surrounds.
In Craftsman-style homes, doors were made of stained wood and often featured hand-wrought metal hardware. If painted, door colors were in harmony with the rest of the color scheme—rather than the brighter hues seen in contemporary times. Doors often feature clear or leaded glass in the upper third. The inclusion of wide sidelights enhances a Craftsman-style door’s presence.
See the next slide for a view of the Gamble House’s stained-glass doorway.
The Gamble House’s front doors feature the stylized design of an oak tree expressed in layered glass panels: opalescent glass on the outside, iridescent glass on the inside.
Architects: Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene
Contemporary Craftsman Style
As a comprehensive movement, Arts and Crafts style remained popular until the 1920s. In terms of decorative arts and architectural design, however, Arts and Crafts has enjoyed numerous revivals. Some 70 years after its heyday, Arts and Crafts style began to inspire another wave of fashionable homes—one that continues today. Some architects stay relatively true to the original style, albeit with modern technology and more square footage to please modern homebuyers. Other architects reinterpret the style (for example, honoring the horizontal lines while using metal instead of wood) to create their version of Craftsman-style homes.
Pictured: Built as an Idea Home by Midwest Living magazine, this house honors the Arts and Crafts movement's dedication to craftsmanship and the use of natural materials. Like many of the original Arts and Crafts homes built from the 1890s to the 1920s, this contemporary house links itself to the land with an exterior of cedar shakes and shingles, combined with stone from local quarries. Other Craftsman-style touches include the home’s earth-tone color palette, exposed rafters, double-hung windows with multi-pane upper sashes, tapered porch columns, and front door framed with sidelights.