The Arts and Crafts Style (A.K.A. the Craftsman)

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It can be said that the Arts and Crafts style developed as an antidote to Victorian architecture.  Victorian homes, especially the “gingerbread” Queen Anne style, were characterized by heavy ornamentation, strong visual contrasts and colorful facades.  The Arts and Crafts movement “rebelled” against the visual excesses in architecture, and longed for simplicity, natural beauty and usefulness in the design.

The movement was started in England in the 1860’s by a small group of poets who initially set out to create wallpaper, tapestries, and furnishing materials in natural colors and textures.  The idea quickly spread to America where it was popularized by such magazines as House Beautiful and Craftsman.  Soon Arts & Crafts house plans began being published, and many architects and builders jumped on the bandwagon.

The Gamble House in Pasadena is one of the most famous examples of Craftsman architecture. Image courtesy of  Cullen328 .

The Gamble House in Pasadena is one of the most famous examples of Craftsman architecture. Image courtesy of Cullen328.

The idea behind homes built in the Craftsman style was that they should be connected to their surroundings, both natural and manmade, on a physical and spiritual level.  They were often built using locally available materials, and those materials were left as close as possible to their natural state.  When paint was used, it would be in natural colors, but many materials, especially wood and stone, were left unaltered in color.

The style was further characterized by exposed structural elements, especially eve brackets and rafter ends, roofs with broad overhangs, voids in the form of recessed porches and entrance ways, and well-crafted decorative details made of wood or stone.  The interiors featured spacious, open rooms, decorated with beautifully crafted natural woodwork.  A stone or brick fireplace was almost always present, as were large windows to let in as much natural light as possible.

The Marston House in San Diego is another well-known example of Arts & Crafts architecture. Image courtesy of  Photojack53 .

The Marston House in San Diego is another well-known example of Arts & Crafts architecture. Image courtesy of Photojack53.

The architectural style of the home was only part of the overall design.  Furniture, wallpaper, carpets and accessories all played an important part in achieving the complete look of the Arts & Crafts movement.  A large number of artisans in the beginning of the 20th century specialized in designing Arts & Crafts interior elements emphasizing simplicity, function and natural beauty.  Building plans for these homes often included lists and pictures of suggested furniture and accessories.

While the Arts and Crafts movement ended in the late 1910’s, many architects, most notably Frank Lloyd Wright, developed their own styles that were rooted in the movement.The style is still popular across the country, and today many Craftsman homes can be found in our area as well.

Architecture Blog

Starting in 2003, this blog series ran for 11 years.  Click on the images below to read some of the posts.

Dutch Colonial

Dutch Colonial

Georgian

Georgian

Folk Victorian

Folk Victorian

Greek Revival

Greek Revival

Tudor

Tudor

Mission

Mission

Queen Anne

Queen Anne

International

International