Home History and Facts

Guide to Craftsman Architectural Style

A Craftsman-style home in San Diego

If you’re looking for a home with character and individuality, a Craftsman-style home is what you may be looking for. If you’ve watched an episode of House Hunters, you have probably seen a Craftsman-style home, because many people find it charming and irresistible. This style is popular, and it isn’t going anywhere. Read on to learn more about the Craftsman architectural style.

What is the Craftsman Style?

This architectural style celebrates and promotes the work of the craftsmen and the handmade, over the machine-made. It also incorporates Oriental wooden architecture. Its defining features include a cute front porch, crafted woodwork, practical floor plans, and elegantly sloped roofline. There’s something distinctly American about the Craftsman style, and when you enter the home inside, there’s a simple wide-open layout that makes the most of the available space.

The Craftsman style emerged from the Arts and Crafts movement. In housing design and construction, Craftsman homes have support structures like beams and rafters uncovered to reveal the natural beauty of the design. It mainly features stone and hand-finished wood to expose excellent workmanship.

History of the Craftsman style

The Craftsman-style home design emerged from the 19th century artistic and architectural movement against mass-produced housing. During the time, Britain was experiencing an industrial revolution, and the Arts and Crafts Movement emerged, which stood against the mass-produced construction style in favor of handcrafted products.

According to the supporters of the Arts and Crafts movement, mass manufacturing separated the laborer and the artist. The art was no longer a design-to-finished product, and it meant workers did not have to learn the art of the design, losing the traditional skills of the craft.

Around the turn of the century, this movement reached America, which was championed by Gustav Stickley, the founder, and editor of The Craftsman magazine. His publication sold blueprints for homes designed in the Arts and Crafts style, intending to make serious architecture accessible to the masses. The term “Craftsman” was initially reserved for homes built from one of Stickley’s blueprints, but it has since evolved to become its own architectural style.

Main Types of Craftsman Homes

There are four main types of Craftsman homes, and all of them have their own distinct architectural profile.

1. Prairie style homes

Prairie style homes are the American variant of the traditional Craftsman-style home. It was popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright and is characterized by a low, sprawling profile and strong horizontal lines. It’s so-called prairie because it’s suitable to construct on flat pots of land. Most of these homes feature gable, low-pitched, or hipped roofs that overhang the perimeter of the house. It’s mostly built of natural materials like stone and wood and appears to be developed into the actual landscape. You can also expect a large, open-concept floor plan, an ornate front entrance, and windows set in groups.

2. Bungalow

A Craftsman bungalow home

The bungalow style is the original Craftsman style. It’s modest in size, with a broad, open porch and a distinctive façade. It has a single-story construction, a gabled or hipped-style low-pitched roof extending over a low-rise balcony. To add functionality and aesthetics, bungalow Craftsman homes have double-hung windows with many-paned upper sashes. The term “bungalow” originated from India, as well as the style. British officers who created the Craftsman design brought the Bengali style to the Western world, adapting the small one-story structures with wide verandas for keeping cool in the tropical climate.

3. Mission style

This is a Craftsman home with a Southwestern flair and is typically found in regions of the country-influenced with Spanish history. It’s reminiscent of Spanish Baroque architecture, making the homes notable for their distinct roof parapets and even ornate bell towers. These types of homes were originally found in the California coastline, but after the promotion of Gustav Stickley, the mission style Craftsman home was pushed into national popularity. Due to Spanish influence, you can find rustic materials, stucco walls, warm and soft colors, red tile roofs – which all evoke the Mediterranean feel. Home sellers and real estate agents also call this style as “Mission Revival,” “Spanish Revival,” or “Spanish bungalow.”

4. Four square style

The four-square style is the Craftsman home perfect for larger families. It was popular during the mid-1890s to late 1930s, and it peaked in popularity when the public interest in ornate Victorian homes subsided. This was the time known as the transitional period. The four-square style is identified by its signature square shape on the interior and exterior. It typically includes two and a half story construction, a front porch as wide as the house, and pyramidal hip roofs. It has less charm and fewer details than the more popular Craftsman styles and follows a smaller urban footprint than the prairie.

Architectural Features of Craftsman Style Homes

A Craftsman-style home in Texas

Their prominent features can identify almost all craftsman-style homes. Even though the style focuses on individuality, there are structural and architectural details that stay true to its Craftsman identity. Knowing these features, though, is essential in identifying a true Craftsman home from another. Here are the defining characteristics of this style:

1. Low pitched roofs

Low pitched, gabled roofs with low-slung rooflines are regarded as one of the most prominent features of a Craftsman-style home. It’s reminiscent of Roman or Greek roofing, inspired by classical architectural design. These roofs are better suited to warmer climates where ice and snow are not likely to accumulate for a long time.

2. Deep roof eaves

The low-pitched roofs of Craftsman homes usually have overhanging eaves. The deep eaves of the roof paired along with exposed rafters help it highlight the handiwork of the builders. The rafters can be in the form of simple tails or decorative knee braces. In most cases, the rafter tails are purely decorative, and it doesn’t provide any structural stability. It’s merely a design aspect added to show off the artistic skill of the builder.

3. Front porch

Craftsman homes always have a wide porch or at least a porch that covers at least the entryway. The full-width rectangular porch improves the curb appeal and makes the home look inviting. Whatever size the porch is, it’s either sheltered underneath the main roof or covered by a separate, extended roof.

4. Tapered columns

This is one of the most distinctive characteristics of Craftsman homes despite the variation in detail. The tapered columns support the porch roof, and it’s typically short. These columns rest upon the massive brick or stone piers that extend to the ground. These columns provide structural support and create an opportunity to show off natural materials.

5. Multi-pane windows

Craftsman-style homes typically feature windows from the Prairie architectural style. These windows have either four panes over one or six over one double-hung window. These windows are often grouped and cased in full trim.

6. Exposed beams

Usually, Craftsman-style porches are protected by a single section of deep, low-pitched roofing. This almost always reinforces the downward slope of the porch roof with a framework of exposed ceiling and support beams. The exposed beam showcases locally-sourced natural materials and handcrafted brackets or rafters.

7. Single dormer windows

A dormer, especially a wide one, can transform unused attics into livable space and bring in natural light. Wide, single dormers are used in Craftsman-style homes, unlike pairs of dormers that you can find in Cape Cod-style cottages. The single dormers in Craftsman homes are usually wide enough for two to three windows.

8. Open floor plans

To simplify the over-complicated and cluttered design of mass-produced homes, the designers of the Craftsman style reintroduced the concept of an open floor plan. To minimize interior walls, the Craftsman-style homes are made with a single story, in which each bedroom and bathroom are branching off from a central living room or family room.

9. Earthy colors

Craftsman style homes are often painted in earthy, nature-inspired colors of browns and greens to help low-profile bungalows blend seamlessly. While the color palette is mostly muted, one or two contrasting colors are used to highlight architectural features like decorative supports or trim.

10. Built-in cabinetry

The intent of the Craftsman style to display quality craftsmanship is evident in its building process even in the interiors. No Craftsman style home has no built-in cabinets – it’s a given thing inside it. Built-in cabinets are a great way builders show off their craft in a functional manner. High-quality built-in cabinets take some skill to do, and one will immediately recognize the handiwork of a craftsman through the flawless transition from walls to cabinets.

11. Natural materials

The use of natural materials is a foundational characteristic of the Craftsman style. Homes of this style are built with real brick, stone masonry, native timber, and rustic metals.

12. Fireplaces

Craftsman-style homes usually have central fireplaces integrated into the living area. The fireplace pairs design simplicity with high-quality craftsmanship. Most of these fireplaces are made of native wood and iron paneling to anchor mantel and built-in shelving.

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