What Is an Arts and Crafts Style-House?

A quaint arts and crafts-style bungalow with a white picket fence and flowering garden

Douglas Keister / Getty Images

Arts and Crafts doesn’t refer to one particular house style, but to an entire architectural movement that initially emerged in Great Britain during the second half of the 19th century. This movement was a direct response to the Industrial Revolution which radically transformed, with architects and artists pushing back against cold “futuristic” designs, and rejecting inferior mass-produced goods and materials in favor of traditional artisan-crafted ones.  

What Is an Arts and Crafts Style House?

Houses built in the Arts and Crafts tradition are known for functional floorplans that make their rooms suitable to various designs, décor styles, and uses. Many popular home styles are rooted in the Arts and Crafts movement, such as Craftsman, American Foursquare, Prairie School, Tudor,  Bungalow, and others.

Unlike typical British Victorian architecture, which focused on extravagant architecture and ornate details, the Arts and Crafts movement celebrated the beauty of the natural world, and was meant to harken back to a preindustrial world of simplicity. This creative ethos was applied to many creative pursuits besides architecture, including landscape design, furniture, and interior styling,

Here's what you should know about how this style came to be, its key characteristics, and what to expect in Arts and Crafts-influenced homes. 

What Makes a House Arts and Crafts-Style?


The earliest homes of the Arts and Crafts movement were designed to evoke centuries-old dwellings, using building materials with roots in the natural world: Wood, stucco, stone, and rustic brick are the most common materials used for siding. 

Inside, the layout of Arts and Crafts homes are designed for function above all else: featuring plenty of open space, and plenty of large windows to allow for sunlight. Arts and Crafts houses don’t limit the use of exposed natural elements to the exterior; inside, you’ll find accents of handcrafted stone or wood, and use built-in architectural features like shelves, seating, and cabinetry to bring the outdoors inside. 

On the first floor, an Arts and Crafts-style home will have an open living room that connects to a dining or multi-use space, with a small kitchen toward the rear of the house. In contrast to the well-defined spaces and boxy rooms of Victorian homes, Arts and Crafts homes utilized open floor plans emphasizing practical design that not only allows their owners to easily move about, but also to keep it well-lit and climate-controlled. The main living area will feature a fireplace, and if the home has a second story, there will likely be another fireplace in the largest bedroom. Ceilings were kept low to help conserve heat, which adds to the snug, cozy feel of these houses.

Here are the common features of Arts and Crafts-style homes.

Exterior:

  • Low-profile design
  • Gradually pitched gabled roof
  • Large, covered front porch
  • Support columns
  • Exposed rafters or beams
  • Detailed wood trim
  • Stained glass windows
  • Wood shingles or siding
  • Stucco accents
  • Earthy and neutral or bright, vibrant colors

Interior:

  • Functional layout
  • Hardwood floors
  • Open living and dining areas
  • Archways
  • Wood molding

The History of Arts and Crafts-Style Homes


Though the Arts and Crafts Movement began in mid-19th century Britain, its embrace of the handcrafted aesthetics of a pre-industrial world didn’t make its way to the United States until the turn of the 20th century, thanks to a magazine called The Craftsman. In that era, many houses across the country were built using residential blueprints found in magazines; The Craftsman’s simple plans were created by famed Arts and Crafts furniture designer Gustav Stickley, whose simple designs stood in stark contrast to the ornate Victorian styles that were resoundingly popular at the time.

The Different Types of Arts and Crafts-Style Homes

American Arts and Crafts architecture encompasses a number of styles popularized in various issues of Craftsman magazine. If you're a fan of this architecture, you're in luck—because of the wide dissemination of the magazine, these homes were popular from the East Coast to California. These are the most popular styles: 

Craftsman

bungalow style craftsman home

Joe Shmelzer / Getty Images

Craftsman-style homes are the most quintessentially American-style of the Arts and Crafts movement, and are characterized by wide, low layouts, gabled roofs, open floor plans, wood framing, and front porches that feature support columns and exposed rafters.

Bungalow

California cool bungalow style home.

Julian Porcino

American bungalow-style homes were designed to be easy to build, which made them affordable for early-20th century working families. A bungalow is a small house that, traditionally, is only one story high, though today it’s common to find ones whose attic space has been converted into a second-story bedroom. Bungalows are raised from the sidewalk with a short flight of steps and feature small verandas, overhanging eaves, and dormer windows. Inside, bungalows use their small space efficiently, with tight, compact closets, built-in cabinets, and shelving. 

Tudor

tudor style home - white tudor with brown siding

Jeff Vinnick / Stringer

Originating in Great Britain and popular among the monied classes, Tudor houses  — which are sometimes known as Tudor Revival, Mock Tudor, or Jacobean style— are large, multi-story houses made of brick with large sections of half-timbered white stucco siding, giving them a medieval appearance. Tudors have steeply-pitched gabled roofs with decorative chimney pots, narrow, multi-paned windows, and wooden front doors. Inside, Tudor-style homes feature plaster walls, arched doorways, beamed ceilings, and wood details.

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