Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About a Craftsman-Style House

The front of a 1920s craftsman style on a sunny day

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By design, Craftsman houses are meant to evoke quieter, quainter times, dating back to the 20th century. Here's what you should know about how this style of home came to be, its key characteristics, and what to expect in the interior of a craftsman home.

The History of Craftsman Homes

Midway through the 19th century, after decades of watching the Industrial Revolution radically transform, well, everything, British architects and artists began to push back against the “vulgar” design and inferior quality of mass-produced goods in what would come to be known as the Arts & Crafts Movement.

This 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, when it became popularized by a magazine called "The Craftsman," which sold house blueprints by famed Arts & Crafts furniture designer Gustav Stickley. Sticky’s simple designs stood in stark contrast to the ornate Victorian styles that were popular at the time, and soon enough, an American design movement was born. 

Characteristics of Craftsman-Style Architechture

New England craftsman house exterior.

RAYMOND FORBES PHOTOGRAPHY/Stocksy

As they were designed for easy construction and resemblance of century-old dwellings, Craftsman homes feature plenty of open space and windows to allow for natural lighting and a relatively small footprint, with only one or two stories. 

From the outside, Craftsman homes can most easily be identified by their low-pitched roofs with wide eaves that extend several feet past the house’s exterior walls, under which you can often find exposed rafters or minimalist-decorative brackets. At the front, the eaves will extend far enough to create a covered porch, with tapered columns for support.

As they’re built to celebrate a natural form of beauty, the building materials of a true Craftsman home will have their roots in the natural world: wood, stucco, stone, and rustic brick are the most common materials used for siding. Large single dormers will sit above multiple windows, and houses dating back to the original movement will often feature decorative stained glass.

Inside a Craftsman Home

The use of natural materials continues inside the home, with accents of handcrafted stone or wood and built-in architectural features like shelves, seating, and cabinetry. Craftsman houses utilized open floor plans long before they were cool, emphasizing practical design that not 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 snug, cozy feel of these houses.  

Though the term “Craftsman” originally applied solely to homes built from Stickley’s blueprints, today it encompasses a number of styles built containing some of the signature features from his designs. At their heart, Prairie-style, Mission Revival and Bungalow homes are all a part of the Craftsman movement.

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