Arts and Crafts-style homes may be one of the most complex styles of architecture. While there are many key features of an Arts and Crafts home, the style draws similarities from several other architectural aesthetics, making it a little more difficult to pick it out. In older homes. you'll find that Arts and Crafts isn't exactly a single style, but rather a specific approach to many different types of architecture.
The History of Arts and Crafts Homes
As a reaction to the manufactured and ornate styles of the Victorian age, Arts and Crafts-style homes embraced handcrafted design and approachable materials. The style originated in Great Britain in the mid-19th century and came to America around the beginning of the 20th century. The term "Arts and Crafts" refers to a broader social movement that encompasses not just architecture, but also interior design, textiles, fine art, and more.
The design movement began as a revolt against the opulence of the Industrial Revolution, where design could be needlessly overdone. Arts and Crafts instead focused on the opposite–instead of mass-produced and uninspired, the movement was all about being handcrafted and personal. The idea was that if quality could replace quantity, good design and good taste would prevail.
The Arts and Crafts movement was directly tied to the rise of Craftsman and Bungalow-style homes, architecture that played off of the same mentality of simple but thoughtful structures. Bungalows were intended to give working-class families the ability to own a well-designed home that was easy to maintain and manage.
What Defines an Arts and Crafts Home?
An Arts and Crafts-style home is typically very symmetrical and low to the ground. They are designed to use space efficiently and economically, and by nature require little upkeep if planned well. They often feature multiple chimneys and a very prominent "sheltering roof." Windows are plentiful, but often made up of small panes.
There are many types of architecture within the Arts and Crafts style, including Craftsman and Bungalows.
When looking at an Arts and Crafts home, you will find a few key elements that transcend across styles.
Roof: The roof of an Arts and Crafts home is typically low pitched, with wide, enclosed eave overhangs.
Exposed beams: The rafters on the roof and the beams inside the home are often exposed in an Arts and Crafts home.
Built-ins: One key element of this design style is the rise of built-in furniture. The movement brought a wave of built-in bookshelves, window seats, and cabinets that felt custom to the house and perfectly suited to the design.
Windows: The home's windows are typically made up of smaller panes and set in multiple assemblies.
Fireplace: An Arts and Crafts home often had a very large fireplace that centered the open living space and acted as a focal point for the room.
Prominent Porches: It's rare to find an Arts and Crafts-style home without an obvious porch equipped with prominent columns. The porch is typically limited to the front door area, but sometimes will wrap around the house.
Floor Plan: The homes of the Arts and Crafts movement featured wide-open floor plans, a stark contrast to the boxy, segmented rooms of the Victorian-style homes that came before.
Again, in an effort to reject the design periods that came before, Arts and Crafts homes were made from natural elements. The use of local materials was encouraged, and you will often see the use of real stone, brick, and wood throughout the home.
You'll also find fine handiwork features throughout the home, such as hammered metalwork and the use of authentic copper and bronze. Designers and craftsmen took pride in their work, and so an Arts and Crafts home will often feel well-made and thoughtful.
The Arts and Crafts style home is one that inspired and directly led to many of the houses you'll spot across America today. Because the design is that of handcrafted simplicity, these homes rarely go out of style, even as design trends change throughout the years.
Though Arts and Crafts design became less popular after World War I, the ideals behind the movement (well-made, handcrafted design) remained important throughout history. You'll still find examples of Arts and Crafts-style homes and the cozy Bungalow or the Craftsman home.