The Arts and Crafts house design movement began in Britain in the late 1800s. The ornate opulence of the Victorian period paired with the dehumanization of the Industrial Revolution prompted William Morris, an artist, poet, and social reformer to fight for a return to hand-hewn craftsmanship. He favored simplicity, good craftsmanship and good design (Cummings, 2007).
The British movement had a focus on handicrafts, and spurned mass-produced reproductions, instead hoping to elevate craftsmen to the level of artists (with accompanying pay). There were accompanying movements in a number of other countries. In France, it was called the Art Nouveaux movement; in Germany, Jugendstil.
The movement in America was led by Gustav Stickley. Gustav Stickley owned a furniture company in New York, and was influenced by British reformers such as William Morris. He published an illustrated monthly magazine called The Craftsman from 1901 to 1916 that promoted the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement in America. His book, Craftsman Homes (1909) is a collection of designs from the periodical. There are architectural drawings, descriptions on construction techniques, furniture designs, and more for dozens of craftsman style homes. Essays on the art of home building, simplification of life, and the craftsman ideals promote beauty, creativity, and simplicity in life. These ideals inspired a young Frank Lloyd Wright who used these principles to found the Prairie Style.
Arts & Crafts Sub-types
In America, regional representations of the Arts and Crafts emerged. The emphasis on local crafts paired with the diversity in climate and culture across America created a variety of styles.
In the early 1900s, Frank Lloyd Wright began designing homes to connect with their natural environment. He designed homes influenced by the long, straight horizons and flat lines in the prairie. His designs would not only include the home, itself, but also the furniture and textiles.
The mission style was based on simple adobe mission churches, and incorporated the American Arts and Crafts hand-hewn emphasis on emphasizing form and natural woods.
The Bungalow Style was one of the first steps toward the modern Ranch home (Stermitz, 2007). The house has a horizontal layout without space for servants. The workspace for the woman was functional and the hearth was designed to be the center of the home.
This practical, boxy, two-and-a-half story home usually had four rooms to a floor and a large front porch (Wikipedia Contributors, 2007). The shape was intended to sit comfortably on small urban lots. Built in cabinetry and Craftsman style woodwork were common.
Characteristics of Arts & Crafts Homes
Arts and Crafts homes, in all their variety, share some common characteristics. Exposed rafters, beams, or rafter ends are common. Dormer windows in a variety of styles protect glass and create a welcoming entry. Foundations were often constructed of rock, sloping outward as they get closer to the ground. Exteriors were wood or stone with masonry chimneys, with large porches along the front of the home. Interior trim work emphasizes wood grains and built-in cabinetry. The beautifully simple, functional, and hand-hewn look of this home style appeals to many.