The telltale signs of Craftsman-style homes—exposed woodwork, mixed natural materials, tapered and squared-off porch columns, wide overhangs, and open floor plans—account for much of the appeal of the style. Its refined yet rugged appearance is made to order for today’s back-to-nature aesthetic.
Craftsman architectural design, which touts simplicity of form and the use of original materials in handcrafted works, grew out of the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Championed by William Morris in Britain, the Arts & Crafts movement was a reaction against the Industrial Revolution and emphasized handwork over mass production. In the U.S., Gustav Stickley—designer, philosopher, publisher, and furniture maker perhaps best known today for “Stickley furniture”—was an early advocate and de facto leader of the Arts & Crafts movement. Stickley and his peers combined it with many of the features and emerging design motifs popular here. In 1901 he launched a magazine called The Craftsman, which published original house plans of numerous architects as well as designs for furniture and other handcrafted works. American Craftsman style would eventually take its name from this magazine. To promote the Craftsman style in architecture throughout the country, he founded the Craftsman Home Builders Club in 1903 to provide architectural plans from The Craftsman to subscribers. (Perhaps one of the earliest such house plan services ever offered.)
Popularity of Craftsman Homes
What made the original Craftsman style popular?
• Changes in popular taste—away from the highly detailed Victorian style, with its large bays, turrets, and fussy gingerbread trimwork, to a simpler, less ornate style
• Widespread criticism of poorly constructed, mass-produced housing, making sturdy, hard-crafted house designs more appealing
• Shift from patronage by architects and designers from the upper class to a rapidly growing middle class
Common architectural features of Craftsman houses include
• Exposed rafters and/or decorative brackets under eaves
• Front porch, often beneath the extension of the main roof
• Tapered, square porch columns supporting the roof
• Deeply overhanging eaves and gable ends
• Multi-pane windows
• Handcrafted stone and woodwork
• Mixed, natural materials throughout structure
• Open feel inside the home (even the earliest Craftsman-style homes had this—the lack of servants meant that the family had to manage everything, and that was easier with clear sight lines)
• Efficient floor plan design, with fewer hallways and small rooms and easier access from the kitchen to the rest of house
Today’s Craftsman Home—A Craftsman Revival with “The Modern Craftsman”
There has been a genuine revival in this architecture in recent years, what with the “green” and “back to nature” aesthetic pervading contemporary culture. But there are some differences in Modern Craftsman designs as compared with those from the last century.
• Truly open floor plans (though the first Craftsman house plans were already known for “knocking down” many of the walls that were so common in earlier homes, today’s designs take the concept even further)
• Large, spacious, open-concept kitchens
• Higher ceilings. High ceilings were viewed as very costly to build and especially to heat a century ago, and lower ceilings were a way to reduce costs. As building materials and heating and insulating technology have improved, so has the ability to create—and heat—rooms with higher ceilings without breaking the budget.
Browse The Plan Collection’s portfolio of more than 1,700 Craftsman house plans. We present this classic American style with tremendous variety, features to die for, and a house plan for every budget.