Craftsman House (Style Spotlight)

Craftsman house style

By Steele Marcoux

What it is: Craftsman homes were primarily inspired by the work of two architect brothers - Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene -- who worked together in Pasadena, Calif., at the turn of the 20th century. The Greene brothers were influenced by Asian architecture as well as the English Arts and Crafts movement (a reaction against the Industrial Revolution in its effort to promote the work of craftsmen and the handmade over the machine-made).

Where to find it: The earliest examples are in Southern California, but thanks to the popularization of the style through national periodicals like House Beautiful and Ladies' Home Journal and the subsequent availability of pattern books and kit homes, Craftsman bungalows became the most popular style of small house throughout the country from about 1905 through the 1920s.

Why you'll love it: Like many things that come out of California, there's something distinctively American about this style. Outside there are details galore, but inside there's a simple, wide-open layout that makes the most of typically limited square footage.

What Makes It Craftsman
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Craftsman House (Style Spotlight)

The low-slung rooflines reflect the influence of Oriental architecture on the style. These roofs typically have a wide, unenclosed eave overhang with decorative supports.

Roofs with a low pitch are typically better suited to warmer climates, where snow and ice are not likely to accumulate. They do require routine maintenance to make sure debris such as leaves does not build up over time.

It's rare to find a Craftsman bungalow that doesn't have a porch, even if the porch simply covers the entryway. Porches are either full (like this one) or partial width, and are either sheltered beneath the main roof or under a separate, extended roof.

Porches are a great investment — they extend the livable space of small homes and make it possible to spend time outside.

This is one of the most distinctive characteristics of Craftsman homes, despite the variation in detailing. Tapered columns, which support the porch roof, are typically short and rest upon massive stone or brick piers that extend to ground level, both of which convey a certain solidity. Not all columns are tapered; another popular variation is the double column.

Borrowing the very recognizable porch supports from the Craftsman style is a great way to get a touch of the look without rebuilding your home from scratch.

One great authenticity test of Craftsman bungalows is how their doors are styled. Almost all original versions have glass panes in the upper third of the door, separated from the bottom paneled portion by a thick piece of trim.

Swapping out your door for a Craftsman one is another way to incorporate a little of the style into your home. There are lots of great sources for new Craftsman-style doors.

Like a few other Craftsman details, this window style originated with the Prairie architectural style. The most common configurations are either four-over-one or six-over-one double-hung windows. The windows are often grouped together and cased in wide trim.

This window style is a great traditional or historical style for homes with a view, as the single-pane lower sash has no mullion obstructions.


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