Arts and Crafts Architecture: Design Style and Origins

The Arts and Crafts house style is one of the most recognizable and popular throughout the United States.

The ideas that produced Arts and Crafts houses began as a philosophical movement in England in the mid-19th century. These ideas had a broad impact on architecture and art through the end of World War I. The Arts and Crafts movement had faded by 1920, but these overarching ideas remain some of the most impactful today.

What is an Arts and Crafts House?

Arts and Crafts Style House

Arts and Crafts style houses feature a functional and practical design. Architects designed Arts and Crafts homes to react to the overdecoration of Victorian homes, so this home style has a simpler and more rustic look.

Exterior Features of an Arts and Crafts House

The elements of Arts and Crafts homes have exterior characteristics that make them distinct from other home design styles.

  • One or two-story designs
  • Low-pitched and angled roofline
  • Exposed rafters, beams, and knee braces
  • Detailed wood trim with a simple design
  • Small to medium-sized homes
  • Exteriors of wood, brick, stone, and stucco
  • Large chimneys
  • Use of wood shingles to create a textured exterior
  • Wide windows with small panes set within multiple assemblies
  • Large porches with support columns
  • Stained and beveled glass windows

Interior Features of an Arts and Crafts House

The interior features of Arts and Crafts style houses reflect this design style’s simple and practical nature.

  • Open floor plans
  • Heavy use of stylized natural and organic themes in interior decoration
  • Earth-toned colors and dark stains for home interiors and furniture
  • Built-in features like bookcases, seats, china cabinets, and room dividers
  • Fireplaces to create a warm and intimate space and a focal point for the room
  • Archways between rooms
  • Hardwood floors

Origins of the Arts and Crafts Architecture Style

The Arts and Crafts movement began as a reaction to the Industrial Age. Artists like William Morris became disenchanted with the effects of machinery and the uniform styles that artists produced. Instead, he advocated making goods people valued – not just producing them for production’s sake.

These ideas brought enthusiasm for arts and crafts, including a new interest in ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and furniture.

The Arts and Crafts movement also created an architectural style still prevalent in the United States and England.

A furniture maker named Gustav Stickley popularized this style in the US through his publications in The Craftsman magazine. He educated his readers in the Arts and Crafts style and inspired the building of simple-style houses known as bungalows or craftsman homes. This movement also inspired mission-style furniture, popular on America’s east coast in the late 1890s.

The End of the Arts and Crafts Movement

The Arts and Crafts movement lasted until just after World War I. During this time, interest waned due to the cost of hand-producing these elements compared with mass production. Yet, it lived on in other European movements, including Art Nouveau in France and Belgium, Jugendstil in Germany, and Sezessionstil in Austria.

There is also a revitalized interest in Arts and Craft design ideas in interior design and architecture as evidenced by the cottagecore movement.

Popular Types of American Arts and Crafts Houses

There is a wide variety of Arts and Crafts style homes. The most popular examples include Craftsman, Bungalow, Prairie, Mission Style, and Tudor Revival.

Craftsman Houses

Designers based Craftsman style homes on the ideas of the Arts and Crafts movement, but they are a particular American style home.

Gustav Stickley introduced the Craftsman style home in his interior design magazine, The Craftsman, which he distributed across the United States in 1903. Craftsman houses feature low-angled rooflines, earth-toned paint colors, large porches, wood trim details, and exposed beams and rafters. They also feature regional variations like centralized chimneys and specific exterior siding materials.

Bungalow Houses

People apply the word bungalow to a wide variety of small homes. In the United States, experts associate the bungalow style with the Arts and Crafts movement because of its emergence in the early 1900s and the Arts and Crafts similarities.

These homes are small in size, often featuring a single story. These Arts and Crafts houses have a small square footage, which feels larger because of the open floor plans.

Bungalows have wide-pitched roofs with dormers, allowing for ample attic space. This historic home style also features built-in options like bookcases and window seats to make the most use of available space.

Prairie Style Houses

The Arts and Crafts movement influenced the design of Prairie-style homes. But these homes also celebrated the beauty of the outdoors in the American prairies.

Prairie style emerged around 1900 in Chicago with a group of architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright. Prairie-style houses feature a strong connection between indoor and outdoor spaces with large windows and multiple doors.

These homes have a wide and low design with natural exteriors of wood, stone, brick, and stucco. The prairie home style ended around WWI, with its elements morphing into modern styles like ranches and mid-century modern.

Mission Style Houses

Mission style is an American Arts and Crafts home style that emerged in the southwestern portion of the United States in the early 1900s.

The Mission style combines elements of an Arts and Crafts home with historic Spanish architecture. As a result, mission homes are some of the easiest to identify. The exterior of these homes feature white stucco, hand-painted tiles, quatrefoil windows, arched openings, exposed wood beams, and painted ironwork.