The arts and crafts home, also referred to as the Craftsman home, is one of the most adored design styles of modern times. We wanted to explore the history of the craftsman style home and were surprised to find this design can be traced back a few hundred years. No matter how far back the history of craftsman style, it remains an attraction to many and a style loved by many.
Elements of Craftsman style homes are rumored to have been first used by the Hindus in India. They crafted thatched roof cottages with porches and heavily overhung roofs. At the time that the British colonized India, the British officers returning home from India in the 19th century brought with them the Indian Architecture and later adapted it when they built their own homes.
British movement to American Craftsman home
The American Craftsman style developed out of a British Arts and Crafts movement which dates back to the 1860s. This was during the industrial revolution. Libertarian William Morris started the movement in response to the Industrial Revolution’s perceived underestimation of the dignity of human labor and the individual worker in general. According to William and his compatriots, expensive materials and costly skilled labor meant that only the wealthy in society could acquire art and craft productions.
Interestingly, the arrival of the American Arts and Crafts movement coincided with the fall of the Victorian Era. Remember that that British movement was against the eclectic, over-decorated, aesthetic designs on which the Victorian era was based. The American movement supported the British movement’s philosophy. The two encouraged originality, use of local natural materials, simplicity of form, and the visibility of handicraft. As visible in early Indian bungalows, the Craftsman home was modest and affordable to a rapidly expanding American middle class.
In the last decade of the 19th century, a group of Boston’s influential architects, educators, and designers set out to bring the original design reforms begun in Britain by Mr. William to America. A meeting was organized in 1897 to organize an exhibition of contemporary Art and Craft at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston which was attended by local museum trustees, art collectors, art critics, writers, artists, and architects. A successful American Arts and Crafts exhibition was held in mid-1897 and The Society of Arts and Crafts formed in June the same year with the mandate of developing and encouraging “higher standards in handicrafts.” From then, the Craftsman style quickly spread across the U.S.
It’s simple and intelligent
The American Arts and Crafts style incorporates glass, wood, and metalwork artistically integrated to form simple yet elegant objects. In architecture, the style incorporated a sturdy structure characterized by clean lines and natural materials. It’s a house reduced to its simplest form with low, broad portions and completely no ornamentation. This gives a natural and unaffected design that seems to blend with any landscape.
The original American Craftsman home was a two-story square house with a hip roof. The roof was beautifully disguised behind a variety of two-storied bays. An assortment of gables, round or octagonal turrets, and wrapped porches nicely complemented the design resulting in a complex façade. Each house had a back wing comprising an entrance and a stairwell that housed; scullery, pantries, and a kitchen on the first floor; and a servant’s quarter on the second.
And, that’s the history of craftsman style homes!