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Know Your Architecture: Why the Craftsman style is so uniquely American

There can be many moving parts and lots of homes to consider  when it comes to buying the perfect house for you. One great way to narrow down your choices? Determine what architectural styles you prefer. Here, we give you the lowdown on one very popular American style: the Craftsman home. Find out what makes this architectural style so special  and why it is still so popular today.

A very brief history 

American Craftsman architecture is easily recognizable thanks to its simple style. It was born out of a reaction to the fussier architecture of the Victorian era, as well as to the industrialization of architecture. By contrast to the latter concept, the Craftsman style celebrated  you may have guessed this craftsmanship, the building of quality homes by hand using specialized skills. American Craftsman architecture took inspiration from the U.K.born Arts and Crafts movement and was prevalent from the turn of the 20th century until after World War II. Craftsman homes first popped up in Southern California, but quickly swept across the country, where many of them still stand. Each region put its own spin on Craftsman homes, via local materials, environmental differences and cultural influences.

The architectural features that define Craftsman style

There are different kinds of Craftsman homes, from the original bungalows to the larger houses imagined for families. Some are built almost as an extension of the landscape around them and called the Prairie Style, blurring the lines between interior and exterior, while others find inspiration in the cultural influences of their region, such as the Spanish-style Mission Revival Craftsman houses often seen in California, Florida and Texas. Craftsman homes can be made from a variety of different materials, such as stone, wood, stucco and brick. That said, there are some common elements to many Craftsman-style houses, including:

  • Low-pitched roofs
  • Wide eaves
  • Exposed beams inside and outside
  • Horizontal lines
  • Large porches delineated with boxy (and often tapered) columns
  • Natural colors that blend into the landscape
  • Decorative glass features in transoms and windows

Design elements inside Craftsman homes

Inside, Craftsman homes are cozy and warm, with smaller rooms and typically darker interior finishes, though offset by plenty of windows and doors to the outside. Wooden features and other natural elements grace the rooms of Craftsman houses, and there is often built-in furniture, nooks and shelving. You will find open-plan spaces in these homes, with rooms sometimes separated by arches. There are also often exposed beams and a fireplace, and natural colors are favored.

Famous examples of Craftsman homes

Pasadena, California, is often considered the birthplace of American Craftsman homes so a quick drive around the towns streets is enough to spot plenty of prime examples of this architectural style. One such house is the Gamble House by architect brothers Charles and Henry Greene, of Greene & Greene, built in 1908, and which can now be visited as a cultural center. The early work of Frank Lloyd Wright, one of Americas superstar architects, was in the Craftsman and Prairie veins, his 1910 Robie House in Chicago being a famous example of the latter. Craftsman houses are a beloved part of American culture to this day, and feature in a number of movies such as Back to the Future and Inception.

With their natural elements, cozy yet open-plan rooms and integration into their local landscapes, its no surprise that Craftsman houses  and new homes designed in the Craftsman style  are so popular with homebuyers today. Found all over the country, including right here in North Texas, a Craftsman home could very well be the perfect choice for you. Your Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty agent will know the best options  as always. 


Briggs Freeman Sothebys International Realty - Craftsman Architecture

House Beautiful - There's A Reason Original Craftsman Style Homes Are Still Around After 100 Years

Architecture Restoration - 4 Kinds of Craftsman Homes and What Makes Them So Popular
Los Angeles Times - Craftsman Homes: Simple Living and High Thinking
The Spruce - 10 Classic Features of a Craftsman-Style Interior
KCET - The Craftsman Homes of Pasadena

ArchDaily - AD Classics: Gamble House / Greene & Greene

The Gamble House


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