Craftsman Aesthetic Exploration

The aesthetic I have chosen to discuss is Craftsmen houses and how they are being restored today. I chose to discuss this aesthetic because growing up a big influence in my design tastes was from hearing my mom talk about Craftsmen houses and the type of intricate workmanship that goes into them. Now, owning a house that shows many of the same characteristics exploring this will further help me decide how I would like to add my own spin to it.

Craftsman house in Los Altos, CA by John Malick & Asso. architect firm.- photography by Carter Seddar and Marina Pinsky [1]

Craftsman houses developed back in the early 1900sin a large part because of the American Arts and Crafts movement [2]. This movement originated in Britain and was largely due to the degraded quality seen during the Industrial Revolution. This house is a recognition in the ability to create high quality handmade products that was not seen during the Industrial Revolution. I would argue that Craftsmen houses allowed for people to have a bigger sense of creative shine through in the houses that were built therefore making people want to put their best craftsmen ship into it.

1911 Craftsman house in Portland, Oregon. -photograph by William Wright [3]

Craftsman houses emphasize the handwork of people over mass production that was seen in the time. These houses are characterized by porches that have thick columns with stone supports in the front and usually have low roofs with triangular brackets and exposed beams. Other common architectural features include shingle roofs, siding, and hand-crafted wood and stonework. This is seen by the close inspection of the photo and the attention to detail in the staircase in both pattern and design as well as the jointed walls.

Craftsman house in Los Altos, CA decorated by KGB Associates as the interior designer. – photography by Carter Seddar and Marina Pinsky [1]

There has been a large effort to restore the original beauty in craftsmen houses while also keeping to the styles of the time. This includes updating kitchens to make the house more open concept as well as knocking down walls. Wood-Mode Fine Custom Cabinetry and companies like them have helped people restore their craftsman homes while also allowing for more modern amenities.

Woodwork and artistic details in kitchen by Wood-Mode Cabinetry in their showroom [4]

Although I do love the style of Craftsman, I personally do not enjoy how dark some spaces can seem. As a personal choice, I think that interior wood looks nicer painted if there is a lot of it in one room. Even when beautifully crafted, when wood accents over power a room I think it makes the space too dark and old if it is in certain spaces. I think this is a common recurring feeling seen in some of the younger people beginning to buy older homes. Many people are starting to bring in more color by painting the wood and adding colorful patterned wallpaper. That being said, I think that painting the wood does not detract from the craftsmanship that went into it.

Interior wall by  Vibeke Svenningsen an interior stylist. – photograph by Vibeke Svenningsen [5]

That being said, many people have started to incorporate things seen in craftsmen homes to more modern homes as well. This includes the popularity of having exposed beams in the interior and stonework fireplaces in houses. As well as the popularity of built-ins for storage and keeping spaces clean. Not only are these homes being modeled in newer styles they are also being revamped in new building plans and modular homes that all refer to Craftsman in their names.











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3 Comments. Leave new

  • Amanda Tetrault
    April 16, 2021 11:02 am

    Hi Hannah, I really enjoyed reading your post about the Craftsman aesthetic. I really liked how you drew your inspiration from prior childhood experiences. Thank you for exploring the details that make a home unique since my childhood experiences were seeing whole neighborhoods being developed quickly with all the houses looking the same. It is nice that people can renovate their cookie-cutter homes to bring in more of the craftsman’s aesthetics. I also agree that sometimes too much woodwork can make a space seem darker and smaller. I understand your focus was on the architecture but maybe you could have explored more ideas to add light to spaces. Last year, I lived in a 1900 century home where the woodwork was darker but the design had multiple windows which allowed more light into each room. I think the wood has more character than industrial/modern housing.

  • Yay, someone else also focused on architecture/ home design! I think you might enjoy reading my post about Tudor style architecture and comparing the Craftsman style to that.
    My biggest critique of your post is that you should NEVER paint quality woodwork! It pains me so much when people cover up the beautiful grain of hand selected wood. I suggest contrasting dark and light stains to keep a room from feeling too overbearing. Additionally, you can always use furniture to change the feel of a room (imagine a traditional hardwood library filled with all minimalist/ industrial furniture or boho plants and tapestries). Just remember that paint is about 100x harder to take off than to put on. Sorry, I’ll get off of my soapbox now…
    My second critique (1st real one) is that I think you could focus a little more on demonstrating the specific design elements that define the style. I think having a paragraph or two with accompanying pictures that really focus in on a specific design element would help me have a better grasp of the Craftsman style. I know that you spoke about several design elements in your post, but I would personally benefit from a little more of a deep dive on one or two.
    In any case, this is a wonderful post and it introduced me to a new style of home. I love that other people are interested in that kind of thing too. One of my favorite pastimes is to walk around a neighborhood of nice houses with all different styles and just admire them.

    • Hannah Moller
      January 31, 2021 1:12 pm

      Oh trust me, I understand the not painting quality woodwork and it is something I struggle with considering I can appreciate the lines in the work. Unfortunately, what a lot of people don’t realize is that many of the finer aesthetics of Craftsmen houses have declined do to no proper care or people gutting them to change it to be more current. That’s why unless you have the funds to redo these beautiful homes correctly, many times you are fixing other peoples lower quality work to better fit the house. I guess I should’ve been more clear to that in my post, I think it’s alright to paint the non-original woodwork to lighten up the space a bit more.


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