craftsman style home

Everything You Ever Wondered About The Craftsman-Style House

Hanna Kielar3-Minute Read
December 07, 2021

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When you think of architectural styles of homes, the Craftsman style likely pops quickly into your head. It’s right up there with other classic home styles, such as Cape Cods, midcentury moderns and colonials.But what gives a Craftsman house its distinct features? Let’s find out more.

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Craftsman-Style House Characteristics

You can probably identify a Craftsman-style house the minute you drive up, says Justin M. Riordan, founder of Spade and Archer Design Agency. The most common characteristics of a Craftsman-style house include:

  • A covered or screened-in front porch
  • Tapered columns that support the roof and are typically more sturdy at the bottom, becoming smaller at the top
  • Deep overhanging roof eaves
  • Exposed rafter tails, which are the beams that stick out of the house and can be seen under the eaves
  • Visible knee braces, the exposed triangle that supports a deep roof eave from underneath
  • Single dormers, centered and very large, often with multiple windows
  • Washed-out earth tones, with a color palette tending toward browns and greens – colors that look like they might have been pulled from natural dyes
  • Multi-pane windows, cased in wide trim
  • Partially paned doors, typically the upper third of the door

And most Craftsman houses share typical internal features as well, adds Timothy Bakke, publishing director at The Plan Collection LLC:

  • Built-in cabinets and shelves
  • Unique custom-made features like window seats
  • Handcrafted stone and woodwork
  • Natural materials such as wood, stone and brick throughout
  • A grand fireplace, often a central feature of the living room
  • A practical, open floor plan with few hallways and small rooms that facilitate access from the kitchen to the rest of the house

Where Does The Term ‘Craftsman’ Come From?

At the turn of the 20th century in upstate New York, Gustav Stickley, a well-known furniture maker, took his popular furniture style and expanded it into home styles. He founded “The Craftsman” magazine, distributing it far and wide, to sell affordable patterns directly to consumers.

At around the same time, the style popped up in Pasadena in southern California, created by two architect brothers – Charles and Henry Greene – who were inspired by both English reactionary architecture and Oriental wood architecture, says Kato.

The popularity of Craftsman homes widened throughout the United States, thanks to pattern books sold directly to families by other builders and through periodicals like House Beautiful and Ladies Home Journal, Riordan notes. While originally, the term “Craftsman” meant a home built from a plan in Stickley’s magazine, now it has expanded to indicate any home built in the Arts and Crafts style.

Different Types Of Craftsman Homes

There are four different distinct types of the Craftsman house, although all will have similar decorative details and an open floor plan, Kato says. They come in all sizes and price points, making them a great choice for anyone from a first-time home buyer to someone looking to move up.

The four main styles are:

  • Bungalow: This is the traditional style of Craftsman and the one we all picture in our minds when we think of a Craftsman home, Riordan notes.
  • Prairie Style: Frank Lloyd Wright is the father of the Prairie Style, which is a sub-category. These homes are low slung with strong horizontal lines and are mostly found in the Midwest, says Kato.
  • Mission Revival: While these mimic many of the lines of the Prairie Style Craftsman, their exterior is typically covered in stucco. “They seriously look just like the old missions of the west,” Riordan says.
  • Four Square: This is the working man’s version of the Craftsman, says Riordan. “They are named such because the two-story box comprised of four rooms on the first floor, and four rooms on the second with an internal staircase.”

Whichever style you prefer, Craftsman style homes have stood the test of time for their distinctive good looks and character.

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FAQs About Craftsman Homes

Here are some additional questions you may have about craftsman-style homes.

Where did Craftsman homes originate?

Craftsman homes emerged at the turn of the 20th century, and with their clean, simple lines, they’re considered an offshoot of British Arts and Crafts architecture, says Yuka Kato of home remodeling site

The look was embraced as the antithesis of the stuffiness of Victorian homes which reigned at the time. “The elements of Arts and Crafts were first made popular as a revolt against the industrial revolution and signaled a renaissance in handmade furniture and architecture,” Riordan says.

Where are Craftsman-style homes popular?

The style has become widespread nationwide, Bakke says, although they’re perhaps most common in their two birthplaces: upstate New York and southern California, as well as the Midwest.

How can I modernize a Craftsman home?

Modern and contemporary homes have their own unique style unlike other types of homes, and achieving this look with a Craftsman home is no easy feat. Using clean lines and minimalist decor, and creating an open-concept layout, will help you achieve an interior with modern characteristics.

The Bottom Line

Craftsman-style homes offer a distinct and classic style any homeowner can enjoy. Still not sure if Craftsman-style homes fit your taste? Look at our home buying quiz to see what type of home would best suit your needs.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is a Section Editor for Rocket Auto℠, RocketHQ℠, and Rocket Loans® with a focus on personal finance, automotive, and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.