The United States is a country with a unique architectural style, especially when it comes to suburban residences. The sprawling nature of the country and a pioneering engineering spirit has spurred several distinct movements in residential architecture and diverse regional stylings that make American housing particularly interesting.
One of the most important products of this architectural spirit is the Craftsman house. Emerging at the turn of the 20th century out of the American Craftsman movement, these homes exemplify a rebellion against the status quo of the mass-produced, ornamental Victorian architecture fueled by the economic boom of the Industrial Revolution.
While late 19th-century Victorian homes showed off the advances of American manufacturing through ostentatious detail and decor, the American Craftsman movement emphasized individualistic, hand-worked goods and buildings. It was a return to the beauty of natural materials and forms, a celebration of manual labor, and an encouragement of personal flair and detail.
Craftsman architecture became popular throughout the American Midwest and Southern California in the early 20th century, with architects like Myron Hunt, Henry and Charles Greene, and perhaps, most famously, Frank Lloyd Wright headlining the movement and putting their own stamp on the style. Today, you can find Craftsman homes all over the country in myriad styles.
Craftsman homes are similar to bungalows in size and structure, but have different architectural roots and inspiration. These types of homes have plenty of open space and windows to allow natural lighting, are designed for easy construction, and tend to have a small footprint of only one or two stories. The second story is often nestled under the roof.
Although they may vary a bit by region, you can usually identify a Craftsman from the outside by its gabled roof that extends past the home’s exterior walls. Unlike the steeply pitched gables of Victorian homes, Craftsman homes have less pronounced, softer pitches on their roofs. They may have large single dormers above windows or even feature stained glass windows.
Craftsman homes commonly utilize natural building materials like wood, stucco, stone, or brick. Likewise, most feature earthy exterior tones although some owners paint modern craftsman homes brighter colors.
Craftsman is an umbrella term, under which you’ll find a number of different styles. These different styles reflect the time period they were built, the region in which they reside, and the personality of their architects.
The classic, original Craftsman homes date back to the late 19th century through the 1930s. These homes feature the signature elements listed above, although many have been renovated since their original construction.
Still, a well-maintained original Craftsman will have neutral exterior colors, natural accents, and the signature interior woodworking elements.
Most frequently seen in the Midwest, prairie-style Craftsman homes are the signature style of architect Frank Lloyd Wright. These homes incorporate low-to-the-ground designs similar to original Craftsman designs and feature pronounced horizontal lines and sprawling floor plans.
Usually, Prairie-style homes are more rectangular than original Craftsman homes and have fewer ornamental exterior accents. They’re often built to blend into hills which gives them a more contemporary look than the original style.
Found mostly in Texas, Florida, and California, Mission Revival homes offer a Southwestern influence to the original Craftsman design.
These homes maintain the natural characteristics with details like stucco exteriors, clay roof tiles, and interior archways emulating the Spanish mission churches of the American Southwest.
Bungalows are one of the most popular types of Craftsman homes as they’re similar to more conventional cottage-style homes. Bungalows are particularly influenced by regions and defined more by their layout than architectural details.
Usually one-story homes, bungalows have practical, open floor plans that make the living space and kitchen the central features of the home. If a bungalow does have a second story, it’s typically built into the roof, with dormer windows that allow natural light to reach the upstairs space. Designs often include covered porches or verandas to provide some outdoor living space since bungalows are small.
Craftsman homes are popular. They are fairly common, often architecturally interesting, and provide a functional layout that appeals to many people. Many Craftsman homes also have some historic appeal, especially if they’re well-maintained.
That said, they can be a bit expensive for the amount of square footage you get. If you’re looking for a lot of living space and many bedrooms and bathrooms, a Craftsman house might not be for you. But if you’re looking for a home that is simple, practical, and interesting, a Craftsman is worth checking out.
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