The arts and crafts movement, which started more than a century ago in England, is often fused with more modern styles
The Arts and Crafts movement, which started in the United Kingdom in the late 19th century, has had a lasting impact on home design. Its signature details can be seen in everything from English cottages and California lodges to bungalows and modern coastal architecture.
Hallmarks of the style include low-slung roofs, deep eaves, large front porches, exposed beams, and the use of unadorned wood and other materials, according to Christopher Long, who holds the Martin S. Kermacy Centennial Professorship in Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Architecture.
Many of those design elements, as well as the quality workmanship and straightforward architecture, are still seen in contemporary homes, says Long, who was also co-curator of The Rise of Everyday Design: The Arts and Crafts Movement in Britain and America, an exhibit earlier this year held at the Henry Ransom Center at the University of Texas.
The movement, also called Craftsman, lasted through the first decades of the 20th century, expanding from the U.K. to the U.S. It was a response to the industrial age, when designers, architects, and artisans grew concerned about mass production taking over.
In contrast, Arts and Crafts homes celebrated craftsmanship and handmade elements, Long says. And raw materials aren’t masked or disguised. “There’s a truth in materials,” Long says. “Wood should be shown as wood, metal is metal, and so forth.”
Architects like the Greene Brothers, based in California, and Frank Lloyd Wright took up the mantle, spreading the style throughout the U.S., Long says. The movement ended around 1930, but architects and designers today borrow heavily from its key ideas.
“Craftsman style gels very well with coastal architecture,” said Nick Phillips of Landmark Sotheby’s International Realty in North Carolina. “There are a lot of similarities in Craftsman and much of the Tidewater architecture that we have in our area. Craftsman features like rafter tails, board and batten, and exposed beams all fit very well with southern coastal architecture.”
Phillips also points out that traditional Arts and Crafts elements work well with more modern styles. He is currently marketing a five-bedroom, six-bathroom “modern Craftsman-styled masterpiece” in Wilmington, N.C.
“It’s a fusion between modernist architecture and Craftsman,” he says. “You get the clean lines and the minimalist, form-follows-function style from the modernist, but with a warmer and more traditional touch with the addition of Craftsman trim details. The result looks more contemporary than a traditional Craftsman home.”
Priced at $2.3 million, the property was renovated in 2016, and features a classic Craftsman silhouette with its pronounced roof lines and front porch. But it also has floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, the great room has both exposed beams and a bright, updated space.
In Mendocino, Calif., exposed beams are a prominent feature of the Brewery Gulch Inn, a lodge represented by Sarah Schoeneman of Mendo Sotheby’s International Realty. She also co-owns the inn with her husband.
“It is very much in the Craftsman style, with lots of wood,” Schoeneman says. “But it has a contemporary finish with a gorgeous concrete floor that’s stained—it almost looks like rawhide.” The entire lodge was built from redwood salvaged from the Big River, Schoeneman says.
The Craftsman style touched more than just architecture. Lighting, furniture, wallpaper, and other interior design elements all were built with the Arts and Crafts treatment in mind. British designer William Morris, a leader of the movement, became known for elaborate wallpapers, which are still available. Color choices were inspired by nature, with an emphasis on blues and greens. Paint company Sherwin Williams carries a collection of the historic colors, ranging from Library Pewter to Dard Hunter Green.
At the Brewery Gulch Inn, they’ve continued that tradition, with much of the furniture and decor handcrafted by local woodworkers and artists, according to Schoeneman. The inn has 10 guest rooms, plus an additional two-room suite. The property is listed for just under $4 million.
Separately, American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School is closely associated with the Craftsman style, sharing the same attention to quality and handcrafted design. It is known for flat roofs with broad eaves that protect ample outdoor space.
A contemporary home in Jackson, Wyo., builds on that concept by combining the horizontal lines of the Prairie School with concrete, glass, and Kota stone, a limestone that comes from the Kota district in India. Wooden beams and window panes, signature Craftsman details, soften the home’s sleek modern lines.
Inside, the floor-to-ceiling windows frame views of the Teton Range, while the cedar ceilings, built-ins, and wood paneling give the home a cozy, solid feel. The four-bedroom, six-bathroom house is currently listed for $15 million by Brett Frantz of Jackson Hole Sotheby’s International Realty.
“All the windows and the glass provide what you want in this setting,” he says, referring to the sweeping views of the mountains. “The drama is nearly unmatched in Jackson Hole.”