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Craftsman style house

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, Mid-Century Moderns and Colonials.

But what gives a Craftsman house its distinct features? Let’s find out more.

The Unmistakable Look of a Craftsman Home

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 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 cabinetry 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

Crafting the History of the Craftsman House

The history of Craftsman style houses is a bit muddled, as history often is. They emerged at the turn of the 20th century, and with their clean, simple lines, they are considered an offshoot of British Arts and Crafts architecture, says Yuka Kato of home remodeling site Fixr.com.

The look was embraced as the antithesis of the stuffiness of Victorians 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.

The style appears to have been popularized on both coasts around the same time.

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.

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

A Craftsman Home for Every Taste

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 most commonly 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 was 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.

Interested in a Craftsman house? Try the Quicken Loans mortgage calculator to find out what price point you can comfortably afford.

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This Post Has 30 Comments

  1. Hi! My husband and I just purchased a home that I believe is a Craftsman style home. The realtor that listed it called it Contemporary, but after a lot of Googling I don’t think that’s correct. It seems to match a lot of the descriptions you give, but I would like to be sure. Can I send you a picture? Anywho, I love all the built-ins in the house, 2 china cabinets in the dining room and 2 cabinets on either side of the fireplace and the upstairs bathroom also has built-ins as well. The rooms have a lot of flow, so as I always say, there’s always an escape route! One thing that really makes this house stand out is the bowed windows in the front, it was highly sought after when it came on the market. Thanks so much!

    1. Hi Lisa:

      I’m not an expert in the craftsman style, but if it seems to match the descriptors in this post, there’s a good chance it’s in the craftsman style. I’m really glad you like the look of the house.

  2. Hello from Greece!
    I enjoyed your article,must say!..
    I always loved american style homes-from ranches to craftman style.
    Always from movies,ofcource!…So,please,explain me something:The middle-class houses as the home of Al Buddy in “Married with children” or the house of Michael Douglas’ex wife in “Falling Down”,are craftman style houses?
    If not,what kind of style are they?
    I’ll be looking forward for your answer!
    Thank you in advance,

    1. Hi Odysseus:

      The house in Married with Children is not a traditional craftsman style because these are typically defined by being a bungalow, which that is not. I can’t find a full screenshot of Michael Douglas’s ex-wife’s house, but it looks like it could be a bungalow. I tried to look up the address on Google Maps and it looks like the house no longer exists. It’s been replaced by a multi-family housing complex. Hope this helps!


      1. Not really!..I’m still searching for the midle-class amrican house with the grass front-yard,the back-yard,the back door ,etc…
        Thank you,anyway.

        1. Any number of American houses could fit that description. I would suggest doing a Google search for ranch-style homes.

  3. Hello! I stumbled across your article while researching what craftsman interiors look like. Still looking lol! I love my home that we recently purchased here in GA. While it was built in 1970, the person who built it, I believe, built it with a craftsman style mindset. The originl house wasn’t very big, it’s was a single story with two dormer windows, it has a large covered front porch. There’s brick and what appears to be wooden shakes under the siding (of which I’d love to bring back). I have a large handcrafted fireplace, lots of stained glass windows, paneled windows, etc. and lots of wood features inside like door casings and floors, even a spiral staircase to the floor where the dormers are. Not really a full second story but a large room and bathroom. It screamed 70’s when we moved in and we have since started to renovate and bring it back to a more craftsman feel. So, with that being said, what does the inside consist of? What types of countertops and flooring do I use? What type of lighting? Color scheme? I’m trying to stick to a neutral pallet but don’t mind some other ideas to help!

  4. Im buying a home that im pretty sure is of craftsman style but tere isnt any of the fantastic wood work inside or any signs of it ever being there and it doesnt have the tapered colums.. it has a hipped roof and unenclosed wide eaves with beams exposed and the brackets..it was built in 1915… is there any reason for certain craftsmans to be plain in design…on the exterior i intend to take it to craftsman style in appearance

    1. Perhaps you could research at the courthouse. You might be lucky enough to find a picture or details of your home. The courthouse or abstract may afford you names of previous owners who might offer information or pictures, as well.

      1. Hi Tammy:

        I assume you’re going to be going through a divorce. I would make sure to ask your divorce attorney about this. I looked it up and Colorado is not a community property state. It’s a marital property state. From what I can find online, this means a judge must try to decide how to divide up any property obtained during the marriage fairly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean equally. You need to talk to someone who’s familiar with the state laws in Colorado.

        Kevin Graham

    1. Hi Elizabeth:

      That’s a great question. I don’t know the answer. That’s perfect for a future article or update though. If I find out, I’ll make sure to get back to you.

      Kevin Graham

    2. Don’t know if all craftsman had two front doors, but just went on a tour of homes in German Village Columbus Ohio and found out that Italianate homes had two front entrances, one entrance for family and one for servants!

  5. Thanks for beautiful written article and pics….I am under contract of a 1924 bungalow in Long Island. That’s why I am googling articles on it..I am glad that when seeing the house I recognized the style ( seems a Vallonia Sear kind) while my agent and seller agent were both quite confident to call it Cape or Colonial…some buyer even fooled by the front face picture (too perfectly centered) and believed it was too small. But it is very deep with much bigger open foundation (basement) than a cape or a colonial and second floor is big tall too…I got the deal…I also surprised to learn that the last pic in this article was not a colonial which I saw a lot in Queens, NY)

  6. I am unfortunately having to move out of this area of Northern Calif in Grass Valley and have had no luck in selling my Craftsman cottage custom designed in 2008 of 1650 square ft. This beautiful home is on 6 acres with established perennial gardens. Sadly the buyers are looking for the Ranch style in homes here.

    1. Hi Deborah:

      It will sell eventually. It’s a seller’s market right now, so I feel like it eventually someone will come along that’s looking for a house. Craftsman cottages are very beautiful and will appeal to a buyer.


  7. Amanda, Great info. I’ve always admired the workmanship that went into a Craftsman’s Home. My Auntie lived in one in Long Beach, CA in mid 1960s. As a kid, we found all kinds of hidden compartments in walls, staircases, and behind the built-in cabinetry. I loved the big open porches and the kitchen and dining room was a work of art. I too said to myself, that when I grow-up, I’m going to buy me a Craftsman’s Home someday. Well, that still hasn’t happened. Living on Oahu, the prices are like Pasadena prices; unattainable. But, I’m always looking for ways to incorporate the Craftsman’s Style into my current home. That’s why I stumbled onto this site. Looking forward to more info.

    1. I’m glad to hear you liked it! We’re always hoping to provide new and interesting content to our readers. Have a great day!

    2. Thanks, Rolf!
      There is something so magical about this style, isn’t there? I still haven’t bought a Craftsman either, but I’m still hanging onto that dream. One day, it’ll happen for us! Thanks for your kind comment, and your inspiration to write more about this style. Take care!

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