Five Coolest Things About a Craftsman House

Bungalow
Craftsman Bungalow as advertised in 1936 Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.

Craftsman houses originated in Southern California and grew primarily from the work of architect brothers, Charles Summer Greene and Henry Mather Greene (Greene & Greene). High style Craftsman houses are largely found in California, but smaller vernacular versions can be found across the country. They generally date from 1905 to 1930.

There’s a LOT to love about a Craftsman house! The best parts?

photo
Sketch of a Craftsman porch. Adapted from McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses.

1. Porches. Who doesn’t love a good porch, especially the deep, inset kind that is good for porch swings and general lounging? An extra plus: because these porches are tucked in under the main roof of the house and often have a low wall and thick columns, they have a certain amount of privacy and protection from the elements. Think draping foliage and a cool, shadowed breeze on a hot summer’s day. Pass the lemonade, please!

2. Dormers. Dormer windows provide visual interest at the roofline of the house from the outside and create fun ceilings and cozy nooks on the inside. What’s not to love?

3. Craftsmanship. There’s a reason this style is called “Craftsman.” Greene & Greene drew their inspiration straight from the English Arts and Crafts movement, as well as manual arts and oriental wooden architecture. This is a recipe for well-made houses with beautiful woodwork. The most thorough of the Craftsman houses use wooden pegs and other means of hiding or avoiding the use of nails and screws.

4. Exposed Rafters. There is something so pleasing about exposed rafters. They can make for higher ceilings on the interior and they give you a peak at the graceful structure of the building (though sometimes these “structural” elements are added for effect and aren’t structural at all!). Many Craftsman houses have extended rafter ends under the broad eaves on their exteriors. It gives a look of simultaneous sturdiness, grace, and interest.

photo
Sketch of Craftsman Bungalow. One of my favorite words: these columns that get wider at the base are called “elephantine” columns, think elephant feet!

5. They come in bungalow size! (It followed me home, can I keep it??) Of course Greene & Greene’s Gamble House is jaw-dropping, with its gorgeous Tiffany art glass and woodworking so thorough that some walls have no nails or screws to speak of. But for day-to-day life, what sounds better than a cozy little Craftsman bungalow? The one-story, vernacular version of a Craftsman house, the bungalow can provide nice woodwork, a deep porch, and dormer windows, while still being a comfortable size.

Resources:

Sears, Roebuck & Co. 1936, courtesy of Washington Dept of Archaeology and Historic Preservation

LA Times on the Gamble House The Gamble House

Virginia & Lee McAlester. 2011. A Field Guide to American Houses.

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