What is a craft style house?

You might not recognize the name, but you would definitely recognize the look: a simple yet solid-looking square house, with stairs leading to a covered porch and beams supporting a V-shaped roof. The Craftsman-style home can be found all over the country, with a particularly large presence in the West and Midwest — and it remains as popular today as it was when it emerged over a century ago.

Let’s take a closer look at this quintessential American apple pie house style, including its history, features, and cost.

What is the history of the Craftsman style?

Although the Craftsman style was born in the US, it was inspired by the British Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century. Arts and Crafts proponents and designers such as John Ruskin and William Morris wanted to move away from the mass-produced, machine-made goods that emerged from the Industrial Revolution, opting instead for high-quality craftsmanship and artistry. They also rejected fussy, detail-laden Victorian styles, in favor of a simpler, functional aesthetic.

Among their followers across the Atlantic was American furniture designer Gustav Stickley, who in 1901 began publishing a magazine called the craftsman, which showcased the Arts and Crafts movement and practical applications of its principles. The magazine published articles showing readers how to build their own furniture, crafts and houses – simple, airy, one or two-storey structures, with open, light interiors, built in harmony with their landscape and preferably from local materials. It founded ‘The Craftsman Homebuilders Club’, whose members could receive free blueprints, specifications and even kits for houses, later dubbed the ‘Craftsman’ style in tribute to Stickley’s publication.

Meanwhile, other architects and designers developed designs in a similar vein—particularly Charles and Henry Greene of Pasadena, two brothers who popularized bungalow homes. Thanks to the work of the Greenes, California was one of the places where the Craftsman style initially flourished. Today, several of their homes are still in use, including the National Register of Historic Places-listed Gamble House in Pasadena.

The Craftsman style’s heyday ran from the early 1900s to the late 1930s. Though it never quite stopped, other styles began to supplant it in the suburbs of post-World War II America.

What characterizes the Craftsman style?

There are a number of similarities that give Craftsman homes their distinctive look—both on the outside and inside.

“The intent of Craftsman homes was to create a connection between people, their home, and nature, so it’s common to see features that contribute to that goal,” said Shaun Larson, a real estate agent at PARKS Real Estate, based in Brentwood, Tennessee. “The interior and exterior both have materials that are natural and full of texture, and they are exposed to be part of the home’s finish rather than hidden with purposeful finishing materials.”

External functions

While they may look slightly different from house to house, one of the most striking features of a craftsman is a low-pitched gabled roof with exposed rafters or beams. Sitting under the roof you will find a covered porch.

“Front porches are considered a signature part of Craftsman homes,” said Jeff Tricoli, a real estate agent in Palm Beach County, Florida with Keller Williams. “They can be in the form of a wraparound porch or a small, covered patio that leads to the front door of your home.”

Craft-style properties also tend to have earthy exteriors in materials such as brick, stucco and painted wood siding, Tricoli says. These bring a natural, down-to-earth aesthetic into the homes.

Finally, these types of houses contain support columns that are generally narrower at the top and wider at the bottom. In most cases, they are square in shape rather than round.

Internal functions

While the exterior features are most distinctive, the Craftsman style also appears in certain elements of the home.

For example, Craftsman floor plans are usually functionally designed, with open, arched entrances between the different rooms that create a pleasant flow. All interior spaces in a Craftsman home are conducive to cozy living and connection, Larson says. Fireplaces are a common feature.

Craft-style home interiors are also often made from natural materials, such as wood and stone. Often these features and fixtures are handmade as a reflection of the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement. By modern standards, however, the predominance of wood and the rather small rooms can make Craftsman homes feel dark, despite the often spacious presence of large bay windows.

Different types of craft houses

Although they share certain characteristics, there are actually different types of artisans. The four most prominent are:

Bungalow

These are the original Craftsman houses, usually designed with a low pitched roof, double windows and tapered columns that are thicker at the base. Bungalow Craftsman homes are typically single-story buildings and became popular in Southern California in the early 1900s.

Prairie

Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie-style Craftsman homes have a low profile, with spacious floor plans and distinctive horizontal lines. Craftsmen like this are most often found in the Midwest, and their design is meant to emulate and blend in with the wide-open plains in that region (hence the name).

Mission Revival

Full of Spanish and Mediterranean influences, these artisans often incorporate mission-like accents and are constructed of stucco, terracotta, and red tiles—following the Arts and Crafts mantra of using local materials. Like the Bungalow Craftsman, they are most popular in the Golden State, but can also be found in Florida, Texas, and the Southwest.

Four Square

Four Square Craftsman style houses are a larger version of original Craftsmans, which were usually modest one-story residences. They usually have four rooms on the first floor and four rooms on the second (hence the name). However, these two- or two-and-a-half-story boxy properties, which can be found all over the country, have many of the same traditional features, including columns and low-pitched roofs.

How Much Do Craftsman Homes Cost?

The cost of a Craftsman home depends on several factors, including location, size, and condition. In more affordable areas like the Midwest and the South, you can find one-story craftsmen for sale for about $300,000 and up. However, prices rise dramatically if you’re looking for a larger, multi-story home or if you live near a major city, where Craftsmans routinely sell for over $1 million. In Virginia, where it is the most valuable house style, an average craftsman can cost just over $900,000.

That may seem expensive relative to their size or lot area, but keep in mind that many craftsmen’s homes are 100 years old (if not older), putting them in a historic home area. They may even be the work of a well-known architect. So you may be paying a premium for their family tree.

Not interested in buying a vintage Craftsman? You can also build one yourself. Again, costs will vary quite a bit depending on where you live, the materials you choose, the size of your new home, and how committed you want to be in recreating the quality craftsmanship and unique details.

On average, the cost of building a 2,000 square meters. new home in the United States is just over $280,000, according to HomeAdvisor; the average cost to build a similarly sized Craftsman-style home is between $300,000 and $325,000, estimates real estate search site Clever. If you opt for a more modest 1,500 sq ft bungalow with a partial second story — similar to the original models Stickney envisioned — the average price goes up to $187,500, according to Fixr.com.

Final Word on Craft-Style Homes

A staple of American architecture, the Craftsman house can be found in every corner of the country, in a number of different variations and price points. Practical and adaptable, it has been perennially popular for over a century, a quintessential middle-class neighborhood home.

However, if you are thinking of buying one of these types of homes, it is important to think beyond their charming appearance and consider the special maintenance that may be required due to their age. If you’re building one, keep in mind that it may cost more than a contemporary style, especially if you want to give it the same loving attention to detail, material and craftsmanship.

Leave a Reply