Craftsman Style Architecture: An Overview

Our Piedmont Vacation Rental is an excellent example of turn-of-the-century Craftsman-style architecture. If you're not familiar with this architectural style, keep reading. And, if you have other questions, give us a call. We'll be glad to answer your questions.


In the late 1800s, the English Arts and Crafts movement began in Britain. The movement was a reaction to the loss of individualism and craftsmanship caused by the Industrial Revolution.

The Craftsman style of architecture grew out of the Arts and Crafts movement. Craftsman-style architecture can be seen as a direct reaction against the ornate Victorian architecture associated with the Industrial Revolution. In Craftsman-style architecture, form follows function, and designs tend to conform to the landscapes they inhabit. Craftsman-style architecture, as the name implies, also emphasizes expert craftsmanship, along with the extensive use of natural materials and organic forms.

In the United States, the popularity of Craftsman-style architecture was due in large part to the efforts of Gustav Stickley. Stickley founded The Craftsman, a magazine dedicated to applying the principles of the English Arts and Crafts movement to furniture-making and architecture. All in all, Craftsman-style architecture was extremely popular from around 1900 until the late 1920s, especially in Southern California and in the midwest. The style still remains very popular today.

Exterior Design

Craftsman-style homes tend to be small or medium-sized one or one-and-a-half story structures, with an emphasis on horizontal, rather than vertical, lines. Because Craftsman-style architecture is meant to fit its surroundings, designs tend to be asymmetrical.

Roofs are low-pitched and feature gables, overhanging eaves, and decorative rafter tails. A wide, open front porch is almost always present. The front porch is usually inset under the roof and may run the length of the front of the house, with thick, tapered columns at each end. Multi-pane windows and transom windows are typically used in Craftsman-style homes. It's common to see windows with multi-pane upper sashes and single pane lower sashes. A bay window with a small roof ledge is another characteristic of this style.

Exteriors are typically made of natural materials, including wood, stone, and brick. Often, the exterior will be painted wood siding, with stone or stucco accents. Colors were originally earth tones, such as greens and browns, but a variety of colors are used today.

Interior Design

Interiors of Craftsman-style homes have an abundance of natural light and lots of natural colors. Exposed wooden beams, interior columns, and thick crown mouldings are common. Other characteristics of Craftsman-style interiors include plenty of built-in wood components (bookcases, cabinets, etc.) and the consistent use of natural materials in all rooms.

Craftsman-style homes tend to have distinct rooms, serving specific purposes, that flow naturally from one to another. Starting at the front porch, you usually enter a small entryway (used for coat storage, etc.) that opens to a large open living room. The living room typically has plenty of windows overlooking the front porch. The focal point of the living room is a beautiful fireplace centered on an outside wall. The living room fireplace is almost an essential element to any Craftsman-style home, and is one of the style's defining characteristics. It's also common to have a set of built-in bookcases on each side of the living-room fireplace.

In a traditional Craftsman-style home, you'll find a dedicated dining room between the living room and kitchen. The dining room will have large widows and custom wainscoting or chair rails. The kitchen will features minimal ornamentation, straight, clean lines, and, above all, function. Cabinets tend to be made of real wood, rather than artificial materials. If the kitchen has enough room, you'll usually find a nook for eating a quick meal or having a cup of coffee.
If you think you'd enjoy staying in an original Craftsman-style home, consider booking a few days at Piedmont Vacation Rental, in the heart of North Portland's Piedmont neighborhood.