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Design Focus: Craftsman Style

Handmade, crafted, artisanal – in recent years, there’s been a massive growth in people’s interest in personalized, custom-made and unique items, from furniture to alcoholic beverages and everything in between. The Maker Movement has taken off, with thousands of Makers across the world finding ways to invent and create solutions of their own, rather than relying on mass-produced, factory-made, sure to be redundant in a few years solutions. Handmade vs machine-made is growing, and it’s not the first time, either.

Perhaps it’s an early century thing, or maybe it just comes in response to over-industrialization, but here, in the early quarter of the twenty-first century, we’re seeing a very similar frame of mind when it comes to design, manufacture and architecture as was seen in the first quarter of the twentieth century. Give or take one hundred years ago, it was the Arts and Crafts movement, originating in the UK, which evolved into the Craftsman style when it hopped across the pond to North America. It was a design style that celebrated the skill of master craftsmen, and prized uniqueness over uniformity.

Naturally, over time, Craftsman homes would develop a particular look and feel, with certain design elements finding their way into most of these homes, but always with their own unique interpretation.

Recognizing a Craftsman Home

It’s rare to find a Craftsman home that doesn’t have a pitched roof with a front gable or cross-gables, a deep and inviting porch sporting tapered, angular pillars, and transitions between materials used as sidings. These homes typically include wood, stone and brick carefully matches together used as siding.

Most of these houses would be a bungalow-style house and would feature any of a number of specific styles, such as: dormer windows, exposed and extended rafters and beams, full-length porch support columns, reaching to the ground and resting on stone bases, exterior stone chimneys and foundation walls also covered in stone.

The adapted American Craftsman Style borrowed heavily from the Arts and Crafts movement, but incorporated the American love of simplicity and convenience – it was possible to order a ready-to-assemble kit home, which could be easily constructed by the home owner or general contractors. In fact, it is argued that this style of easy assembly building gave birth to the idea of modern-day stone and wood cladding – items which make it considerably easier to enjoy the beauty of stone, without the expense or massive building weight associated with complete stone.

Inside the Home

Craftsman Style also goes by the name Mission Style in North America, where the traditional angular and rectilinear forms of Arts and Crafts were combined with Native American and Hispanic architectural and interior design styles, to create something new and unique.

Handmade and crafted is the order of the day in a Craftsman home, where one will see earthy and organic colours on the walls, floors and furnishings. Furniture itself is solid, sturdy and made of wood – never excessively carved, however, as this style prefers cleaner, straighter lines and prizes simplicity. The stone, tiled or wooden floors will boast rich and tapestried locally made rugs.

The structure indoors will include the same exposed rafter, joists and beams seen outside, built-in woodwork, plenty of exposed and well-cared-for natural materials like wood and stone, fireplaces that serve as a focal point of a room, and an open floor plan.

Canadian Craftsman

The Craftsman Style of architecture and design has long appealed to Canadian home builders and owners, thanks to its simplicity and the ease with which it blends in with Canadians’ love of all things nature. It is not an ostentatious style, but rather a simple and practical one, features which have led this style to be used in the construction of homes throughout the country. It is most often found in middle and working class neighbourhoods, its sturdy construction with a pleasing exterior reflecting the practical, yet beauty-loving style typical to Canada.

Creating Your Craftsman Home

When building your own Craftsman-inspired home, there are a few things you can do to make sure the style rings true.

Start with a mixture of materials. Craftsman homes almost never stopped at one or even two materials for both the interior and exterior of the home, and neither should you. Wooden shingles, plastered or bare brick and stone cladding should feature in combination of at least two, and preferably three elements.

For a most classic style, start with a stone-look exposed foundation wall, a brick bottom storey brick – exposed or plastered – and with the top storey or attic level done in wooden shingle. If you’re transforming an existing home into a Craftsman look house, this is easily achieved with a variety of stone and wood veneers. Because uniqueness is so sought-after, you can indulge your personal preferences, looking for just the right manufactured or natural stone cladding to suit your new or renovated home. Thin Cut™ natural stone veneers provide the authenticity of real stone to your Craftsman home, without the cost or design challenges associated with full stones.

Angled pillars are one of the most immediately recognizable features of a Craftsman home, and should start supporting your porch all the way from ground level, where they sit on a stone or stone-clad base and rise to the jutting, pitched porch roof. These pillars don’t generally extend beyond the first story, though. These, again, are also simple to add onto an existing home, by transforming any existing pillars into these unique shapes and adding the stone and plaster finishes.

Multi-paned windows and a partially-paned front door are another instant identifier of the Craftsman home. Sash windows, for example, can be changed out so that the top half has several symmetrical panes, while the bottom half is a single pane. The glass panels in the door can either comprise symmetrical squares of clear glass, or patterned, stained and pebbled glass.

Exposed beams and rafters, both indoors and outdoors, can be planned into a new home, or added to an existing one with little effort. The exposed beams outdoors can be shaped into a variety of designs, to add character to the home. Don’t forget to include an exposed brick or stone-covered outdoor chimney for your indoor fireplace.

Indoors, you can make sure to once again include a mix of materials, from terracotta-coloured plaster on the walls, to stone or ceramic floor tiles, built-in wooden closets and cabinets – with or without glass panels – exposed wooden beams and, of course, the stone fireplace to go with your outdoor chimney.

Craftsman is a style that can be adapted to suit your personal tastes easily, and that can be used to transform an existing modern home into a classically traditional, uniquely North American, style.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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