Craftsman décor is the warming, comforting end-result of a balance of beautiful built-in cabinetry, woodwork, natural materials, natural light and nature-inspired accent colors.
Origins of Craftsman Decor
The concept of a "Craftsman" style home was popularized by several furniture designers including William Morris and Gustav Stickley, leaders in the Arts and Crafts movement in the early 1900s. Stickley's magazine, The Craftsman, reflected the key elements of the Craftsman style which included:
- Practicality - The purpose and style were interwoven.
- Harmony with nature - The use of natural materials.
- Local focus - Use locally-obtained materials.
The Craftsman style today continues to incorporate many of the same design features of the original homes built all over the United States between 1903 and 1930.
As with most interior design styles, craftsman décor is a combination of elements, colors, wood tones, tiles and metal details. Each piece adds to the basic craftsman style:
- Simple shapes
- Strong lines
- Exposed joints
- Limited ornamentation
- Metals, stained glass and painted tiles to embellish solid, straight-lined furniture
- Stylized floral fabrics depicting nature scenes
The Craftsman house style was generally not a very large house as compared to many of the styles built in the late 1890s. The smaller size, combined with an open floor plan, built-in cabinetry and use of simple materials worked well for the everyday needs of a family:
- Wooden built-ins, fireside nooks and window seats in the dining room, living room and kitchen areas replaced the need for a lot of furniture.
- The floor plans were somewhat open, using tapered columns between rooms to define separate spaces.
- The walls were warmly paneled in local woods such as fir or redwood.
- The wallpaper depicted elements of nature such as rows of trees or flowers or fern fronds.
- The windows were placed to take full advantage of the natural light.
- The fireplaces reflected local stones and woods.
- The kitchens were warmed by the unpainted fir cabinets in simple lines with functional hammered hardware.
The furniture pieces had strong, almost geometric, lines with rich wooden finishes with minimal ornamentation.One of the popular chairs of the day was the Morris chair, a wooden-framed armchair which included two cushions (usually dark brown leather). The living room may have also had a matching couch, echoing the wooden arms and frame of the Morris chair.
Dining room furniture only consisted of a table and chairs, since the room had a built-in china closet. The table was straight-lined with little ornamentation. If rectangular, it was usually a trestle style. If it was a round table, it often had a simple pedestal.
Bedroom furniture included a simple headboard, often with hammered metal corners, simply-designed end tables and an armoire which functioned as drawers and closet.
Simply put, the décor colors were nature-inspired. The often dark tones of the paneled walls and furniture were enhanced by the gold tones of the mica glass lampshades, the forest green of the wallpapers and the sapphire blue and dusty rose colors of the lap robes in the living room and coverlets in the bedrooms.
Craftsman style light fixtures were usually hammered copper or burnished brass. They reflected the arts-and-crafts design and incorporated simple, geometric designs. The lamps were sturdy with either vertical stick styling or geometric shapes such as a heavy hammered metal base with a vertical stick up to the harp that held the mica lampshade.
Wall lamps and ceiling lamps also echoed the geometric lines, mica shades and hammered metal construction.
Dark paneled walls and woodwork was offset by off white walls. It was common to have a wall paneled up five feet, capped by a plate rail, leaving the top of the wall off white up to the dark wood ceiling molding.Living room, dining room and kitchen cabinets were usually of unfinished fir, often with glass lined doors.