The language of buying a Craftsman home need not be an architectural puzzle. When a potential homeowner says, “I am looking for a cozy little cottage,” they are most likely referring to a style of residence that emerged as the most popular choice in the early part of the 20th century, when home possession became an attainable goal for the recently minted middle-class.
Craftsman homes were mainly inspired by the work of two architect brothers — Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene — who worked together at the turn of the 20th century. The Greene brothers were inspired by the English Arts and Crafts movement as well as by Oriental wooden design.
The earliest examples are in Southern California, but thanks to popularization of the design through national periodicals like House Beautiful and Ladies' Home Journal and the subsequent accessibility of pattern books and kit homes, Craftsman homes became the most popular style of compact house all over the country from about 1905 through the 1920s.
There is something unique about this style. Outside there are details galore but inside, there's a straight forward, wide-open layout that makes the most of commonly limited square footage.
The low-slung roof lines reflect the impact of Oriental architecture on the style. These roofs commonly have a wide, unenclosed eave overhang with decorative reinforcement.
Roofs with a low pitch are usually better suited to warmer climates, where snow and ice are not likely to gather. They do require scheduled maintenance to make sure rubble such as leaves does not build up over time.
It's rare to find a Craftsman property that doesn't have a porch, even if the deck simply covers the entryway. Porches are either full or partial width, and are either protected beneath the main roof or under a separate, prolonged roof. Porches are a great investment — they increase the liveable space of compact homes and make it possible to enjoy time outside.
Tapered columns are one of the most recognizable characteristics of Craftsman town homes. Tapered columns, which support the porch roof, are usually short and rest upon massive stone or brick piers that run to ground level, both of which express certain solidity. Borrowing the very familiar porch supports from the Craftsman properties is a great way to get a touch of the look without reconstructing your home from scratch.
One great credibility test of Craftsman housing is how their doors are styled. Almost all authentic versions have glass panes in the upper third of the door, divided from the bottom panelled portion by a thick piece of trim. There are lots of great suppliers for new Craftsman-style doors.
Craftsman housing is affordable. You can even buy your kit at retail shops and have the whole house delivered to site for the builders to assemble. You may have to pay a premium for Craftsman real estate for sale due to their sprawling footprint and naturally open concept. However, you can take consolation in the fact that Craftsman homes have traditionally maintained its standards and have withstood the test of time.