Arts & Crafts Houses Part I: Construction and Design

California bungalows in the Pacific Northwest. The predominant horizontal design of Arts & Crafts houses was a great departure from the verticality of Victorian house design.


The start of a new century in 1900, the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 – which cut ties going back sixty years – and a new, stylish monarch on England’s throne in the persona of Edward the VII, all symbolized a time of great beginnings. All things were being reassessed – housing, the place of women in society, and the introduction of new technology and services.

The early years of the new century were blessed by a time of economic prosperity that affected all human activity. House building – and more importantly, house buying – was no exception. The growing economy made it possible for great numbers of people to purchase their own homes for the first time. Cozy, economically designed homes allowed all these first-time owners to break into the housing market, with purchase prices that rivaled the rents of the end of the previous century. The great economic boom increased steadily up to just before the First World War.

In North America, the California bungalow was introduced as an affordable house style, in reaction to the tall, rambling Victorian homes covered with wooden ‘gingerbread’ of a decade earlier. Entire neighbourhoods were built in the Bungalow or Arts & Crafts style, expanding the suburbs of almost every city in North America.

This California bungalow has shingle cladding, with ‘roughcast’ stucco in the gable. A slight upturn in the roof was an influence from Japanese architecture, popularized by the Oriental pavilions at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition held in Seattle in 1909.

California bungalows were designed to be inexpensive.

Construction techniques were carefully checked to keep houses affordable. A single floor home, which is the main feature of a true California Bungalow, did not include expensive stairways or the digging of basements.

The average size of a late Victorian house was around 2,500 square feet in size. The average Bungalow home was much smaller – at around 1,500 square feet – making these new-style homes affordable.

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