Arts & Crafts Houses Part I: Construction and Design

Designers, contractors and architects almost eliminated interior hallways in the floor plans of Arts & Crafts houses. This design change effectively reduced overall expensive floor space, while maintaining ‘living’ space.



A typical Bungalow floor plan c 1912. Note the door opening directly to the Living Room; the almost total lack of hallway space, the colonnade between Living and Dining rooms and the built-in closets and built-in furniture. All of these features were new innovations in the Arts & Crafts homes.

Colonnades – the arches between rooms that were usually defined by pairs of columns – were cleverly used by designers to visually join spaces, in order to make rooms appear larger than they were.

The inclusion of built-in furniture and closets made the houses affordable for new buyers, who had little furniture of their own to bring from rented accommodation. Built-in closets replaced the moveable wardrobes of Victorian times, and built-in bookcases, china cabinets, window seats and sideboards meant that few new items of furniture needed to be purchased for the new Bungalow house.

The exteriors of Bungalows and other Arts & Crafts-style homes were constructed with cost-effective siding materials. Wooden shingles for exterior cladding were cheaper than milled siding in those days, and installing plate glass windows was cheaper than building a framed wall.

Wood shingled exterior, brick porch piers and a heavily timbered front porch gable all are hallmarks of a Bungalow style home

Bricks, not tiles, were frequently used for fireplace facings, and the bricks used for exterior chimneys and porch piers often included ‘clinker’ bricks, the rustic, attractively misshapen bricks that, in Victorian times, had been rejected as defective at the brickyards. The Arts & Crafts designers, being admirers of ‘natural’ building materials, thought clinker bricks were suitably rustic, and worked them into the overall design of the Arts & Crafts home.

River rocks or ‘cobbles’ were used to build this home. The porch piers, foundation walls and chimney are all built of river rocks. The stucco is a later addition.

Other material choices for exterior chimneys and porch piers included river rock or ‘cobbles’ and stucco. Stucco was sometimes used in Bungalow houses, but it was usually used in gables, and in a type called ‘rough-cast’, which was left in its natural grey colour.

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