Arts & Crafts Houses Part II:Arts & Crafts Interiors

What did the interiors of original Arts & Crafts homes really look like?

We have several original photographs of interiors from Bungalow and Arts & Crafts homes in this article, with captions explaining the design details found in them.

One has to remember that many people moving in to their cozy, new Arts & crafts houses had all their old Victorian furnishings from their old houses.

Cartoon – Bungalow Magazine 1913. For home builders, nothing much has changed over the years!

Few people were able to afford to purchase all new furnishings for their new house. Some people were unable to fully make the adjustment of the demands of these stylish, new homes, and they slowly reverted back to the familiar manner of furnishing that they were used to in their old home, swagging their curtains, scattering lace anti-maccassars onto their tufted furniture, and wondering somehow why it did not look right…

The revival of Arts & Crafts styling has gone on longer than the original movement in North America that only lasted from 1900 to 1920 or so.

As explained in the previous article, the smaller, cozy, artistic bungalows were a great design departure on city streets for those people used to vertical, Victorian houses trimmed with fancy millwork and turned porch posts. It is difficult to imagine just how radical these new houses looked to the citizens of the day.

The interiors of these homes also were changed dramatically from homes built just a decade before. In the 1890’s, interiors were full of gilt and velvet, peacock feathers in jars, and mosaic floors. Cornices and plasterwork and stained glass dominated interiors, along with Turkish corners, and tufted furniture that was scattered across the heavily patterned carpets throughout the house.

In the new, smaller bungalows, unnecessary decoration was stripped away. Materials were supposed to be honest. That is, oak was supposed to look like oak, and be proudly displayed in all its true character. Curtains became simpler, being made of linen or cotton. Carpets were inspired by ‘natural’ designs – often in geometric Navaho designs or traditional Persian designs – instead of the overwrought roses and ribbons of Victorian rooms.

A living room from 1913. Navaho carpets add warmth to the floor.

Living spaces flowed from one room to another in the new homes, aided by the pillared colonnades between rooms, making the smaller spaces appear bigger than they actually were.

The trick of Arts & Crafts interiors was simplicity in all things. Built-in furniture was standard in the new houses, requiring less furniture in each room. Closets, window seats, built-in sideboards and bookcases all eliminated the need for extra furniture.

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