The Craftsman house plan has its origins in the Arts and Crafts movement of the late nineteenth century, which was a reaction against the mechanized, mass-produced psychology of the industrial revolution. In America it influenced architecture, landscape design, interior design, and the applied and decorative arts. In both architecture and the decorative arts, the Craftsman style has continued in numerous revivals, as well as restoration projects, to the present day. Its origins are British, but by the 1890’s some of the most influential architects and designers in Boston began to adapt the British design reforms begun by William Morris. The first American Arts and Crafts Exhibition opened at Boston’s Copley Hall in April 1897, with over a thousand objects fashioned by 160 craftsmen and craftswomen. Two months later, The Society of Arts and Crafts was founded to promote artistic works in all handicrafts, and to counteract “the desire for over ornamentation and specious originality.” The movement was an early advocate of the “form follows function” ideal.
In America the Arts and Crafts style embraced locally handcrafted metal, wood, and glass work to create objects which were elegant in their simplicity. In the field of architecture there was a reaction against both the opulence of Victorian architecture, and also the mass-produced housing style. The Arts and Crafts style was for sturdy structures with clean lines, made of natural materials. Craftsman style home plans were defined by their low pitched gable roofs with broad eaves; exposed wood structural elements, and large front porches. The typical Craftsman style house was built of wood and had one or one and a half stories. The distinguishing feature of the Craftsman style was its philosophy that was predicated upon a functional aesthetic; use of natural materials; and a greater appreciation for the craftsmanship which its proponents felt was missing from the ornate traditional styles of the nineteenth century. The Arts and Crafts designers and architects believed that by returning to a simpler and less pretentious style they could foster a healthier, more productive and more comfortable lifestyle.
The Craftsman style bungalow adapted the practical floor plan and large porch typical of British colonial architecture in India. This style proved very popular, and the bungalow house plan was a favorite in building plan books and in pre-cut home kits of the early 20th century. While all Craftsman houses can be considered to be bungalows, not all bungalows are built in the Craftsman style, which is distinguished by excellent workmanship and many fine details. Typically, a Craftsman home has the following features: 1 or 1 1/2 stories tall; a large covered front porch with massive battered columns; a low-pitched roof with exposed rafters and deep eaves; dormers; double-hung windows with a single pane in the lower window and multiple lights in the upper window; decorative knee braces; built-in cabinetry; a large fireplace flanked with built-in cabinetry. Additionally, this style featured many fine details, such as hammered bronze or copper metalwork, and art tiles made by notable art potters such as the Roycrofters.