History of Craftsman Style
The American Craftsman Style arose from British Arts and Crafts Style, a mode that originated in response to the Industrial Revolution. The movement was spearheaded by William Morris, an architect who believed that British buildings were too machine-like and lacked decoration. Craftsman style focused on artisan elements that promoted, rather than degraded, the dignity of human labor. It aimed to reject the unnecessary but preserve the human touch that created it. American architects imported Craftsman styles in the late 19th century and applied it to the multitude of new housing that was being constructed for the growing middle class. The foremost Craftsman architects were Charles and Henry Greene, two brothers who founded the firm Greene and Greene in Pasadena, California. Still today, Greene and Greene have remained a prominent firm for the Craftsman style. Frank Lloyd Wright was also known to incorporate Craftsman elements into his designs.
Craftsman style has elements of artisan handiwork, which provides a contrast to metallic, machine produced buildings and homes. Emphasis is placed on wood and stone work, and the two are often blended to create a rustic feel. Typically, Craftsman houses are painted in dark, earthy tones, and are accompanied by low ceilings. Craftsman homes usually have hanging eaves positioned beneath their gables. Porches are wide and expansive, and are mainly made out of stone. Light fixtures are of an Oriental theme and have rectangular designs on their exterior. Columns, if present, are tapered and relatively short. Windows are not particularly common, but come in smaller square shapes. There is little natural light illuminating the home, and indoor lighting usually has an amber color.
The original house was a contemporary, wooden house that was painted white. The owners decided to rebuild it in 2007 because they wanted to create their own legacy. It is located in the River Run neighborhood in Southeast Boise. The home’s orientation is North to South, with the living quarters on the South end to pick up more sunlight. There is little history behind this building.
The house was constructed in a combination of Craftsman and Northwestern style. Northwestern style originated out of mountain side homes, and includes elements of stone and wood. It is very popular in Sun Valley. The owners designed their house from scratch and wanted to borrow some elements of Craftsman/Northwestern style while making a few modifications of their own. Their house has many wooden eaves, and makes extensive use of both sandstone and mixed stone designs.
Typical Craftsman light fixtures are in place at the entrance, on the patio, and around the garages. Their modifications were varied. The exterior of the house is lighter and more beige than a normal Craftsman house, avoiding a muted display from the exterior. The lower floor has relatively high ceilings (eleven feet), in contrast to the traditional lower ceilings. The architect focused on proportion and scale by adding taller than normal doors (eight feet) to compensate for the ceiling. Due to the large volume of the house, double doors were added throughout the house to fit in with general size. There is little amber lighting within the house, which opposes Craftsman norms.
French doors were added to open on the back yard. Two large sandstone fireplaces were added to the formal lounge and informal living rooms to create a warm feeling. In contrast to darker, traditional Craftsman homes, the house has many windows that aim to let in natural sunlight to avoid a depressing mood.
The house’s neighborhood was constructed in the 1980’s as a brand new development in Southeast Boise. There are varying styles in the neighborhood, including Victorian, Spanish eclectic, contemporary, modern, and shingle. Most of the houses were built in the ‘80s and were periodically renovated when new owners moved in. This house is one of the newest on the block, but does not overshadow its neighbors as the premier house in the cul de sac. The interview and photo session were very informative, as they allowed Nick to examine the details of a house he sees everyday but never truly analyzes.
It was interesting to learn that the owners were big fans of Sun Valley and Ketchum, and that they wanted to bring a “lodge” style appearance to their house, with their own modifications. The most fascinating addition was a substantial Italianate style dog courtyard, where their pets went to do their business. The courtyard certainly isn’t a Craftsman element, but it doesn’t look incongruous with the overall image of the house. Due to the small size of the plot, the owners had to give up backyard space for square footage, and the garden does feel somewhat cramped. However, the house’s interior is spacious, comfortable, and clean. We thoroughly enjoyed the project and the owners were pleased to showcase their home to the community.