Craftsman Architecture Exposed

In the early 20th Century Californians began to value hand crafts over machine-made, stained rather than painted wood and the ideal that "nothing is beautiful that is also not functional". Likely born of the larger Arts & Crafts movement (with English roots), the Craftsman style simplified house forms and ornamentation considerably from their ornate Victorian predecessors with the idea to "modernize" architecture. 

With the advent of the Sears do-it-yourself home building kits, this ideal was epitomized in the Craftsman bungalow, typically a one to two story home with gently pitched broad gables with one large gable covering the main home and a second lower gable covering a wide and often deep front porch with wide staircase approach and tapering porch pillars. Notably, exposed rafters peak out from under the roof, large, false braces are under the roof line making these homes look like they are 'squatting'. Natural looking materials and earthy colors, stonework and rough-hewn wood & stucco surfaces emphasize an earthy look.

The interior space of these homes eliminated hallways to create open floor plans with dark stained natural grained woodwork throughout. Often furniture in a Craftsman home was closely tied to the "mission" style. Interior pillared bookshelves and vertically slatted windows emphasized the lines of interior rooms to compliment rough hewn wood beamed ceilings. Wood room dividers with shelving, cabinetry and pillars often divided living and dining rooms promoting the open concept. The Craftsman often integrated the home with its natural surroundings due to California's mild climate and abundance of natural building materials.

Bernard Maybeck  Photo Credit

Bernard Maybeck Photo Credit

Considered the father of the Craftsman, Bernard Maybeck, an Eastern architect arrived in San Francisco in the 1890's and by 1894 was practicing privately in Berkeley and teaching at the University of California in Berkeley. His work drew upon stylistic and regional inspirations using shingles and stained wood. He was a mentor to our nation's first prominent female architect, Julia Morgan - whose Craftsman homes dot the Bay area.

Julia Morgan   Photo Credit

Julia Morgan Photo Credit

Over her 46 year career, Morgan designed nearly 800 homes, schools, churches, women's clubs and other small institutional buildings throughout California and the West, but primarily in the San Francisco Bay area. She is credited for building what remains a quintessential California Bay area style idea of building with the landscape, using wood for both interior and exterior finishes, incorporating numerous windows, courtyards, porches and large spaces for an open, natural, informal feel.

Charles and Henry Greene  Photo Credit

Charles and Henry Greene Photo Credit

While Maybeck is considered the father of Craftsman architecture, it is 2 architects, brothers Charles and Henry Green who designed dozens of landmark Craftsman homes from 1900-1910. Their Craftsman designs spread all over the US and beyond in magazines and plan books spreading the design style. While predominately middle-class homes, they ranged from high-style masterpieces to small working class bungalows. Bungalows were not however necessarily a small house. Most were average size and smaller than the huge Queen Anne Victorians that were falling out of vogue after the 1906 earthquake; and they were affordable - supplying the growing demand of the rapidly-growing middle class.

You will find many original and tastefully updated Craftsman homes dotting the communities of the East Bay. Patty Rogers is known for finding and selling unique homes in the East Bay that have a "Modicum of Charm". For next level real estate leadership, connect with Patty for your home listing or purchase.