Building a Craftsan Style Home--List of Interior Features?

OyinSeptember 6, 2012


My husband and I are in the very early stages of building a home on a couple acres I inherited here in Michigan. It will be a large home, about 6,000 sq ft. two-story with a walk-out basement to accommodate the extended family that will be living with us (seven people in all!).

I know it's a style traditionally used in smaller homes but I think the style's charm would make a large home, which we need but I personally don't like, more cozy. We found a plan/builder that uses a lot of the exterior Craftsmen features but the interiors of his homes seem modern.

Can anyone with experience with traditional craftsmen homes tell me about some of the interior features that we might add? I don't want a traditional exterior and modern interior--it would ruin the character I hope to have. Thanks!

P.S. He is a picture of what we hope the house to look like, courtesy of e-plans.

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Annie Deighnaugh

I'd suggest looking at craftsman style historic homes on line to get some ideas.

This one for example has a lot of the interior details that were common with that style of home. Lots of oak woodwork, wainscoting, half walls with tapered columns, leaded glass windows, straight, plain lines.

Here's another one.

And you can read about craftsman style.

I used to like the adirondack style as well...they built a lot of "cabins" (meaning mansions) in the adirondacks that made use of lots of wood and style and charm to make for very cozy interiors....though I did have to look past all the bark and antlers which aren't my thing, generally. Well...maybe just a little. Grandma always told me every house needs antlers for good luck.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 8:20AM
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A few things I can think of off the top of my head:

Simple but substantial (beefy) trimwork. For example, 1x8 baseboards with ogee base caps throughout the house. 5/4x6 or 5/4x4 casings around doors and windows. All doorways and entrances to rooms should be cased openings. Many modern versions of craftsman houses have crown and coffered ceilings, which I don't think are historically accurate but which I personally like. You may also consider wainscoting in certain rooms (such as bathrooms, mudrooms, etc.)

Stained wood floors.

Traditional style cabinetry - something along the lines of beaded inset cabinets.

Traditional style lighting fixtures and plumbing fixtures. Forget about vessel sinks and such.

Large wood newels posts (8") with square or rectangular balusters made of wood. In most of the older craftsman homes I've seen, the newel posts and hand rails are stained and the balusters are painted white.

9 foot ceilings, but NO 2 story atriums on entrances.

Traditional wood or brick finished fireplace with simple mantel.

Wood windows with divided lites or simulated divided lites.

Exterior doors with full or 2/3 full lites.

Interior doors made of stain or paint grade wood with 5 panels. In most older homes I've seen, the interior doors were stained and the casings around the doors were either painted or stained. I've also seen plenty of houses with both the interior doors and casing all painted.

Glass door knobs.

As to the picture of the house you provided - I like the exterior wall finishes and the substantial columns of the house, but I would suggest that the level of complexity of the roof line is not historically accurate. The roof line should be much more simple. For example, the three gables in the front of the house over the garage include two false gables (there for decorative purposes primary) which is not the way traditional craftman homes would have been designed. I'd also make sure all porches are at least 8 feet deep and I'd make the garages detached (if you are really interested in appropriate design) (I realize most people like the convenience of attached garages though).

I'm just a rookie with an appreciation for craftsman and bungalow style homes. You should definitely talk to an architect with the appropriate experience with this style. Hope this helps, good luck.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 11:09AM
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"Stained wood floors. "

Stained (originally ammonia fumed) wood trim everything.

Quartsawn oak to produce straight grain.

Floors, trim, wainscot panels.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 12:01PM
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For an investment of this scale you should buy some books on the Craftsman Style (especially Greene & Greene) or hire a qualified architect; large Craftsman designs from internet are generally a haphazard collection of overused builder details. The key to this style is the use of natural materials, bringing the indoors inside, and beautiful woodworking details.

Search the forum to find many examples and good advice about this issue.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 3:40PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions! I will definitely consider them all.

Oh also, Renovator8 I have purchased these books but the interiors of each style of craftsman differed so much I just wanted some real-world comparisons. Thanks a bunch!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 3:51PM
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I find that there is no more misunderstood architecural style than Craftsman because it became wildly popular from being published in many magazines as an "everyman" home and unfortunately it therefore tends to find the lowest common denominator for design sophistication which is ironic because it originated in the midst of great sophistication in California and England. For that reason I avoid it altogether. I find that for a house larger than a "bungalow" you can achieve a better house design emulating the Shingle Style which has missed the degrading influence of overuse. Search for it on the forum.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 7:41PM
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I want to start by wishing you good luck with building what I'm sure will be a lovely house. I offer comments to be helpful, nothing more.

It may be a matter of personal taste, but I find the design too busy and overdone. Just as an example, this view shows 9 column-like structures.

It's asymmetrical with no unifying elements. It seems to have more than 20 different roof planes, and a pop out or pop in everywhere you look, on both stories. It just seems unbalanced and random to me.

I think a simplified appearance would be much more attractive.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 7:51PM
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Built-ins! Lots of window seats, dining room dish storage, bookcases, even a bench along the side of the staircase. And a butler's pantry is a must, if you have the space. Don't forget things like linen cabinets and broom closets, too. Even the everyday necessities look good in craftsman homes :)

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:56PM
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I've seen that plan...If you want something more authentic...I'd check out the bungalow company. He does custom work too. Also I'm a big A&C junkie and I have to admit my favorite flavor is Greene and Greene but I've yet to see any modern house really capture the flavor of what they did. It ends up being a few pieces from each of their ultimate bungalows. If you did decide to go with their style I'd pick a motif and stick with it.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 10:58PM
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Agree that the eplans' elevation is very busy. You can hide larger square footage on a simple elevation by making the house deeper rather than wide. Make the garage side entry and set it back a bit. Since you are on acreage, I'm assuming you don't have neighbors to contend with.

There are many great craftsman bungalows in our area. Some of the features that come to mind: simple but beefy trim, all oak, wainscoating usually in the dining room, stained glass windows, recessed panel doors.

Here's a picture of a craftman kitchen that I have saved:


    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 11:26AM
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A great resource is Arts & Crafts Homes magazine. They put one of my kitchens on the cover of one their early issues so I get an email from them every month.

Here is a link that might be useful: Arts & Crafts Homes

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 11:51AM
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That's a truly gorgeous kitchen. I'm curious if you could give me an approximation for per sq footage costs on building an authentic but not greene and greene style craftsman. I just want to know if we can afford enough house to make it worth it. I don't need a huge house but I would like 2500 sq ft at least with a finished basement. The house I'm currently in love with since it would work in a city or a country lot is 3900 Sq Ft plus a 600 sq ft bonus room. I'm pretty sure I can't afford to build it but...I would like to know. I would do slightly different trim and lighting but I do like it...

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 9:15AM
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Really nice kitchen - what is the material on the counters?

    Bookmark   September 8, 2012 at 9:57AM
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The counters are some kind of travertine. This was a spare no expense house design. The half bath belongs in a museum.

I am not the best person to ask about the cost of building anything. I am an architect not a builder.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 4:29PM
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