What it is: Unlike more loosey-goosey design fashions, Arts and Crafts operates within a well-defined pair of parameters — and also for a well-defined reason. The Arts and Crafts movement took off around the turn of the 20th century for a backlash against the fussy, overwrought style of the Victorian era. It rejected the factory-produced furnishings and decorative accents that prevailed at the time, embracing rather natural beauty and traditional craftsmanship. Artisans like Gustav Stickley (who coined the term Craftsman, occasionally used for this style) and William Morris were seminal in establishing the Arts and Crafts code, plus it characterizes much of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s work.

Why it works: Arts and Crafts style is driven not only by clear design guidelines but by an entire canon of beliefs. It’s a refreshing honesty and innocence of soul. Arts and Crafts interiors are filled with heart and stability, a holistic reflection of the ideals that gave rise to the style in the first location.

You’ll enjoy it if … You have ever made a pilgrimage into the Gamble House. You think nature is the best designer of all time. You’re more comfy at hand-knit sweaters than in sequined scoop necks. You spent your honeymoon camping. You state homemade gifts are the best type — and you mean it.

More ‘So Your Design Is’:
Conventional | Hollywood Regency | Art Deco | Rustic | Old World | Cottage | French Country
Transitional | Contemporary | Midcentury Modern | Industrial | Eclectic | Coastal | Preppy

Wayne Windham Architect, P.A.

Design Secret: Well-Crafted Woodwork

Just put: You can not have Arts and Crafts style without wood. It is most likely the single most important element, and it largely informs the emphasis on organic, organic beauty that defines this decorating approach. You’ll probably never see painted wood at an Arts and Crafts interior — rather, the focus is on rich spots that conserve and exhibit the natural beauty of the grain. Oak is the iconic wood of the style, but pine, maple and other native species also appear.

Look closer: Arts and Crafts woodworking isn’t only about the substance; it’s also about putting the handiwork on display. In this foyer and living area, you may clearly see the joinery and the meticulous detailing at the paneling, stairways and trimming. The stain amplifies, instead of hides, the natural variations in the wood.

HartmanBaldwin Design/Build

Style Secret: Colors From Nature

The basic Arts and Crafts palette chooses its subtle, muted beauty directly from the organic world: stone, bark, leaves, grasses. Though you do not need to restrict yourself to glow and greens, any colors that are less obviously organic — like blue — should be dusty or dirty. Here is one fail-safe way to approach it : Study the flora and foliage that grow in your home and neighborhood, then translate those colours to your inside.

Look closer: The warm, vibrant colours in this space meld together as beautifully as they would from the outside. Although you won’t always see colors in Arts and Crafts interiors that are as clear and bright as the yellow on the walls, this one works because it equally blends together and enlivens the woodwork, upholstery and art-glass window. It is bright and light without even entering pastel territory — that would be a Arts and Crafts no-no.

Christian Gladu Design

Design Secret: Functional Furnishings

Arts and Crafts style is just as far from frothy Victorian sofas and ornately carved case goods as it’s likely to go. On the contrary, it embraces sturdy, unadorned, comfortable furnishings that are designed to last and are as much about function as form. What they lack in ornamentation, they make up for in the attention to detail and materials. Although the offerings on the market today aren’t necessarily handmade, as wasde rigeur previously, choose ones that look as though they could be.

Look closer: Most Arts and Crafts-style furniture is thick on the wood, but that does not mean you’re doomed to a aching spine from hard seat chairs. Simple leather, linen or cotton upholstery, as in this living space, makes for a softer landing and feels appropriate to the design.

Dorothy Howard AIA, Architect

Design Secret: Natural Floors

Carpet? So century. Arts and Crafts floors falls right into step with the natural decorative: hardwood (planks or parquet), slate. Tile with a Arts and Crafts glaze, a particularly implemented matte finish that lends tremendous thickness, works superbly in a grid. Cork is a superb choice as well.

It almost goes without saying that you don’t want to conceal these substances under too many carpets, but if you do bring flooring coverings in, keep them accurate to the color scheme, pick a natural weave and do not get overly ornate with the pattern.

Look closer: Avoid flooring that looks overly uniform, edgy or mass produced (this isn’t the opportunity to put vinyl tiles or experiment with concrete). The background in this entry bears striking variations in color that reveal nature’s hand at work, and each slice has a one-of-a-kind pattern that no machine could replicate.

RTA Studio Residential Architects

Style Secret: Hand-Painted Details

With the Arts and Crafts emphasis on the handmade, stenciled and hand-painted details grew popular as an reply to the manufactured, mass-market wallpapers and other cosmetic treatments of the Victorian era. Simplicity is the key — keep these rolls nominal to avoid visual clutter, which goes contrary to the aesthetic. Much like the palette throughout, motifs and colours with ties to the natural world always feel appropriate.

Look closer: It is not only about the visuals — it’s about the message. The words painted inside this stairwell speak into the idea of peace, amity and warmth that goes hand in hand with Arts and Crafts style. Whether you are inscribing a popular saying or stenciling a leaf pattern, then be sure the connotations feel as apt as the cosmetic flourish.

David Whitney

Style Secret: Mica and Tiffany Lighting

Arts and Crafts puts less emphasis on accessorizing than some styles, and cosmetic flotsam is minimal. That means lighting, as one of the only accents, needs to pop up. Both mica and Tiffany (or Tiffany-inspired) glass lamps and fixtures fit the bill: mica for its organic texture and rich glow; Tiffany glass for the proud way it wears its craftsmanship. Though those two lighting fashions are crafts and crafts icons, you could get away with lighting that checks the other boxes (warm-tone alloys; blank lines; easy, geometric forms).

Look closer: In keeping with the pragmatic lines and absence of curves that define the Arts and Crafts look, fixtures generally have sterile, squarish or angular profiles. Here, the pendant complements the horizontal and vertical planes of the breakfast corner, however its sloping sides divide the tension and stop a static feel.

Morava Glass Studio

Design Secret: Art Glass

Jewellike within their detail, stained and leaded glass windows and doors are common among Arts and Crafts homes. They comprise linear, geometric patterns or motifs that call to mind parts of the natural world.

Look closer: Glass panes like these are among the only cases in Arts and Crafts style in which form and function have equivalent weight. Nevertheless, the windows above do not sacrifice outdoor views in favor of vases — the outside space beyond stays clearly visible.

Noel Cross+Architects

Style Secret: Warm Metals

Chrome and steel look out of place with this particular style as flip-flops using a cocktail gown. Bronze, brass and copper with oil-rubbed, antique or patinated finishes complement the signature wood tones and boost the general feel of warmth. Metals often are hammered or desperate at a nod to craftsmanship.

Look closer: The oil-rubbed bronze on the fixtures here not only picks up the warmth of the woodwork and stone but also grounds and provides definition to the distance. Although the lighting might not be strictly classic Arts and Crafts, its powerful, boxy shape and simplicity match the texture.

Photos: Get more Arts and Crafts home design ideas

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