Friday, January 22, 2010

Craftsman Clever

Recently I got a question about "Craftsman" interiors. This can go by many different names, and usually they are just variations on a basic architectural style. Bungalow, Arts & Crafts, Stickley, Mission...people use them somewhat interchangeably, although they aren't, really. They do have some distinctions. However, for the purposes of today's post, we'll just say Craftsman. First, a tiny bit of history. (gotta put that degree to good use occasionally.) This movement which started in the mid-1800's with William Morris , among others, was a backlash against new industry and the overly fancy decor of Victorian England. One fear was that hand-crafted and artisan created items would be replaced by impersonal, mass-produced objects. (uh-huh.) There was a return to the organic, nature inspired interiors that eventually evolved into what we know of as the Arts and Crafts movement in America. That was very popular early in the 1900's, developed and promoted by Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustav Stickley, the Greene Brothers (family-friendly bungalows all over California.) While Frank Lloyd Wright's ideas were revolutionary for the time, he did put a huge stamp on Interior Design. (for a bit of insight on Wright as a person, and his controversial lifestyle, Loving Frank: A Novel by Nancy Horan is a good read.)

Now, on to the real post of the day. When handcrafted, stained wood moldings, cabinets and floors are not an option, you can still bring the warmth of Craftsman style into a modern home with a few adjustments. If you can paint a cabinet or built-ins, try a mossy green instead of the standard bright-white trim. Changing hardware, lighting, fabrics, bedding and furniture all can contribute to a cozy Craftsman feel. This style is notoriously family friendly, with warm, organic colors (hide dirt and smudges!), leather finishes (wipe those paw prints right off!) and simple, clean lines (easier to dust!) Choose metal finishes such as copper, bronze and wrought iron.

Lighting is an easy change to make. These are good, decently priced fixtures that would go a long way towards contributing an Arts and Crafts feel. No, there weren't ceiling fans like this in Wright's homes, but none of your friends are going to care.

The bedroom below is a great example for modern inspiration. The furniture is a rustic oak grain in that beautiful warm, honey finish. Although this furniture is great, doing a whole suite of furniture in this style is not necessary. Just pick one, a focal piece that will set the tone of the room, and really emphasize it. The drapery panels here are modern, on a nice wrought-iron rod. The paint finish in the room is warm yet bright. I love the art, both the colors and scale. It really works because it's not competing with patterned fabrics. Someone is probably very comfy in this room. I know I would be.

Choose fabrics that have prints depicting nature - leaves, for example, and are textural and inviting without being overly decorative. Nothing fancy, shiny or silky please. And warm colors. Here's where I contradict myself a bit. California Bungalow style is a lot lighter than Wright's Chicago style, especially in modern renovations. It's really just a matter of climate. So, change the depth of color according to your taste, but the tone of the color (cool vs warm) should be homey, cozy, warm.

I love this bedroom, and it's a really good adaptation of Craftsman style, just modernized. Note the leafy print fabric, the simple oak headboard and uncomplicated bedding. Now, see how there's a clean, modern lamp on that nightstand? It's the right hue, good scale, simple shade. Forget the stained-glass mission style lamp. Clean it up, made it modern and really usable, and you'll like it for a lot longer.

1 comment:

  1. Check out this month's House Beautiful for some modern use of craftsman details in the wallpapers, dining room chair fabric & molding, etc.