Arts and Crafts Design Style. Learn the essentials of the Arts and Crafts design.          

Arts and Crafts Style

Picking up on the styles and philosophies of William Morris and Charles Renie Macintosh, the American Arts & Crafts movement offered a total way of life-grounded first and foremost in the design of the home and its furnishings.

The Arts & Crafts ideal stressed simplicity, natural materials like wood and brass, and a return to individual craftsmanship-as opposed to the newly dominant methods of mass production. Ornament in Arts & Crafts pieces is limited, and when present, it is meant to echo the function and construction techniques of the piece.

Arts & Crafts pieces were made between about 1895 to 1915 in the U.S. They are based on heavy, rectilinear forms balanced by exquisite details that serve to visually lighten their lines. Visible tenons connect parts of a chair, and Corbel brackets reinforce joints to create graceful profiles. Open parallel slats abound, and stained glass is a staple of Arts & Crafts lamps and home design, contrasting the stability of wood with the soothing presence of air and light.

Painted Scrolls on Ceiling Beams
Painted scrolls on beams

The charm of painted scrolls on ceiling beams needs no introduction. This decorative accent is a delightful addition to any room. And though beams are common elements in many interiors rarely do one see them used as a focal point for decorative applications. Whether you enjoy the old world charm of Italy, or the contemporary flair of a San Francisco loft space, these tech iques can be adapted to suit the most creative inspiration.


Stencil Brushes

Stencil Brush 432

Stencil Brush Stencil brushes are special brushes with short firm bristles. When used properly they distribute a thin and even layer of paint. This reduces the chance of getting paint under the edge of the stencil. Made in Germany

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arts and crafts design style

Arts & Crafts house plans emphasize integration of the house and its environment, using indigenous materials and open visual and physical passage between interior and exterior. Porches, terraces, and porte-cocheres are key to this merging of house and nature. Floor plans are asymmetrical and open, often blending living rooms, dining rooms and reception areas into a flow of spaces.

American Arts & Crafts was dominated by Gustav Stickley of Upstate New York, Greene & Greene of California, and of course, Frank Lloyd Wright. While Greene & Greene and Wright were heavily influenced by Japanese design, and worked mostly in the high-end market, Stickley and his counterpart Elbert Hubbard tried to bring the earnest 'Craftsman Ideal' to the mass production process. They each designed and manufactured the heavy, slatted oak and leather furniture that now fetches top dollar at auctions. They also published magazines-Hubbard's The Roycrofter and Stickley's The Craftsman: An Illustrated Monthly Magazine in the Interest of Better Art, Better Work, and a Better and More Reasonable Way of Living-featuring bungalow blueprints and other craftwork guides that are still used by devotees of the Craftsman Ideal.

Proportion and scale, along with the interplay between linear movement and the spacious qualities of light play an integral role in creating balance and harmony within the room.

Elements of Arts and Crafts Style

Rustic earth tones

Vibrant, colorful patterns underlie this design style.

Feature tutorial.

The Parchment colorwash. Creating the impression of aged walls, the Parchment finish evokes a feeling of history and old world charm. The color density varies over the finished surface and creates appearances of lightly mottled parchment. A soft and airy finish, the Parchment glaze is an ideal way to create mood and character in any room. I’ve found it to be an ideal solution for finishing irregular or textured wall surfaces.

parchment color wash paint finish

Arts and Crafts Inspirations

arts and crafts wall paperHand painted wall paper adds a custom element.
arts and crafts lightingThis exterior lamp exemplifies the classic Arts and Crafts form.
arts and crafts interiorsMica lamp shade with Tiffany base.
arts and crafts objectsCarved wood features add character to furniture, objects and molding details.
arts and crafts color designHand glazed tiles with rich color and patterns.
arts and crafts postersDesign motifs often pull from other geographic or historic influences.

arts and crafts door styles


As the entrance, and welcoming space of the house, doors and porches played an important role in the Arts & Crafts movement.

Early Arts & Crafts doors were often of plain plank construction, fitted with elaborate hinges and latches, rather than knobs, inspired by medieval forms.

Later in the movement, painted motifs became popular--either freehand or stenciled--and were supported visually by the use of stained glass.

arts and crafts door design

arts and crafts window styles


The importance placed on light and air is reflected in the large window areas of later Arts & Crafts houses. Sash windows were commonly used, often incorporating leaded glass as a key detail. Elongated window proportions exemplified this style and one would commonly see the pairing of an upper sash bearing small rectangular panes with a tall, single-paned lower sash.

arts and crafts window design



Color played an important role in the decorator's approach, and a 3 part division of the wall into dado, field and frieze was almost always employed. Full paneling on walls was used on occasion, and stenciled friezes were also favored. With the design of fine wallpapers, lead by Morris and Company of London and Warren, Fuller and Co. of NY, wallpaper was also an accepted wall covering. Early papers boasted floral and medieval designs while the later period would take on Japanese influences. Tapestry hangings were widely used in late interiors.

Faux Feature

stripping on walls

Painted Stripes

Smart, bold and uplifting, striped walls can quickly transform a modest room into an exciting environment. From elegant and formal to casual and comfortable, the painted stripe offers a variety of design solutions and can be quickly adapted to your interior style. Because of the linear quality of this application rooms tend to feel larger. It works well in entrance foyers, living rooms, dining rooms and bath areas.



In the early period, remaining true to medieval designs was preeminent. Treatments included chamfered beams, designed plaster ceilings, with occasional painting and gilding. Decoration that incorporated painted stenciling was desirable, but as the cost might be prohibitive, ceiling papers, often embossed, became much more common. In the later periods, intricate, prefabricated plaster work was frequently used.

arts and crafts floor styles


Being true to this movement, it was generally considered that only wood or stone was acceptable for floors. Indigenous woods in America were used, oak or maple, most commonly.

Carpets were regularly used, and though authentic Indian, Turkish and Persian carpets were favored, often machine-manufactured carpets were the norm.

arts and crafts furniture


A strong design element of the Arts & Crafts movement was the regular use of built-in furniture. It was practical and minimized the clutter that was common in the Victorian era. A window seat beneath a bay window or a bench and sideboard against a wall in the dining room might be incorporated into the house design, for example.

arts and crafts interior styles


The desire for openness and light stimulated the use of stained-glass in the Arts & Crafts environment. Doors, windows, wall partitions to lamp shades were all treated with this colorful material. With the development of the electric bulb, lighting took on a new meaning within this period. Glass in combination with fine ironwork resulted in innovative ways to accent - as well as provide functional light for - the indoor environment.

arts and crafts interior painting


Stenciled mosaic patterns and hand painted scrolls embellish this Arts & Crafts powder room.

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