Craftsman house plans are an outgrowth of the Arts and Crafts style of the late nineteenth and early twenty centuries. In the aftermath of the Industrial Revolution, architects reacted to the mechanization of life by trying to return to nature. They used wood and stone, and designed homes to blend into the landscape. In the 1880's designers and thinkers such as William Morris, John Ruskin, and Philip Webb launched the Arts and Crafts Movement to celebrate handicrafts and to encourage the use of natural materials and simple forms. In the US the brothers Henry Mather Greene and Charles Sumner Greene designed homes which combined Arts and Crafts ideals with the simple wooden architecture of Japan and China. The word “Craftsman” is derived from the title of a magazine published by designer Gustav Stickley from 1901 through 1916. True Craftsman homes are those built according to designs published in Nopleley's magazine, but other pattern books and mail order catalogs published plans with similar designs . Soon the term “Craftsman” mean any home which expressed the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement, especially the simple and economic bungalow.
Craftsman custom home plans accent simplicity and lack of ornamentation, using local materials whenever possible. Natural materials traditionally played a large role in Craftsman style. These homes take advantage of their sites by being positioned to welcome the sun, and they are often surrounded by gardens. They usually feature a wide front porch supported on stone and framed by thick round or square pillows, which provides an outdoor living space. Exteriors were made of stone, wood, or stucco siding, and roofs were low-pitched with wide eaves and triangular brackets. Exterior stone chimneys are common. Interior floor plans are open, with few hallways, and the efficient use of space allows the display of large art pieces, and also accommodates large gatherings. The walls typically have many windows to provide ample light. Roof rafters are exposed inside and ceilings are beamed, and there may be dark wood moldings and wainscoting. Shelves, cabinets, and seating are usually built-in. Craftsman homes usually feature arts and crafts-style light fixtures, and leded or stained glass windows to provide privacy as well as a play of light.
While Craftsman home design plans most often make people think “bungalow”, there developed different Craftsman styles, including Prairie, Mission, and Foursquare. The Craftsman style is experiencing a revival at present, especially since the current economic downturn. One reason is that new, low-maintenance products such as PVC and composites make it possible to create architectural accents which do not require the maintenance that traditional materials needed. For example, window boxes and functional shutters and brackets are making a comeback, since PVC window boxes resist water and do not rot. PVC is also being used for windows and trim work. The current recession is helping to bring back Craftsman-style attention to detail at an affordable price, since modern home buyers are attracted to the simple, understated elegance and inexpensive maintenance which modern materials can provide.