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Craftsman Architecture in SoCal | A Staple of The Arts & Crafts Movement

Nott & Associates Design & Build firm expert in historic home remodel, kitchen upgrades, and ADU construction serving Pasadena, South Pasadena, La Canada, San Marino, and surrounding areas.
Restored Craftsman Bungalow

Craftsman Homes & Bungalows in SoCal | A Staple of The Arts & Crafts Movement

By Jeff Nott | January 12th, 2024

The Pasadena area is a treasure trove of numerous fine Craftsman and Bungalow style homes. After you see enough Craftsman homes you begin to appreciate and perhaps fall in love with the simplicity, efficiency and the details of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Craftsman Architecture in Southern California

Craftsman architecture was developing in the United States at the turn of the 19th century. In Southern California, the Craftsman movement evolved quite differently in many respects. These unique differences, details, and styles make Craftsman Architecture special to us here in Southern California.

The Arts and Crafts Movement Origins

The Arts and Crafts movement began in England with the prolific writings of John Ruskin and William Morris who stressed the virtues of hand-made goods as opposed to the machine-made goods of the industrial revolution. Gustav Stickley in New York was one of the first Americans to adopt the philosophy of the Arts and Crafts movement, shunning the Victorian and Classical style in favor of simple unadorned handmade basic structural forms.

Notable Artisans in Pasadena

In the Pasadena area, the Arts and Crafts style was being adopted by several local artisans, including Ernest Batchelder the tile maker and designer, Highland Park’s Arroyo Guild, and the architectural firm Greene and Greene that opened their offices in Pasadena in 1894.

Charles and Henry Greene – Heart and Soul of the Craftsman Movement

The work of Charles and Henry Greene has come to represent the heart and soul of the Craftsman movement with its simplicity and meticulous attention to materials and detail. The historic Gamble House featured rooms on the first floor that opened onto a terrace, celebrating Southern California’s temperate climate.

Japanese Influence on Craftsman Architecture

Charles Greene, the prime designer in the firm, was said to be under the spell of Japan. The Asian influence can be seen in the corbelled bracing design of the Blacker House which was common in many Japanese temples.

The Bungalow Movement

The cost of the Craftsman home led to the evolution of a more modest design referred to as the Bungalow. The term Bungalow evolved from an East Indian hut called a Bangala. In America, the bungalow came to represent an affordable, practical, fashionable home greatly influenced by the Arts and Crafts Movement.

Features of a Bungalow

The typical Bungalow floor plan started with a generous front porch which could act as outdoor seating area. The front door opened to a living room with a fireplace located along an exterior wall.

Variations in Bungalow Styles

Although there was considerable variation in the style, particularly in Southern California influenced by the Mission style in the San Gabriel Valley, the roofs had lower slopes with strong horizontal lines. Large entry porches sometimes extending across the entire width of the house were an endorsement of outdoor California living.

Influences on Bungalow Designs

It is difficult to say who was responsible as the major influences in designing the multitudes of bungalows across America. Plans were marketed by the use of books whose complete plans were sold by numerous sources such as Sears and Roebuck and Montgomery Ward for as little as ten dollars.

Kit Homes Innovation

An innovation arising from the plan book was what became known as “Kit Homes”. These “Kit Homes” were complete packages of carefully labeled house parts, allowing handy homeowners to build their own houses for as little as $1500 ordered by mail.

Architectural Diversity in Bungalow Designs

There was no uniformity of style in the plan books that spanned the gamut of architectural influences from Victorian to Classical. The house on your block might be a significant copy of a famous architect’s work. Next time you stroll down the historic streets of Pasadena, don’t forget to appreciate the beauty and the history of the homes amongst you.

Explore Design and Build Firms and Architects in Your Area

If you are interested in exploring design and build firms or architects in Southern California, San Marino, La Canada, or Pasadena, consider the rich history and diverse architectural influences that have shaped the beautiful homes in these regions. We at Nott & Associates are experts in the California craftsman style and have been building and remodeling these historic homes for over 40 years.

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