Sunday, May 27, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
One of the most troubling aspects of architecture and real estate is the misuse of terms as they apply to the architectural style of a building, and how that misuse leads to poor communication between clients and professionals. Here’s an in-depth look at what defines the “American Craftsman:”
The Craftsman, or “Arts and Crafts” style began in Britain as a response to the relentless grandiose nature of the Victorian era which was consumed with all things ornate. Victorian architecture had evolved primarily into applied bays, peaks, and other features onto a basic architectural box, with all of these elements tied together with fanciful detail elements that had little to do with the structure underneath them.
It was a movement based on truth in materials and a construction method that celebrated the designers and craftsmen who built them by exposing their structure as an architectural design element. Craftsmen homes would typically be represented by natural materials such as wood and stone that were not painted over or applied as simple veneers, and intentionally used multiple combinations of materials in order to both break up the design of the building and highlight more expensive materials by using them in targeted areas.
The movement has seen a strong recent revival based on its historical adaptability with local materials and construction methods within any given region. Though current sustainability practices make heavy timbers a less responsible choice, and stone is more likely to be a veneer than a structural system, the style can still be considered truthful to its roots through calculated exposure of materials and by taking advantage of inherent design features such as extended overhangs for solar shading benefits. The style is adaptable in form and materials, low pitch roofs and mission style detailing in the desert west and California, shaker inspired carpentry in the northeast, and heavier use of bricks and screened porches across the Southeast.
At its heart, the American Craftsman is a complete rejection of Victorian ideology. To be truly craftsman, a building must tell the story of how it is built through its design, not merely use vernacular materials.
When painting inside your house, use a low sheen paint such as an eggshell or satin finish for most walls, and flat paint for the ceiling. You can then use a semi-gloss for your molding and trim to make it stand out with a richer look.