When it arose in the early 20th century, the Craftsman style was seen as a reaction to the fussiness that permeated designs in the Victorian era. It eschewed gaudy ornamentation for simplicity but without being boring.
Today, the wholesome simplicity of the Craftsman style has helped make it one of the more popular and enduring choices in kitchen design. Although the true Craftsman style of years past didn’t put as much emphasis on the kitchen compared to today (the quintessential Craftsman home, the Gamble House in California, had an extremely sparse and starkly utilitarian kitchen), you can still infuse your kitchen with these essential Craftsman style elements.
Location had a big impact on Craftsman style architecture as one of its hallmarks was to use natural materials and flow as demanded by the environment on which the house is built. Transferring this philosophy to a modern Craftsman style kitchen means using a lot of rich woods and natural stone.
Wood, more than any other material, truly defines Craftsman style. The style revels in natural beauty; cabinets and other wooden elements are left untouched by paint and are instead stained to accentuate their natural essence. Oak is the most popular choice of wood, although other indigenous species such as maple and pine are also commonly used.
Of course, natural stone materials also figure largely in a modern Craftsman style kitchen. Granite countertops may not be historically accurate (Gamble house has wood countertops), they can balance nicely with the established aesthetic of the style. Soapstone, in particular, works well as a countertop material in a Craftsman style kitchen. Soapstone takes on a darker, charcoal gray color after you treat it with mineral oil, making it fit in perfectly with the style’s largely muted and neutral color scheme.
Muted, earthy color palette
In keeping with the philosophy of a house reflecting its surrounding environment, the Craftsman style tends to lean towards colors pulled straight from nature. Woodsy greens and browns as well as golds and rusty oranges are common hues in a modern Craftsman style kitchen. As mentioned, wood is stained, not painted.
This aesthetic extends somewhat even to the hardware and fixtures used in a Craftsman style kitchen. Shiny finishes are usually nowhere to be seen. Instead, almost all hardware have warm, deep finishes. Antique-looking brass and copper hardware with strong architectural lines are the way to go. Using oil-rubbed bronze and plain soft iron can also add an aged, hand-forged vibe to the space.
Clean cabinetry and simple lighting
Craftsman style cabinetry are decidedly no-frills and made for pure function, sporting clean and simple lines without any detailed carvings or ornamentation. Frameless and flat-panel doors are the norm. That doesn’t mean any old cabinet would do, however. Fine woodworking and craftsmanship are what truly define the Craftsman style, with a marked preference for hardwood over softer wood varieties.
The preference of function over form is also highly evident in the lighting choices in most modern Craftsman style kitchens, although lighting fixtures with strong geometric forms help accentuate the style’s linear style with a little visual flair. Drop, pendant, or simple and angular chandelier lights will look perfectly at home in a Craftsman style kitchen, with Mica pendants and Tiffany lamps being good choices.
The thing to remember about the Craftsman style is that function always trumps form – but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to forget all about the modern creature comforts we’ve come to expect in modern kitchens. With a little imagination and some liberal license when applying the basic and most essential elements of the style, you too can design your own modern Craftsman style kitchen.