I’ve always been partial to the simple lines and classic beauty of the American Arts and Crafts aesthetic whether it’s architecture, furniture or other elements in and around the home.
The beauty of this style is in the attention to small, natural details beautifully executed. HGTV’s Chantel Simmons‘ post about Arts and Crafts as a design style provides just the right amount of introduction. Look for more stories about this style in future posts on Spin It Up Local, but for now, please enjoy Chantel’s post.
Design Style: Arts and Crafts
Handmade, woodworked, organic and natural, Arts and Crafts decor creates a look of simplicity, functionality and quality in any room of your home.
Based on the concept of handcrafted goods, Arts and Crafts decor centres around rectilinear style (items that consist of straight lines). Most typical examples of Arts and Crafts include large wooden furniture pieces, such as dining and coffee tables, cabinets, couches and chairs, but also includes textiles, wall and floor coverings, lamps and accent pieces that can transform a space into a luxe living area or a cozy, comfortable escape.
A Brief History
Arts and Crafts emerged as an aesthetics movement in late 19th century England. As a result of the Industrial Revolution, many “arts” and “crafts” jobs, such as carpenters, carvers and glassworkers, became obsolete, and these craftspeople’s skills became simply hobbies. Inspired by social reform thinkers, and spearheaded by British designer William Morris (whose textiles, wall hangings and wallpaper designs are still available and popular today), the Arts and Crafts movement evolved as a way to preserve the high-quality craftsmanship of these arts and crafts workers, by enabling them to create products “for the people and by the people.” Because early manufactured goods were mass-produced, they were often poorly designed and constructed; in comparison, Arts and Crafts became a celebration of beautiful objects that displayed fine craftsmanship and attention to detail.
By the early 20th century, Arts and Crafts style traversed the Atlantic to North America, and became known as Mission style decor. Today, Arts and Crafts and Mission style are often used interchangeably; however, while both terms reflect a style of woodworked furniture, Arts and Crafts also refers to lighting, stained glass, pottery, wall and floor coverings and textiles, while Mission style has become a blending of Arts and Crafts types of furniture with Hispanic, Native American and American Southwest design influences.
How to Get the Look
To create an Arts and Crafts theme in your home, start with main pieces of furniture. Look for handmade, simple solid wood tables made of oak, maple or light cherry wood. Tables often have square spindle legs and tops may contain a glass insert but should have at least one drawer (perfect for storing placemats, coasters or board games). Couches and chairs typically have wooden frames (including backs and arms) with solid-colour cushions to create a contrast with the light wood, and can be accessorized with patterned throw cushions in lighter shades (such as cream with a leaf, floral or fruit motif). Instead of wood handles and knobs, opt for handcrafted hardware on cabinets, drawers and doors in wrought iron, bronze, or brushed aluminum.
When painting walls, channel an autumn forest (deep reds, burnt oranges and yellows, mossy greens and chocolate browns). Create facing accent walls with textured paint in two different shades (so that a final room would have three wall colours). Alternatively, William Morris-style wallpaper or wallhangings can create texture and add a cozier feeling to a large room.
Window treatments often include wood slats, California shutters or Roman shades. For more traditional drapery, opt for diaphanous sheers paired with heavier, solid-colored drapes and simple tie-backs in fabric or with textile tassels that coordinate with wallpaper or rugs.
Because the rich walls and wood furniture may make your room appear darker, good lighting is essential. Look for table and floor lamps with wood posts and bases, then lighten up with soldered or stained glass shades. For mantels or walls, choose hammered metal or wrought-iron for variety.
When accessorizing, minimalism is key (so look for unique items that use only one or two materials), but have fun! Scour garage sales for 19th-century style items such as stained glass or ceramic tile plates, pottery, copper clocks, bronze statues or wrought-iron candleholders.