In the first few years of the 20th century, the architectural firm of Greene and Greene, steeped in the Art & Crafts movement and influenced by existing California board and shingle buildings, designed what would later be known as the quintessential Craftsman-style architecture.
The Craftsman style is defined by its low-pitched gabled roofs with broad eaves, large front porches, and exposed wooden structural elements. Houses were typically 1-1½ stories and of wood construction. Homes designed by Greene & Greene include the spectacular Gamble House.
What most distinguished the Craftsman home was its philosophical foundation that was predicated on a more functional aesthetic, natural materials, and a greater degree of craftsmanship, which Art & Crafts proponents believed to be missing from the more ornate or traditional styles of the period. Arts and Crafts architects and designers believed that a return to a simpler, less pretentious style would lead to a healthier, more comfortable and productive life.
The Craftsman bungalow adapted the large porch and practical floor plan seen in earlier homes built by British colonists in India. The style proved incredibly popular and the bungalow style evolved into a simpler version for the broader market as building plan books and pre-cut home kits became available.
As a result, almost all Craftsman houses are bungalows, but not all bungalows are Craftsman style. The Craftsman style is distinguished by its many fine details and excellent workmanship.
The typical Craftsman home usually has the following features:
- Low-pitched roof
- Deep eaves with exposed rafters
- 1–1½ stories
- Built-in cabinetry
- Large fireplace, often with built-in cabinetry on either side
- Large, covered front porches with massive, battered columns
- Windows were typically double-hung with multiple lights in the upper window and a single pane in the lower