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A Big Tent

by Patricia Poore on October 12, 2016

in Editor's Letter

ed-photo-winterThe bungalow revival has threatened a takeover of Arts & Crafts in general, but not every Arts & Crafts house is a bungalow. (And not every bungalow is Arts & Crafts. House forms, like bungalow or foursquare, and stylistic elements, like Craftsman or Italianate, are not in lockstep.) In this issue we extend the timeline in both directions, showcasing a startlingly vernacular house designed by Ernest Gimson in England, as well as a remade 1940s Texas Ranch. Bungalows, they ain’t.

We can’t define Arts & Crafts style; there are too many expressions and variants. Yet significant threads run through all the work we recognize as Arts & Crafts. At first encounter, designs by William Morris and Gustav Stickley are very different. We come to see in their work the underlying philosophy; both men preferred simplicity, dug at the local roots, adapted natural forms for two-dimensional ornament, embraced the past without creating replicas, appreciated craftsmanship. The philosophy behind Arts & Crafts explores the pleasure of good work—indeed the need to do work with competence and pride, and it explores our relationship with the land. None of these ideas has ever really been out of favor.

In architecture, we can easily imagine the California Ranch as a later generation’s evolution of the Craftsman Bungalow. Both belong to the modern age, both are family-centric, both types merge house with its site. In design, look no further than the perennial appeal of Morris’s textile and wallpaper patterns, in production for 150 years and befitting historic and contemporary rooms alike.

And so back to this issue, with its lovely feature on the restoration of an American Arts & Crafts Bungalow…and another that presents an eccentric house built of massive stones and with an almost primitive whitewashed interior. And then there is the brick Ranch, which seemed bereft of any style until it was redeemed by sensitive owners who took cues from its Spanish antecedents and postwar construction. In my book, all are expressions of Arts & Crafts.

Patricia Poore
Patricia Poore, Editor
10 Harbor Rd., Gloucester, MA 01930

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