The Arts and Crafts interior design movement had an organic, wholesome and serene appeal. It brought back natural beauty and traditional craftsmanship into interior design – which was lost during the abundance of factory-produced furnishings, and the fussy and overwrought style of the Victorian era.
This design movement originated in England during the last half of the 19th century, as a backlash against the loss of quality and individuality of the Victorian style. It became popular in America, where people have been looking for simpler and more functional homes. Artisans such as Britain’s William Morris and America’s Gustav Stickley have been the most influential in establishing the Arts and Crafts code. Stickley coined the term “Craftsman,” which was sometimes used to describe the style.
The Arts and Crafts interior design brought back the spotlight to hand-made, functional craftsmanship, and to the use of simple and organic materials. Quality and simplicity became superior to Victorian style’s image of luxury, visual overload and over-the-top accessorizing. If you want to adapt this interior decorating style for your own home, follow these guidelines:
1. Showcase well-crafted woodwork
Arts and Crafts style won’t be called Arts and Crafts without woodwork. It’s the primary element that defines this particular design style. Show off wood’s natural and organic beauty on your foyer, stairways, trim, paneling, cabinetry and flooring, while also displaying the meticulous handiwork made by your artisan. And since Arts and Crafts focuses on the natural, don’t paint the wood. Instead, use stains to preserve the wood and to showcase its unique grains. Oak is the common wood choice for this style, but you can also use native wood species like pine and maple.
2. Embrace earthy organic colors
For your color palette, choose subtle and rich earthy hues like warm brown, mossy greens, amber, terra cotta and mustard. Draw inspiration from the colors of wood, bark, rocks, stones, grasses and foliage. But you don’t have to limit your choices to brown and greens – you can also use blue as long as it’s a dusty or dirty hue. Some yellows can also complement this style. For walls, you may use richly patterned wallpaper with themes and colors inspired by nature. Avoid choosing bright and vibrant colors, as well as soft pastels.
3. Use sturdy and functional furniture
Arts and Crafts furniture is far from the ornately carved and heavily embellished furnishings of the Victorian style. Instead, it focuses on the use of superior material for durability; and clean, simple lines to give more importance to function. These furniture are unadorned and comfortable, but still gives attention to detail. Because genuine Arts and Crafts furniture are sturdy and made to last for generations, they are typically heavy. If you can’t find durable pieces that are truly handmade, you can choose ones that look like as though they could be.
4. Install stained and leaded glass windows
The windows are where the Arts and Crafts style pay attention to embellishments. Jewel-like stained and leaded glass windows or doors are commonly used in Arts and Crafts interiors. The glass windows typically feature linear and geometric patterns that are still related to nature. However, these details shouldn’t block outdoor views – the windows should still show what’s outside.
5. Use natural materials for flooring
Arts and Crafts flooring only makes use of – guess what – natural materials. Hardwood planks or parquet are the most common options, but it also uses stone, slate, tiles or cork. Those that feature one-of-a-kind patterns are preferred, and those that looks too edgy, uniform or mass-produced are avoided. If you want to use floor coverings, don’t use carpets (that’s too Victorian) – use rugs with natural weave or one-of-a-kind pattern that doesn’t look machine-made.
6. Add warm metal accents
To complement the warm vibe of the Arts and Crafts interior, add bronze, brass and copper accents. Use it for your lamps, sconces, accent chairs, and accessories. Prefer oil-rubbed, antique or pieces with patina over brand-new items. Avoid chrome and steel accents – they look too cold for this style.
7. Decorate with beautifully crafted lamps
Besides light fixtures made of warm metals, Arts and Crafts homes prefer mica and Tiffany lamp fixtures. Since the overall décor is simple, lamps and lights are your primary opportunity to accessorize. Mica light has a warm, rich and organic feel; while Tiffany glass is known for its details and craftsmanship – both which are elements important to Arts and Crafts.
8. Add minimal hand-painted details
Since Arts and Crafts décor puts emphasis on the handmade, you can incorporate hand-painted details on your plain walls. Opt for stenciled and hand-painted quotes or patterns that are simple, and sparks the feeling of peace and warmth.