Guide: What is Craftsman Interior Design?

Craftsman house interiors, known for their emphasis on simplicity, quality materials, and a connection to nature, have been a cornerstone of American architecture and design for over a century, but what is craftsman interior design in practice and how can you recreate it at home? Read on to find out.

12 April 2024

Craftsman house interior design pays homage to the makers over the machines.

It celebrates craftsmanship and the inherent beauty of natural materials. With its focus on handcrafted woodwork, built-in furniture, and earthy colour palettes, craftsman interior decor creates warm, inviting spaces that are timeless and deeply personal.

This design style – a reaction to the overly ornate, mass-produced creations of the Victorian age – is not just a nod to nostalgia but a testament to the enduring appeal of thoughtful and intentional design.

So if you favour artisan craftsmanship over mass produced flat-pack, craftsman interior design may be just what you’re looking for.

A Short History of Craftsman Interior Design

Art critic John Ruskin (Credit: duncan1890 via Getty Images)

Originating out of the British arts and crafts movement in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries – itself inspired by the writings of art critics like John Ruskin and textile designers like William Morris – craftsman house interiors were a reflection of a broader cultural shift towards valuing handcrafted quality over same old, same old.

The design philosophy was popularised in the early 1900s by Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman magazine, architects Charles and Henry Greene who pioneered the California Bungalow style with their famous Gamble House, and Frank Lloyd Wright who was an early exponent of prairie-style architecture.

Stickley published a book in 1909 called Craftsman Homes, perfectly encapsulating the essence of craftsman interior design and architecture. He referred to ‘the simplicity of life’ and ‘plain houses that will last for generations and need but few repairs.’

Craftsman-style homes began to pop-up all over the US thanks to their functional designs, easy maintenance, and practicality, and it wasn’t long before the central tenets of craftsman house interior design became popular elsewhere.

The style has evolved, incorporating influences from other contemporary design movements, but it’s always remained true to its original principles.

What is Craftsman Interior Design: The Key Principles

Craftsman-style interior design (Credit: Jon Lovette via Getty Images)

The principles of craftsman interior decor are characterised by a combination of functionality, quality, and beauty, including built-in storage, hand-hewn woodwork, earthy tones and design motifs ranging from geometric patterns to stained glass and hand-painted tiles.

The style’s emphasis on craftsmanship and quality not only ensures that each space is unique but also imbues it with a sense of integrity and purpose.

Natural Materials

Craftsman-style kitchen area (Credit: Goodboy Picture Company via Getty Images)

Craftsman house interiors prioritise the use of natural materials such as wood, stone, and glass. These materials are chosen for their intrinsic beauty, durability, and ability to bring a sense of warmth and authenticity into the space. The emphasis on materials in their most organic form celebrates the connection between the indoors and the natural world outside.

Colour Palette

Classic Craftsman colours (Credit: clu via Getty Images)

The colour palette is inspired by nature, featuring earth tones, soft greens, blues, and rich wood stains. The colours of craftsman house interior design work together to create a harmonious and soothing environment that complements the natural materials used throughout the space. The use of muted and warm tones make for a cosy and inviting atmosphere.

Comfort & Functionality

Craftsman-style built-in storage (Credit: aire images via Getty Images)

Within craftsman interiors, every element of the space is designed with comfort and functionality in mind. The hallmarks of craftsman interior design include open floor plans, built-in storage, and simple, sturdy seating. These features not only enhance the usability of the space but also contribute to its aesthetic appeal by emphasising simplicity and practicality.


Furniture in the Craftsman style (Credit: Nathan Bilow via Getty Images)

Craftsman-style furniture is characterised by solid construction, simple lines, and lack of ornamentation. Often made from wood, these pieces are designed to be functional and durable, with a focus on quality craftsmanship. The furniture’s straightforward design reflects the overall aesthetic of craftsman house interiors, prioritising utility while still being visually appealing.

Artisan & Handcrafted Pieces

Handcrafted tiles are a feature of Craftsman homes (Credit: Ilias Katsouras jr via Getty Images)

Artistic pieces and handcrafted elements feature very prominently in the craftsman interior design aesthetic, reflecting the movement’s emphasis on individual craftsmanship. Stained glass, handcrafted tiles, and bespoke metalwork add unique touches to the space, embodying artisanal skills and creativity.

Bringing Nature Indoors

Incredible use of natural light (Credit: Ivan Hunter via Getty Images)

Craftsman house interiors often incorporate motifs and elements inspired by the natural world. This can include stylised floral patterns, the use of natural light, and the liberal use of plants and water features. These elements help to blur the lines between indoors and out, creating an integration with nature.

Inherent Beauty

Rustic, Craftsman-style interior (Credit: Goodboy Picture Company via Getty Images)

The aesthetic joy of craftsman interior decor lies in its simplicity, harmony, and attention to detail. Every aspect of the design, from the structure of the space to the choice of furnishings, is considered with an eye towards creating a visually cohesive and beautiful environment.

Hand-Made Heaven: Craftsman Interior Design

Stunning natural hallway (Credit: Liesl Clark via Getty Images)

There are many diverse answers to the question ‘what is craftsman interior design,’ but its essence lies in its simplicity, quality, and the connection to the outside world. Rooted in the arts and crafts movement, craftsman house interiors advocates for the beauty of handcrafted elements, the warmth of natural materials, and the importance of functional, comfortable living spaces.


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