The Craftsman style is derived from the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 20th Century. It was a style that builders could take on with or without the services of an architect, and generally used locally sourced materials. Customized components and even pre-fabricated sections were readily available using catalogues such as Sears, Montgomery Wards and Aladdin. It promoted simplicity with clean lines and evoked strength and quality in how the exterior components were placed.
With its popularity spanning a 20-year period, several variations of Craftsman houses developed, three of which are particular to Vancouver. These are traditional Craftsman, Vancouver Craftsman and Craftsman Bungalow. Each was influenced by builders’ budgets and changes in taste over time and the adaptations in design to suit both large and small lots in neighbourhoods across the city.
A number of similarities can be found between the three, as well as unique traits.
The Vancouver Craftsman house tended to be set on smaller urban lots and achieved some of the symmetry found in the traditional Craftsman. They were commonly two storeys and front gabled.
The typical Vancouver Craftsman had secondary gables running the full length of both sides. These multiple roof lines tempered the massing considerably while maximizing upper floor area. Covered entry porches were a dominant feature on all Craftsman houses. Similar to the traditional Craftsman, the Vancouver Craftsman house had a full-width porch, although not as deep, and sometimes a narrower recessed sleeping porch above. As with the traditional Craftsman house, the rooflines tended to a lower pitch.
Similar in many respects to the Traditional Craftsman, with flared or squared porch posts expressing strength and framing the porch – however lower sections tended to be wood and not stone. The porch was framed by a low-set balustrade, while stairs leading up to porch tended to be narrower. Gable ends featured exposed soffits and large brackets (either single vertical post or adding a diagonal bracket commonly known as “knee brackets”), with substantial roof overhangs and exposed rafter “tails”. In the top of the front gable, wood detailing known as “dentils” or plain horizontal banding was commonly used, with variations of contrasting shingle, lap siding or stucco.
Windows of earlier Craftsman homes were casements with a leaded or stained glass transom, while later versions opted for double hung windows with sashes in a one-third to two thirds proportion. Those fronting the porch were set in groups of three or four, and in more elaborate examples, the upper sash was stained glass. In most other windows the upper sash had muntins dividing the glass into smaller panes. Front door had a window components and sidelights. Piano windows were used most often on side walls.
The most common material was wood, reflecting the local sources, typically shingles on the main body of the house with lap siding often covering the lower portion. Stone and brick were used as accents on the porch and brick for chimneys, but in a less “rustic” format than with traditional Craftsman.