Craftsman Styles (1910-1930)

Craftsman is an architecture of abundance, enabled by the wealth of wood available in the Vancouver area. Its prominent knee brackets and the amount of exposed structure such as rafter tails and purlins easily identify the style. The best examples have stone or clinker brick for foundations, porch piers and chimneys. Shingles are the usual cladding and give them a rustic look.


Craftsman is the American Arts and Crafts Style, mostly identified with Southern California and arriving in Vancouver about 1908-10. The emphasis on simplicity, quality, and local materials of the English Arts and Crafts movement inspired its development. It spread quickly throughout North America thanks to plans published in a popular magazine called ‘Craftsman,’ to which the style owes its name. It did not take long before other magazines and plan books started publishing their own interpretations of the Craftsman style. It was widely popular in Vancouver over a period of about 20 years, developing several variations unique to the region. The one-storey variant (sometimes called a California Bungalow or Craftsman Bungalow) is one of the most common types of heritage housing present in the city.

There are three main types found in Vancouver:

  • Front-Gabled single-storey Craftsman (California Bungalows)
  • Front-Gabled 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 storey Craftsman
  • Side-Gabled Craftsman (Swiss Chalets)


The purest “California Bungalows” style, occurring mainly in Kitsilano, is a bungalow with a low-pitched roof and integral porch, small attic window, clinker brick or stone porch piers with no middle post, and occasionally a mock-Japanese flair in carved fascia boards and clinker-brick chimneys.

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Side-gabled Craftsman houses (sometimes called “Swiss Cottages” or “Swiss Chalets”) are usually 1-1/2 storeys with a very prominent roof covering an integral porch and a sleeping porch set into the roof on the front elevation within a shed-roofed or gabled dormer or dormers. They have wide eaves, knee brackets and robust square porch posts with brackets; elaborate examples have stone or clinker-brick foundations or porch posts; shingle-siding is typical above the water board; the exterior chimney is often of clinker brick. The style is most common in Kitsilano.

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Front-gabled 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 storey Craftsman houses have a boxy building shape (very similar to the Gabled Vernacular Style) with an attached front porch with square piers, knee brackets and usually a shed roof; shed-roofed dormers and projecting bays on side elevations are also typical. Common in Kitsilano and Grandview.

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