Friday, February 23 , 2018, 10:22 pm | Fair 42º


Anthony Grumbine: Craftsman Homes Became an Essential Santa Barbara Style

Popularity of movement helped establish a natural foundation here

[Noozhawk’s note: This article is one in an occasional series exploring Santa Barbara’s distinct architectural styles. Click here for a previous article on Santa Barbara’s Victorian architecture.]

Craftsman Architecture

Fundamental to the Victorian era of the 1800s was the ability to mass-produce decorative ornaments through the machinery and distribution of the Industrial Revolution. This mass production necessarily resulted in a loss of hand-craftsmanship, however. No longer was the individual artist creating a unique and personalized element. The machine had won the day.

Reacting to this shift in culture, the Arts and Crafts movement formed in England and soon spread to the United States. The Craftsman movement — as it became in the United States — proposed local, natural materials, simplicity of forms, originality and the hand-crafted detail.

In 1901 came the debut of The Craftsman magazine published by Gustav Stickley, a strong proponent of Craftsman furniture, textiles and architecture.

Architects such as Greene & Greene (brothers Charles and Henry Greene) in Pasadena and David Owen Dryden in San Diego championed the Craftsman style, helping it to become the most popular style of the early 1900s.

A Change in Form

Architecturally, this change in principles translated into changes in form. Rather than the tall, complex and steep roofs of the Victorian house, the Craftsman roof became low-sloped and simple. Instead of intricate cornice moldings that decorated the eaves of Victorian houses, the Craftsman had large, exposed eaves with rafter tails adding subtle details to the simple form.

The Craftsman used natural materials such as wood and stone, and complimented these with an earth-toned color palette. Unlike the mitered moldings of the Victorian houses, Craftsman window and door moldings express basic post and beam construction by extending the lintel molding slightly past the posts on either side. As well, porch columns of Craftsman architecture followed the lower, more horizontal proportions of the overall house. Basic details such as these helped set the Craftsman apart from other architecture styles.

A Change in Function

The Craftsman also came at a time of subtle, yet important social change. The Victorian house, with its separate servants’ quarters, separate servants’ dining area and separate servants’ stair, was designed for distinctly upper-class living that depended on a house run by servants. This was soon to change.

The Craftsman house was predominantly designed for the middle-class family. Smaller and much more efficient than its Victorian predecessors, the Craftsman house spread throughout the country. Built-in cabinetry and a more open floor plan provided a compact design that still had opportunities for beautiful carpentry detailing. Beauty and efficiency met in the Craftsman house.

Craftsman in Town

In Santa Barbara, the Craftsman house enjoyed a popularity that can still be seen today. From the small bungalow to the large, almost grandiose house, Craftsman architecture thrived in Santa Barbara. Even Greene & Greene designed a house in town.

In recent years, the popularity of Craftsman architecture in Santa Barbara has seen a resurgence, with many residences built in this style.

Although Santa Barbara is known predominantly for its Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, it is not from any one style that this town gets its beauty. The Craftsman style, like those styles before it, has helped make Santa Barbara one of the most desirable places to live in the world.

— Anthony Grumbine is a project designer at Harrison Design Associates, an architecture firm in Santa Barbara (as well as Beverly Hills and Atlanta) specializing in high-quality architecture in a range of styles. Harrison Design Associates is dedicated to the improvement of the field of architecture through study, education and leadership. Anthony can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >