It’s a common question we get often: How do I design a craftsman style kitchen that feels authentic and not cliche? We see many interior designers slapping craftsman doors on wood cabinets and calling it a ‘craftsman’ kitchen, but what did kitchens really look like during the craftsman era?
Built-in cabinetry surrounds a utility style wall sink.
Craftsman style spans from the 1860’s through the 1930’s and is known for it’s use of stained woods, clean, simple lines, and detailed tiles and cabinetry built by craftsmen of the era. Although craftsman style was popularized as a response to the industrial revolution, it did not take long for companies to start mass producing these materials, built-ins, and even entire homes. While most homes of this era had detailed parlors and porches, the kitchen was typically designed for staff (not to be seen). While a homeowner in the early 1900’s probably wouldn’t show off their utilitarian kitchen to guests, we love the modern contrast of a simple, charming kitchen in an older, more ornate home.
So, how do the interior designers at Airy Kitchens create rooms that honor the craftsman style without feeling like you just stepped out of a time machine? Here are some tips:
Vintage furniture pieces add charm and character. See more of this kitchen here.
1) Mix Built-ins and furniture pieces in your kitchen.
During the craftsman era the concept of a built-in kitchen was just starting to take hold. Kitchens would sometimes have one wall of built-in cabinets and the rest of the room would have freestanding furniture. In our kitchen remodels we like to give the look of separate furniture pieces by using contrasting colors, hardware, and details like feet to give the look of furniture pieces. Often, we will find an old hutch to include in a vintage style kitchen. One vintage piece can really add a lot of charm and history to a new renovation.
This new craftsman tile is being made the same way it was a century ago. See more of this kitchen here.
2) Craftsman Era materials are still being made!
Our favorite craftsman kitchens make use of authentic materials. When we were designing the kitchen pictured above, our clients wanted a beautiful craftsman style backsplash. Luckily, there are still companies that make authentic craftsman era products that will look and feel authentic in a new home or kitchen remodel. A few of our favorite companies are Motawi tile, Bradbury wallpaper, and Stickley furniture.
White cabinets keep the kitchen bright. Wood floors and moldings give a craftsman look. See more of this kitchen here.
3) Include lots of natural wood.
One detail that really shines in fine craftsman homes is the use of natural wood. Craftsman homes often had wooden floors, built ins, moldings, and ceiling beams. Of course, this often resulted in dark rooms. While it may feel brighter to use painted cabinets, consider using stained wood for floors or moldings. If you have a bright, sunny room, don’t be afraid to include lots of wood. It’s okay to mix different woods and stain colors. Consider lighter stains to keep your kitchen bright.
Cabinet details like brackets and exposed hinges look vintage.
4) Create vintage style cabinetry details.
The kitchen pictured above is an authentic craftsman kitchen and it’s full of gorgeous period details. Some details we would love to replicate in a new craftsman kitchen are inset doors, wooden end brackets, and exposed hinges. Note that these cabinets also have multiple panels on each door. This adds a nice detail, but nothing feels ornate. Craftsman kitchens like this were usually custom built on site. You may notice that most of these cabinets share framing. These are not separate boxes screwed together, but custom pieces built for the space. At Airy Kitchens, we don’t build them on site any more, but we do offer custom cabinetry that can be built in a similar fashion.
One detail we wouldn’t repeat from this vintage kitchen? There are no toe kicks. While we love the furniture look, modern home owners expect room for a toe kick. Especially in front of a sink. This photo is from a story on Old House Online, another great resource for people who love craftsman design.
5) Utility is the top priority.
When we were researching craftsman kitchens online, many of the new kitchens were covered with ornate moldings, flared legs, and all sorts of silly details that look annoying to keep clean. There are many different ways to design a modern craftsman kitchen, but we believe simple details and a utilitarian feel are at the heart of the original craftsman style. So, don’t be afraid to mix contemporary fixtures, hardware, and appliances with your vintage style cabinetry. A useful kitchen is more important than a beautiful kitchen.