Craftsman Style an Optimal Choice for Sustainable Home Projects

By Don Browne

The Craftsman is considered by many as the most popular American architectural style of the 20th century in just about every region and climate. Known for its lower-pitched hip roofs with deep overhanging eaves and front porches with exposed beams, the Craftsman initially appealed to middle-class Americans seeking solid, affordable, attractively designed homes.

In today’s homebuilding world, where sustainability is the top design element trend, the Craftsman style is an ideal fit for those who want to “live small” and use more sustainable materials.

The Craftsman is one of many architectural styles featured in Chapter 2 of the Vinyl Siding Institute (VSI)’s book, "Architectural Design for Traditional Neighborhoods," written by Fernando Pagés Ruiz, Korkut Onaran, Ronnie Pelusio and Tom Lyon. Inspired by the Roycroft and other arts and crafts movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Craftsman homes reflect the high degree of skills achieved by those who build them. The style combines elegant motifs with resource efficiencies like open floor plans, fireplaces, exposed rafters and longer porch roofs to shade larger porches – all ideal minimalist features for a sustainable home.

Another popular design trend for 2024 is a more decorative front using brick, wood or another high-profile material and finishing the sides and back exteriors with vinyl siding as a workaround to the rising cost of materials impacting affordable workforce housing.

The Craftsman style allows designers and builders to combine different exteriors, as Chapter 2 of the book demonstrates. With its unique emphasis on structural components – like exposed beams, columns and joists, and wood joinery – a designer can achieve curb appeal (especially with the front porch and dormers) while including continuous ornamentation throughout the exterior.

With the vast array of emulated styles that vinyl siding offers, you can have a wood, brick or stone look on the front or throughout the entire exterior or combine complementing exterior looks for a Craftsman home. Vinyl siding and other polymeric exterior products also provide a wide range of colors, including earthy neutral colors that befit the Craftsman style.

Look Toward the Future

The massing of Craftsman-style homes on a block face holds a lot of exciting opportunities for developing dynamic traditional neighborhoods. You can combine single-story bungalows (in which the porch roof can be an extension of a main roof) with one-and-a-half-story buildings with shed dormers or pitched roof dormers, along with larger two-story homes with single-story front porches.

Craftsman also allows for multi-unit possibilities, such as a two-and-a-half story building accommodating two units. And with the front porch being a defining element of the Craftsman style, design and sustainability can be significantly enhanced with recycled PVC porch boards, patio furniture and other beautiful accents from polymeric materials.

Learn more about the Craftsman style and other great American styles in Chapter 2 of Architectural Design for Traditional Neighborhoods to get inspired by the possibilities of sustainable New Urbanism with beautiful design using polymeric and other modern materials.