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Bungalows - How to Decorate an Arts & Crafts Icon

Updated on July 28, 2008
Author's living room with many elements of a new California Bungalow
Author's living room with many elements of a new California Bungalow

The Craftsman Bungalow has timeless appeal. People are snapping up classic older homes in this architectural style, refurbishing them, and making them their own. New construction of custom craftsman style homes continues. The trend has even trickled down into the mainstream marketplace, where Arts and Crafts architectural elements are being incorporated into new housing developments around the country.

Where should you begin when decorating your bungalow? There are some wonderful sources for Craftsman Style Homes D├ęcor. Keep in mind that the Arts and Crafts movement began at the turn of the last century in rejection of the excess ornamentation and severe Victorian standards of the time. This was a movement dedicated to a return to true craftsmanship, form following function, the use of natural materials, and simple, uncluttered interiors.

Handmade wool rugs, one Craftsman Style, the other more Navajo in flavor
Handmade wool rugs, one Craftsman Style, the other more Navajo in flavor

Choosing Interior Colors

Interior colors should be natural and can be easily inspired by period textiles and rugs. It's always best to select your rugs and fabrics early in the game, then build your palette from colors contained in them. Although it may seem counterintuitive, starting with your rugs is a great bet. It's easier to find fabrics to coordinate with your rug choices than vice versa. Beautiful rugs are available in many styles and color ways, and the best quality are hand woven. Where to start? Depending on your personal taste, appropriate choices range from classic Arts & Crafts designs, Persian style patterns, and colorful Navajo rugs. The style of rug you select will help guide your next step.

Embroidered pillow, period style textile, embroidered tabletop linen
Embroidered pillow, period style textile, embroidered tabletop linen


Period inspired textiles and wall coverings are next. An easy way to put it all together is to gather samples in various textures and colors that speak to you. Lay your samples out in different color combinations and groupings to see what you like. Look through books and magaznes for inspiration.

Wonderful results can be achieved using a main fabric in a single color with subtle pattern in the textures and weave. Add to that a coordinating choice in a bolder pattern, and accent with embroidered pillows and tabletop linens. As you begin playing around with your selections, start your "swatch kit". Put your samples of fabrics, paint swatches, tile pieces and flooring samples together in a tray, and take it with you whenever you shop. This way you won't make mistakes when bringing home yet another sample that "doesn't quite match".

Paint Colors

With your main colors in mind, it's time to think about your paint choices. You can never go wrong using muted tones of golden yellow, mustard, flax and sage. Don't be afraid of color. A great tip to eliminate the fear factor is this: Buy pints of paint in the colors your are considering. When looking at those tiny paint chips, remember that the colors will seem darker when on a bigger surface. Purchase a big piece of foam core and cut it in half, or get big sheets of poster board. Paint each piece with a sample color. Now set your "test boards" around in the room you will be painting. You want to see how your colors look in various lighting conditions throughout the day and under artificial light. Live with them for a few days. You will have a "feeling" about your colors instinctively. When you enter the room, what does your "gut" say? You will know when your color is right. Adding stenciled or wallpaper borders is another iconic touch of the era. There are wonderful resources for both stencil patterns and rich wallpapers in period patterns.

Artisan reproduction of a rare Stickley Style Chair #369
Artisan reproduction of a rare Stickley Style Chair #369

Arts & Crafts Furniture

Prices for original period furniture have gone through the roof, but don't despair. There are many talented artisans reproducing craftsman forms at various price points. It's always a good idea to do your research and purchase the best quality you an afford. Cheap imitations abound, so don't shop for the lowest price. The time it takes to properly make and finish a quality piece of arts and crafts furniture is worth paying for. When you are watching your budget, just take it slow. Be selective. Furnish your bungalow with one or two fabulous pieces at a time as you go. Brfore you know it you will have pieces to be proud of that will stand the test of time. It is worth buying less and buying better quality than trying to furnish your home with a lot of cheap reproductions. The simple sturdy lines and well made pieces will give your home the look you are after. You can also mix in great grandma's Victorian chair, and pieces from other periods into your home. Most craftsman style homes of the era had a mix of styles too. Your home doesn't have to look like a museum! Adding embroidered pillows and tabletop linens also helps to "soften the edges" of the square masculine furniture forms. A well chosen mix of colors and textures is sure to delight the eye and creates a room you will want to spend time in.

Artisan Hand Crafted Sconce with Blown Glass Shade
Artisan Hand Crafted Sconce with Blown Glass Shade

Craftsman Style Light Fixtures

Never underestimate the dramatic effect your lighting will have on your Bungalow. Here the choices are endless. Educate your eye so you know what's what. Mixing good quality artisan reproductions with wonderful period pieces is a great strategy to get the most of your design budget. Its good to have a mix of styles, including table lamps, sconces, pendants and overhead lighting to create a balanced and flattering effect. Try styles with mica shades, a stained glass table lamp, and hand blown shade. Hand crafted artisan lighting is a wonderful way to add the look and feel of a period piece at a fraction of the cost. Adding candles in period or reproduction candleholders on the dining room will flatter your guests with a soft warm glow.

Adding Your Personality

The most important ingredient in any decorating project is You! Display a collection or start a new one. This is where the Arts & Crafts movement gives you lots to work with. Gather various shapes of hand hammered copper pieces, look at some of the pottery makers of the period, as well as the small workshops producing new forms in the spirit of the day. Are you good with your hands? Stencil a border, sew a pillow in a period style fabric, embroider a table runner. Have fun with it. Remember, your bungalow is a reflection of you - so go on - add your own craftsman touch!


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    • explorer9360 profile image

      explorer9360 8 years ago

      I love that living room!

    • Mountain Man profile image

      Mountain Man 10 years ago from KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

      Loved It!

    • flyingeagle profile image

      flyingeagle 10 years ago

      Lovely Hub and well written. The restful effect of the pictures was nice too.


    • craftsmantouch profile image

      craftsmantouch 10 years ago from Caifornia

      daycats, Yes, lighting has such a huge impact and is a great way to set the mood in your home. Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      daycats 10 years ago

      very informative. I couldn't agree with you more about the importance of lighting in the craftsman style home

    • Law Guy profile image

      Law Guy 10 years ago from Durango, CO

      My sister in law has an arts and crafts house and I've always liked the design but I've always had trouble understanding what the heck it meant to have an Arts & Crafts house. Thanks for the hub

    • craftsmantouch profile image

      craftsmantouch 10 years ago from Caifornia

      Thanks nightcats, this is truly a passion and a lifestyle for me.

    • nightcats profile image

      June Campbell 10 years ago from North Vancouver

      What awonderful hub page this is. I love the arts and crafts style of architecture and decoration and you have done a remarkable job explaining it here.


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