By then, whilst the industrial revolution had made Britain very rich with its factories and production lines, some people didn’t like how plain things like houses had become, and how everything looked the same.
The Arts and Craft movement favoured quality over quantity and hand crafted items rather than mass produced, machine made goods, and sought to sought to replace the mundane machine with specialised craftsmen, hand painted ornamentation and human personality in design – essentially quality over quantity.
The resulting Victorian houses emphasised natural materials and recalled medieval cottages with sloping roofs, small windows and expansive gardens..
One of the founders of the movement was William Morris. He was very good at designing beautiful wallpaper, decorative glass and murals, many of which are still popular today. He once said that you should ‘Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’.
Fun Facts about Arts and Crafts
- Many Arts and Crafts houses resembled medieval cottages, and were built with many features left exposed to explain its construction, so you’ll see lots of wooden pegs in beams, and bare stone and brick. However, whilst Arts and Crafts houses were supposed to be for ordinary people, they turned out to be quite expensive to make, so in the end only wealthy people could afford them
- Arts and Craft windows were designed to give the houses a cottage feel – so think bow windows and multi-paned windows. Stained glass was also very popular, because of its medieval feel.
- Wallpaper was the big trend in the Arts and Crafts movement. Many original paper was made with using vegetable dyes and wood blocks. William Morris designed many popular styles, often incorporating an upside down heart
Classic Arts and Crafts features
- The outside – key features are white, roughcast render, everything being exposed to explain the construction such as wooden pegs in beams, and bare stone and brick, pebble dash, stone dressed window and door openings, low rooflines.
- Walls – were often wood panelled, but painted in dark green colours. The overall colour combinations throughout the house would be in shades of cream, terracotta, mustard yellow, olive green, deep blue and crimson.
- Flooring – wooden, in either parquet – downstairs – or boards in oak both upstairs and downstairs – a dark stain is imperative to give them that rustic feel.
- Fireplace – had huge wide hearths set in an inglenook and the mantelpieces were often carved, sometimes with ornamental decoration about it. The tiles used were comparable to art nouveau ones but with stronger colours – blue, turquoise, red and green.
- Lighting – typically just plain wall sconces, without any type of embellishment. In the main, the household decoration was delicate and handmade, with very little ornamentation.
Let’s go looking for Arts and Craft houses!
- Arts and Craft houses often resembled medieval cottages, with sloping roofs, small windows and lovely gardens. The Arts and Craft movement was all about handmade work – furniture was often made from woods, especially oak, and loads of leather work was included in items such as chairs. They wanted to show how things could be crafted from the beauty of nature, which they believed was lost when machines were used.
- The best example of an Arts and Crafts house is William Morris’s Red House in Bexleyheath, with its pointed window arches, steep roofs and wooden fittings. It has a lovely garden which Morris said he wanted to feel like just another room of the house!
- Other great examples include the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill, the Fire Station in Euston Road, which almost looks like the corner of a very large country house.
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Arts and Crafts movement, English aesthetic movement of the second half of the 19th century that represented the beginning of a new appreciation of the decorative arts throughout Europe.
By 1860 a vocal minority had become profoundly disturbed by the level to which style, craftsmanship, and public taste had sunk in the wake of the Industrial Revolution and its mass-produced and banal decorative arts. Among them was the English reformer, poet, and designer William Morris, who, in 1861, founded a firm of interior decorators and manufacturers—Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Company (after 1875, Morris and Company)—dedicated to recapturing the spirit and quality of medieval craftsmanship. Morris and his associates (among them the architect Philip Webb and the painters Ford Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones) produced handcrafted metalwork, jewelry, wallpaper, textiles, furniture, and books. The “firm” was run as an artists’ collaborative, with the painters providing the designs for skilled craftsmen to produce. To this date many of their designs are copied by designers and furniture manufacturers.
By the 1880s Morris’s efforts had widened the appeal of the Arts and Crafts movement to a new generation. In 1882 the English architect and designer Arthur H. Mackmurdo helped organize the Century Guild for craftsmen, one of several such groups established about this time. These men revived the art of hand printing and championed the idea that there was no meaningful difference between the fine and decorative arts. Many converts, both from professional artists’ ranks and from among the intellectual class as a whole, helped spread the ideas of the movement.
The main controversy raised by the movement was its practicality in the modern world. The progressives claimed that the movement was trying to turn back the clock and that it could not be done, that the Arts and Crafts movement could not be taken as practical in mass urban and industrialized society. On the other hand, a reviewer who criticized an 1893 exhibition as “the work of a few for the few” also realized that it represented a graphic protest against design as “a marketable affair, controlled by the salesmen and the advertiser, and at the mercy of every passing fashion.”
In the 1890s approval of the Arts and Crafts movement widened, and the movement became diffused and less specifically identified with a small group of people. Its ideas spread to other countries and became identified with the growing international interest in design, specifically with Art Nouveau.