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Modern Craftsman, by Stanley Furniture

As if there’s not already a lot of reasons to love Craftsman style… here’s one more. The style is easily updated for a more urban look. That’s right! A style that set out to be sturdy, simple and smart can also be stylish!

More than a century after the first William Morris wallpapers and Gustav Stickley chairs, Craftsman style is anything but yesterday’s news! Seems sturdy furniture, smart features and simple, organic materials are just as welcome today! In fact, as rustic as it’s perceived to be, Craftsman style shares DNA with modern style! Beliefs that less-is-more and form-follows-function actually inspired Craftsman furniture designers before they did modern furniture designers.

So if your tastes run a litte more urban than rustic (but you love the warmth of wood!), check out these six ways to update Craftsman-style room designs!

  • paint the walls white or a cool, pristine off-white color; rustic, grainy woods look fresh and updated against very light colors
  • keep walls bare; use large, minimal accessories above furniture and keep the wall spaces     between pieces of furniture empty
  • add touches of black or iron on picture frames, lamp shades, chairs or placemats
  • hang botanical prints or black-and-white artwork in dark or light frames 
  • use polished hardwood floors in a light or dark finish
  •  lean rather than hang pictures; prop them up above mantels, ledges or sofa tables

Check out some updated Craftsman and Mission furniture collections in our roomplanners magazine.  

(If you’d like to receive our free online magazine every month, subscribe here!)


These days, a well-crafted workplace today can reside in any room. What’s more important than where we work is how well-equipped we are when we do! Today, a workspace may be simply a place to open a laptop, re-charge a cell phone and keep our mail in order. But look for a style that keeps details in order too! Orderly and hearty construction details inspire efficiency!

Few other interior design styles work as well for a home office than Craftsman style. By its very nature, craftsman furniture suggests a smart, hard-working home.  (It was born by artists, writers and intellects at the end of the 19th century – so it has very clever DNA). In fact, designers of craftsman furniture today are just as fond of creating savvy ways to store books, papers and supplies as original Arts-and-Crafts artisans were. That makes this style ideal for office and work places… especially when electronics and flexibility are wired in!

We used this very clever new furniture collection (Bungalow Baby by aspenhome) to illustrate exactly how smart a Craftsman-inspired home office can be!

Executive home office configuration. Bungalow Baby, by aspenhome.

An executive office configuration is ideal for serious worker bees and busy entrepreneurs. Instead of a conventional small credenza behind the desk, tall storage cabinets use every inch of wall space and create the illusion of built-in library shelves… a favorite Craftsman technique! Wainscoted panels with their orderly flat slats can actually inspire us to get organized!

L-shaped work station

If space is tight, but work needs to get done (or spread out!), an L-shaped work station is ideal. With efficient storage packed into a credenza along an office, bedroom or family room’s free wall, the desk has room for a computer, lamp, paperwork and even elbows!

Compact desk

A simple, compact desk is ideal for bedrooms, kitchens, hallways or any free wall or corner! But choose one with smart design built in—a charger tray for portable electronics, plenty of drawers, shelves and a place to work!

Find out everything you need to know about Craftsman style…  decorating ideas, paint colors, accessory ideas and much more, in roomplanners‘  Craftsman magazine issue.

If you’d like to receive our free online magazine each month, please subscribe here.

Craftsman is a uniquely American interior design style… suiting the sturdy living, smart choices and  natural simplicity inspired by America’s earliest pioneers.

But Craftsman style wasn’t born in America. The story of this style begins in England… near the end of the Victorian era.

By the late 19th century, a movement was afoot in Britain to return to simplicity and authenticity. The elaborate, over-the-top look of Victorian had become just too much for at least a fraction of intellects and artists.

William Morris championed the epic new cause to eradicate Victorian excess. At a time when machines and synthetic materials were taking over, Morris argued for a return to hand crafting and nature-inspired aesthetics. Better quality, he believed, would equate to better morality and healthier homes, communities, and lifestyles.

Morris formed a company and a movement to produce simple hand-crafted textiles, ceramics, furniture, wall hangings,    metalware, stained glass, wallpaper and furniture.

His home, the Red House, became a poetic icon of the movement. Its rough-hewn red bricks and high hedges blended into the countryside; the picture of security outside a modern new world.

The term, Arts-and-Crafts, was coined in 1888, after Morris and friends were rejected by The Royal Academy. Much like urban artists frown on folk art, this high-brow art institute frowned on ‘craft’ as inferior to ’art’. Undaunted, Morris promptly created an Arts & Crafts Society to revive  interest in hand-crafting skills using local materials and   medieval building techniques.

But Morris’ simple, honest, undecorated looks found their greatest audience in America. In 1897, Chicago established its own Society of Arts and Crafts. A year later, American Gustav Stickley began production of settles and sideboards that featured the hallmarks of the style, including visible peg joints and flat wood slats. Stickley promoted the new look in The Craftsman, a monthly magazine devoted to the style and its ideals.

Frank Lloyd Wright also found inspiration in the style. His Prairie Style architecture and fascination with simple Japanese design inspired a use of natural materials and flat, horizontal lines.  Both were dramatic contrasts to elaborate Victorian architecture with its pointed turrets.

The simplicity of Arts & Crafts in America also meshed with native and Spanish-inspired Mission styles. The country’s rustic past made it open to simple hand-crafting and utility as inspiration for a product’s design.

 Today, Craftsman furniture and room designs are uniquely American in their use of sturdy, smart and simple products. The style may go by many names… Mission, Arts and Crafts, Craftsman or Southwest. But whatever you call it, one thing is for sure: it’s still one of America’s favorites.

Read all about this much-loved style in our Room Planners magazine.. Click on the magazine, or on this link to open: (You can also subscribe here to receive our free online magazine every month).

Or check out our Craftsman RoomCue. It includes ALL the information and inspiration you need to pull together a Craftsman room like the pros!