Home is Where the Heart is

By Beacon Staff

Many of our local homes have a very unique flair about them – some call them craftsman style and others call them bungalows. History shows them to be a touch of both. Many of these homes were born out of a utilitarian-style floor plan layout and the dreams of a young farm boy growing up in fly-over country in Wisconsin at the late turn of the 19th century.

As a young man Gustav Stickley had a vision to create a simple, natural, utilitarian design that all could enjoy and embrace. Gustav created what is now known as the craftsman style. Gustav’s dreams spread like wildfire and many home designers embraced Gustav’s simple craftsman style designs and incorporated them into their interiors. As they began using the craftsman style, it turned the interior designs into simple, streamlined trims that transformed the interior living space into a personalized warm comfortable home. These new designs removed the ornate detailing (most of the time we called them dust collectors) into clean simple lines that accentuated the natural beauty of the types of woods used as trim.

The design was a major departure from the normal large homes that dotted the South and East Coast. The design was simple yet very functional. The premise of the floor plan was based upon a central living area and all other rooms would surround the living room. This created one main living room where all family activities took place, unlike the normal designs where you had a formal gathering room for guests and a more private gathering room for the family. This design was based upon the consideration that your guests were a part of your family and that the whole family should be able to enjoy the visitors that were invited to your home.

Another unique feature of the bungalow designs is the forward thinking of including nature’s beauty as part of the home – but not in the traditional way of massive gardens and expansive lawns surrounding the home. These pioneer land and home designers believed that one should create a more manageable and personal area. They accomplished this with the semi-enclosed front porch. This allowed the home to be seen as one homogenous structure, creating a well-designed home that exudes a warm and inviting feeling.

To finish the full design of the exterior, these creative designers brought forth the idea of incorporating lower pitched roof designs at the entry and steeper pitches to utilize the second floor for a bedroom or attic living space. Along with these added features they brought forth the idea of simple craftsman style details accenting the support of the front porch as well as the main roof structure. By adding these small yet essential details the designers could then replicate the exterior beauty and bring those simple details into the interior.

One of the most common features in these new interior designs were the built-in book shelves, cabinets and seating booths in the living room and kitchens. The new features allowed more freedom for the builder and home designer, while allowing the homeowner to have input in the interior design of the home. These designs truly allowed for a simplistic, functional and beautiful new brand of homeownership in America.

Thanks to the vision of the forward thinkers at the turn of the century, a new artistic, simple-living style has been established in towns all across America. These pioneers in home design have created something that will live for generations to come that we all can appreciate and enjoy. Even today we can see the influences of the bungalow/craftsman styles in our new homes and subdivisions. Truly these home designers and Gustav Stickley have made a lasting impact on how we live today and, I believe, for years to come. I tip my hat to forward thinkers in home design.

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