Arts and Crafts Style

William Morris 'kennet' 1883 'Kennet' textile design by William Morris, produced by Morris & Co in 1883.

William Morris 'kennet' 1883 'Kennet' textile design by William Morris, produced by Morris & Co in 1883.

I had a client who lives in on of the old warehouse buildings on the near South side of Chicago. You could see the Field Museum from his place and he mentioned that the chairs for the museum when it first opened were made at the former factory that was now his home.

While the bones of the building were industrial, it was built around the time of the burgeoning Arts and Crafts Movement and the inspiration for the design of his home was drawn from that era. 

What is really interesting is we are having a resurgence of the same movement, albeit in a different style, again. The roots of the Arts and Crafts movement came from a reaction against the industrialization that was happening in the Victorian era. It was a return to handmade good and an increased interest in art. 

With the history of the building and the needs of my clients in mind I created a design style that mixed Arts and Crafts and industrial. 

My client already owned a coffee table in the arts and crafts style and so we wanted to bring in furniture that was similar, but the key to referencing a certain point in design time is to not do the whole space in the same design. Bringing in industrial elements kept the space from looking too overdone. 

We also used William Morris' wallpaper designs as inspiration for color. As you can see in the print above there is a burgundy red, which already existed in the space in the form of brick, and we were bringing in some blue grey, cream and greens as paint color. 

If you are drawn to Arts and Crafts style here are some ways to incorporate it into your home:

  • Bring in quality pieces. The primary drive behind the Arts and Crafts movement was to embrace well-made artisan products. 
  • Do not do the whole room in the same style furniture. While beautifully made most of the Arts and Crafts style furniture is very heavy wood. Mix other pieces in to keep the room from becoming to dark and heavy. 
  • Use the colors as inspiration but go lighter. As I mentioned above the furniture can be heavy and so can the colors. I would recommend balancing heavy oak furniture with a pale shade of blue/grey. Instead of painting the whole room burgundy, bring in darker colors through pillows or throws. 
  • Bring in the pottery. Do a search for Arts and Crafts pottery and you'll see a beautiful array of greens and creams and nature inspired pottery. 
  • Search out local handmade goods in your neighborhood. You don't need to look to the past for Arts and Crafts style inspiration. Go to your local stores and I'm sure you'll be inspired to support local artisans who are making quality goods today. 


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