Craftsman Home: It's All About the Porches

A Craftsman home is all about the porches. They are the primary design feature of the home. When designing a porch, it's not just about the porch - it's about the rooms connected to the porch and how they interact together.




Rendering of a living room area








Still picture of a frame of an animation video of a house








Square Feet



House Highlights

  • Large Prominent Porches.

  • Craftsman Column on Masonry Base.

  • Gable Roofs.

  • Vaulted Ceilings.

House Highlights

  • Low Pitched roof lines.

  • Natural Wood beams and ceilings.

  • Stone, brick and siding combination.

  • Open floor plan.

  • Shed dorm.


Craftsman Style Home

A Craftsman style home is all about porch design and if you have something beautiful to look at from them, like the Blue Ridge Mountains in VA, it’s even better. We have a sunrise porch in the front and a sunset deck in the rear. The mountains and nature can influence the exterior materials and color choice.

We wanted to make the house appear to blend in with its natural surroundings, as if it was growing out of the ground. So, we started with a natural stacked stone skirt around the entire building. The stone colors look like the surrounding earth and mountains, and the stacked lay gives it a very natural, organic feel.

Nick Corcoran.jpg

Nick Corcoran

Architecture & Project Manager

Next, We put a layer of brick on top of the stone and Hardie shakes in the gables for accents that we painted a green to pop and relate to nature.

Front Entry Porch

The porch starts with the craftsman columns. They will have stone or brick bases, and wood on the top ½ of the column. They often have large wood beams with exposed rafter tails. The porch is on the front of the house, but sometimes wraps around one side to create an asymmetrical look. The house would not be the same if you remove the porch - the porch is the dominant design feature of the entire project. Doors and windows and dormers work with the porch and column spacing.

The style was started by two brothers - the Greene Brothers - around 1900 in California. The style is often called either California Bungalow or Craftsman homes. The Craftsman part of the name refers to the craft that the brothers put into the home and specifically, the wood detailing. The craftsmanship of the home is apparent at a quick glance and their craftsmanship is featured the most on the front porch of the home.

Learn more about the brothers and their most notable work here.

The columns in particular were often wood square columns sitting atop stone or brick bases. There are many variations of this column configuration, including double wood columns on a single large stone base.


Natural Wood Milled on Site

We needed to clear the land to create a view of the mountains, and for our septic fields. We decided to take the trees we cut down, mill them on site and use them in the ceilings both inside and out, like a true craftsman! You can also work with a logging company to take your trees to the sawmill and they will offer to split the money they get for selling it. Costs to clear land usually ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 per acre to clear it, depending on the trees, rocks and topography.

The pictures below show the poplar wood we harvested from site: image left - on the mill, image right - in kiln drying, and image beyond - up on the ceiling. Poplar dries quickly and is great for trim, as it is easy to work with. It has natural lights and darks that are highlighted when stained. There is even some rainbow poplar we found that is multicolored with purple in it, that we plan to use on our mantels. (The piece on the mill is Rainbow Poplar, seen just after milling it.)

Rainbow poplar is not a different species, but has been mineral stained while growing. It can go from light to dark purple in the same board.

Learn more about Rainbow Poplar here.

Ceiling logs
Rainbow logLogs


Think About How Light Enters the Space with Porches In Mind

Drawing of a craftsman home

Porches are great at blocking rain and weather but they also block light. Consider how to still get light into a space and have a great porch.

Nick Corcoran.jpg

Nick Corcoran

Architecture & Project Manager

The example above shows a cross section through the living room and the porches on the front and back of the home. We had great porches and huge windows, but the porch blocks a lot of the natural light. One way to still let light in beyond the porch is to add dormers above in a vaulted ceiling.

Bringing natural light into spaces in creative ways really is wonderful to look at and will add lasting value to your home.

Ceiling of a house

Designer Tip

Use Craftsman Style Columns

Diagram showing different columns of a house

The Craftsman Style has a very distinct column vocabulary of its own. Make sure to use the columns on your porch to give the home that craftsman look and feel.

Ben Robbins.jpg

Ben Robbins

Architecture & Build Manager

The Craftsman column language speaks to columns that are square, not round. Square columns are generally less formal than round columns and are easier to make on site.

Next, you will notice a stone or brick base under the columns. Sometimes the base is tapered or battered. You can also do a wider or continuous masonry base. The wider bases have two smaller columns on top.

The proportions of the craftsman columns are wider, or more portly, than a traditional column, especially for the half columns, as they can be 14” wide on top of a 2’ stone base. A traditional column for a 9’ height would only be 12” wide or smaller. This gives the column a very substantial appearance and makes it seem that it can easily carry the roof above.

Some examples have a continuous stone column that is tapered. The beams of the porch sitting atop the columns can be painted or stained.

The Craftsman columns and porches are great for decorating, with plants hanging from the beams and decorative urns beside the columns to mark the entrance. And don’t forget the front porch swing!

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