If you’ve ever seen a Bay Area Craftsman Style home, then you know the beauty and character that these homes possess. This architectural style that flourished from the late 1890s to 1920 is characterized by simple lines, natural materials, and large, deep, covered porches. However, modern-day living has changed a lot since then, and Bay Area residents nowadays are looking for ways to modernize their historic craftsman-style homes without losing their architectural charm.
If you are looking to make your craftsman-style home more livable for today’s family, here are some ways to do it. In this article, we’ll provide tips and tricks to upgrade this beloved style so it is more fitting for the modern era but still maintains elements of its 100-year-old roots.
Preserve Craftsmanship When You Can
When people hear the term “modernize,” they often think of replacing as many features and remodeling as many spaces as possible. While this is certainly an element of helping any home shake off the design dust of the past, you’ll also lose any ounce of character or historic roots it had in the process.
Our goal here is to update craftsman-style homes while still preserving the architectural elements that make them unique. To do this, you’ll want to preserve as much craftsmanship in your home as possible, rather than removing and replacing everything.
After all, there’s a reason craftsman-style homes have this name, and it’s because the seemingly simply designed homes were made with the finest materials, and exceptional attention was paid to architectural detail. These aren’t the cookie-cutter houses of the 50s; every craftsman-style home is unique, thanks to the artistry of those involved in their design and their roots in the English Arts and Crafts Movement.
There is much in any craftsman-style home that should be appreciated and preserved, and we urge you to find these elements in your home and use them to your advantage in your modernization process rather than viewing them as a hindrance. Of course, there will be times when an original feature is simply too outdated or in poor condition to save, in which case, it is best for the home’s design as a whole to remove them.
Eliminate Crown Molding
Modernizing a home can be a mammoth of a task, and because of this, you might feel overwhelmed and at a loss for somewhere to start. If this is the case, we recommend starting with something small that can significantly impact your home’s aesthetic, like removing any crown molding.
Believe it or not, crown molding has been an architectural feature since ancient times, but it was particularly popular in the 1850s, not long before craftsman-style homes emerged.
Since they were often deemed a sign of craftsmanship in a home, it’s no wonder most craftsman-style homes feature them. However, if you look at the interiors of most modern homes, you’ll find crown molding isn’t usually present.
Removing any crown molding in your craftsman-style home will immediately bring it one step closer to the modern age. Most modern homes value clean, straight lines in their aesthetics from floor to ceiling, and crown moldings disrupt this with their curves and ornateness, so removing them will modernize any room with minimal effort.
Another reason you’ll want to remove crown molding is that modern homes prioritize having an open and spacious feel, which crown moldings can sometimes inhibit. Removing them sometimes helps walls seem taller, and ceilings seem higher, which will help the room feel larger and airier.
If you’re set on preserving your crown molding for their artistry, you can either leave them be or repurpose them as baseboards or wall frames or to create a modern wall design.
Repaint the Exterior and Trim With Modern Colors
Modernizing a home doesn’t always have to start from the inside. Sometimes, craftsman-style homes can stand out like a sore thumb on any Bay Area block, especially when surrounded by more modern or contemporary home styles rather than the classic Queen Anne, Stick, or Italianate homes.
A quick way to modernize a craftsman-style home is to repaint its exterior and trim it with more modern colors. Some options include:
- Charcoal/ grays
- Vibrant greens or gray greens
Historically, most craftsman-style homes were painted earthy or muted colors like silver gray, cream, lemon yellow, ivory, sage, and rose, with trim ranging from blue to olive green, rust, and brown. While some of these colors work well in the modern age, the combination of colors and trim don’t usually match current aesthetics (ex., olive green, and rust).
By repainting the body, trim, or both, you’ll be able to preserve the exterior architectural features that make these homes unique while also allowing them to blend in better with modern homes. It will be an exceptional breadth of fresh modern air compared to the many Stick and Queen Anne-style homes that boast vibrant and often starkly contrasting colors.
Knock Down Some Walls
We know this tip might seem a bit contradictory to the first tip we mentioned that pleaded with homeowners to preserve as much of their craftsman-style homes as possible, but we can’t ignore the fact that sometimes, the best way to get that modern open floor is to knock down some walls.
Oftentimes, craftsman-style homes have open layouts, which make them easy candidates for modernization since this is a feature many modern homeowners avidly seek out. However, there are instances when the layout is a bit too closed-off, or vital rooms are too small, so removing select walls can help increase space and mobility.
We certainly aren’t suggesting you should start taking a sledgehammer to the majority of your home’s walls, but you might find that converting a space or two with a more open layout helps give your craftsman-style home that modern feel you’re looking for.
Kitchens are common rooms that were closed off in older homes. This is because it wasn’t typically used for entertaining like it is today, and so, removing a wall that separates your kitchen from perhaps a living or dining room is a great start, especially if you’re planning to renovate and expand your kitchen anyways.
Renovate Your Bathrooms
There’s no doubt that modernizing a home can take a substantial amount of time, resources, and money. This often leads homeowners to prioritize certain rooms or features because they simply can’t renovate them all. If this resonates with you, we highly recommend the one room(s) you renovated, no matter what is the bathroom.
Bathrooms are one of the most used rooms by both homeowners and guests, so they can pack a big punch when it comes to your home’s aesthetic. If your bathrooms are filled with aging and outdated features, your guests are going to feel like they’ve walked into a separate home or time period when they close the door.
Some simple ways to modernize your bathroom are to update old features, like the vanity, toilet, and showers. Bay Area residents particularly enjoy bathrooms with a calm and rejuvenating aesthetic that’s accomplished with clean linear lines, soft natural wood tones, and neutral tile colors.
Don’t forget to swap out your old light fixtures for brighter, more contemporary alternates. Metallic hardware made of glass or brass is also beloved modern touches that add a simple pop to any space.
Revive and Preserve Wooden Features
Remember tip number 1? Well, it’s never more important or relevant than when it comes to your craftsman-style home’s wooden features. While all craftsman-style homes have their own unique charm, you’ll find a common material used consistently in these homes is wood, and oftentimes, it’s some of the highest-quality wood you can find.
This material can be seen nearly everywhere, from the boxed-beam ceilings to the floors to the staircase to the wall paneling and on. Unfortunately, the endless amount of wood is often a reason why homeowners are reluctant to purchase older craftsman-style homes because
- Wood can be extremely difficult to restore and maintain
- Too much wood dates the home
But before you start tearing down or replacing any of this wood, hear us out!
Wood in select quantities is a staple in modern homes, especially when used for flooring, shelving, frames, and even countertops. Therefore, if the wood is salvageable, revive and preserve and wooden features in your craftsman-style home.
We’ll discuss a little later how you can transform some of these wood features to have a more modern appeal, but for now, we guarantee your home will appear more modern and even have more value if you can save its original wood. If you have to prioritize some features over others, focus on floors and ceiling beams, as these are the most common wood features in modern homes.
Give the Kitchen a Much-Needed Kitchen
Earlier, we told you that if there was any room(s) you should renovate in the home, it’s the bathroom. While we stand by this, the second most important room is undoubtedly the kitchen, and we’ve only placed it second because kitchen renovations are by far the priciest modernizing projects you can undertake. However, few things will modernize your home faster than an updated kitchen.
Modern kitchens are built with entertainment and functionality in mind. To achieve this, most are spaciously designed with a large island as the central point of food preparation and entertainment, paired with bar stools. From there, you’ll want to update as many of your outdated features as possible, such as cabinetry, appliances, countertops, and so on.
A good place to start with your craftsman-style house is the cabinets. If you’re lucky, that wood we told you to preserve earlier is already featured here. But, if that isn’t the case, floor-to-ceiling kitchen cabinets made of woods like pine, walnut, and maple are currently trending in the Bay Area.
Additionally, open shelving and colorful refrigerators, ovens, and matching range hoods are other popular options for homes in this region. Of course, when in doubt, stainless steel appliances are always a guaranteed way to modernize any kitchen.
Since craftsman-style homes prioritized quality, some already feature modern countertop materials such as natural stones like marble, quartz, and granite. But, if it features a cheaper and unseemly laminate countertop, it’s time to update.
Alternatively, if your older craftsman-style home has original wood counters, it might be worth restoring and saving them, as wood counters are becoming more modern, especially in farmhouse-styled homes. However, wood countertops require a substantial amount of careful maintenance and protection, so consider this option heavily before building your kitchen around them.
Brighten Up the Interior
Remember when we said too much wood could age your craftsman-style home? Well, this is the tip you’ll want to read carefully if excessive amounts of wood are present in the home you’re modernizing.
Bright interiors are one of the most fundamental elements of any modern design. It helps a home feel spacious and rejuvenating, rather than foreboding and cramped. Because craftsman-style homes often feature excessive amounts of wood and limited light sources, they starkly contrast the modern day’s bright and open aesthetic. The best way to counter this is with paints and sources of natural and artificial light.
While wood is a gorgeous natural material, too much of a good thing can certainly apply here when trying to modernize your craftsman-style home. But, before you start removing any wooden beams or wall paneling, we recommend either staining it a lighter color or painting it completely in light wood-safe paint. White, ivory, and cream are usually the most popular paint options for modern Bay Area homes.
This should solve any wood-related issues you’re having and immediately brighten up any room. Now, you’ll want to take things one step further and support your bright paint with plenty of sources of artificial and natural light.
Natural light takes priority in modern homes, and the best way to acquire it is through large windows or glass doors. Suppose your craftsman-style home is limited in these departments. In that case, we recommend either enlarging whatever windows you already have or considering having more installed. Considering the spectacular views in the Bay Area, a glass wall wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
Replace Outdated Furniture and Accessories
Our last tip has less to do with the architecture of your home and more to do with what you place inside it. Vintage charm is ok, but if your furniture and accessories (ex. lights, decorations) look nearly as old as your 100-year-old home, it’s time to bid them farewell.
Old furniture can easily impede your efforts to pull off a modern look even if everything surrounding it is at the height of contemporary design. Therefore, when you’re going out to buy materials for your bathroom renovation or to paint the living room, consider how well your furniture and accessories in that space match the aesthetic you’re going for.
A great way to pay homage to your craftsman-style home’s roots is to keep or acquire a few vintage items, like a vibrant rug to place under your updated dining room table set. Alternatively, you can upgrade original features with a modern flair, like turning the fireplace into an aesthetic decorative piece or altering it to be electric, considering wood-burning fireplaces and open-hearth fireplaces are banned in the Bay Area.
There are plenty of creative ways to alter and enhance elements of your Bay Area craftsman-style home to appear modern while maintaining elements that still render it one of the most popular styles today.
Looking to remodel your craftsman style home? Element Home Remodeling specializes in craftsman style home remodeling, keeping their charm while modernizing the interior. We serve the entire Bay Area, you can contact us here to learn more and to schedule a free consultation.
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