Front Doors for Craftsman Style Homes

craftsman home

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Early in the 20th Century, a new home style emerged from the blossoming Arts and Crafts movement in the U.S. These homes – or bungalows, as they are commonly known – were in direct contrast to the elaborate Victorians also popular at that time. The Craftsman home has had a major resurgence in popularity in recent years. Let’s review the primary identifiers of exteriors and front doors for craftsman style homes now.

What are the characteristics of a craftsman style home?

Victorian homes were known for their excesses, with trim, carvings, “gingerbread”, stained glass, and intricate metalwork. Craftsman homes, by contrast, focused on hand-crafted styles celebrating natural materials including wood and stone. The architectural design called for a low profile structure with a low-pitched roof, exposed beams, and large squared columns. The wide porch often stretched the entire width of the house, and the front door sat centrally inside its shadows. If Victorians were ornate, romantic and full of flourish, Craftsman homes were clean, sturdy, chunky, and geometric.

traditional craftsman style home
A typical Craftsman home, or “bungalow” had a low profile with a low-pitched roof, overhanging eaves and a large porch with square or tapered columns.

Craftsman Style Home Exteriors

Modern craftsman homes maintain the basic architectural themes of those early 20th century bungalows. Linear and solid, they have retained the beams, columns, and broad porches of their predecessors. Heavy woodwork trim grounds the look, but rooflines have been raised and windows enlarged to accommodate modern preferences for natural light and airflow.

A modern craftsman style home in grey with white trim and landscaping
A modern craftsman home showcases squared posts on the porch, geometric lines, and a muted color palette.

Traditional Craftsman Style Front Door

Craftsman doors are easily recognized. Made from hardwoods, a stained finish was more common than paint, fitting the overall emphasis on natural materials and giving the door a solid, elegant appearance. Often, these doors had a hand-crafted look about them.

A row of small glass panels, usually rectangular, filled the upper eighth to third of the door. The glass may be clear, leaded, or stained glass. Immediately below, a dentil shelf created a pleasing focal point while giving a nod to the exposed beams in the rafters above. A dentil shelf is a long, straight block of wood with several wood squares beneath – more than any other detail, this shelf creates the iconic “craftsman” door. Simple flat panels fill the space on the door below the dentil shelf.

Traditional craftsman style doors are crafted from hardwoods like mahogany, cherry, or oak…the trademark look traditionally includes glass in the upper-third of the door, with a thick or ornate piece of trim or moulding immediately below.

Pella Windows & Doors

Modern Craftsman Style Front Door

Today’s craftsman home will almost always maintain the iconic craftsman door. They will be made from solid heavy wood, such as mahogany, cherry, or oak – or perhaps low-maintenance fiberglass or steel with a wood-like finish. There may be one or two rows of small glass panes across the top of the door, with a dentil shelf immediately below, just as the original doors had.

Sidelights are common, on one or both sides of the door. They not only modernize the look, but give the door greater prominence.

a classic brown front door for a craftsman style home, and a modern version in black stain with magnolia wreath
Craftsman doors are distinctive, with small glass panes set above a dentil shelf. They project an air of enduring strength and timelessness.

While there are some painted craftsman doors, we think staining that shows the grain of the wood is the best way to go. This in no way limits the modern homeowner to a brown door. There are many beautiful stains in earth tones that seem to be tailor-made for craftsman doors. Excellent choices include olive and moss green, red-browns, and even some dusty blues. Warm tones are more suitable than cool ones for this home style.

Hardware is most often an oil-rubbed bronze, which complements the styling beautifully.

stain colors for front doors for craftsman style homes
While you may sometimes spy paint on a craftsman door, the vast majority will be stained in medium tones to highlight the grain of the wood.

Key Takeaways for Front Doors for Craftsman Style Homes

Architecturally, craftsman homes – or bungalows – were linear and solid, with wide porches extending across the front of the house. Nature-inspired, they featured wood and stone, with exposed beams, chunky trim, and squared columns under an extended roofline.

It is easy to recognize a craftsman style door – heavy wood, stained to allow the grain to show through, with small glass panes across the top. A dentil shelf will usually be just under the glass. Modern craftsman doors frequently have sidelights on one or both sides of the door.

Traditional brown wood stains are common, but earth-toned stains such as mossy greens and reddish-browns look exceptional.

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front door for craftsman home

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