The Arts and Crafts movement spawned an architectural style that emphasized individual craftsmanship and strong forms derived from geometry and nature. Arts and Crafts-style houses, popular in the early 1900s, were often bungalows that were built to harmonize with their natural environment; thus, natural wood and stone has a place of prominence in many Arts and Crafts homes. The accompanying interior and exterior paint colors were complementary to the woodwork and often were mellow, subdued hues that took cues from foliage and plant life, grains and harvest and earth tones of dirt, clay and desert.
When choosing colors, draw inspiration from your region and natural surroundings, and look for a palette of organic colors that complement each other well. Rich hunter green and dusky reds and browns were commonly used in early 1900s Arts and Crafts living rooms, serving to evoke the colors of earth and foliage. Blue-greens, blue-grays and soft yellows were also used in early 20th-century Arts and Crafts homes. These are particularly appropriate if you are located near the ocean, where you might consider blues and grays that evoke water and stone or yellow and brown sand tones.
Light and Woodwork
The quality of light in your Arts and Crafts home helps determine the way an interior paint color will appear. If a particular room receives lots of bright, direct sunlight, use “cool” colors like blue-greens. “Warm” colors like squash yellow and dusky rose or adobe look best in softer, glowing light. Many Arts and Crafts homes feature natural oak and stone, and they are complemented by darker colors, like hunter green, while some homes feature lighter woodwork or tile work and are well-suited to lighter shades of blue, gray or cream. Choose a wall color for each room that will emphasize the natural beauty of its existing wood and stonework, while matching the quality of the natural light.
After choosing some colors inspired by your home’s natural surroundings and based on each room’s light and woodwork, ensure that the specific shades you use to cover your walls are organic and earthy. To be consistent with Arts and Crafts style, avoid pastel shades or primary colors when painting your walls and look for their more subdued counterparts. If you want to use a color that is not so obviously an earth tone, such as purple or pink, look for shades of the color that are dusky, dusty and muted. In general, an Arts and Crafts home featured a single wall color in each room.
Accents and Contrast
Many Arts and Crafts interiors rely on the contrast between the woodwork or stone and paint color, rather than on painted trim or decorative details. Instead of using different paint colors as accents in a room, create contrast throughout the house by allocating a separate color to each room. As is often the case in Arts and Crafts bungalows, rooms such as the living room and dining room will open into one another without a door, delineated partly by the separate colors of the rooms. Stained glass ornamentation and artisan light fixtures were also used for effect in Arts and Crafts houses and traditionally were found in a wider range of colors. Try a jewel-toned glass ornament or lampshade from the period as an accent.