When Frank Lloyd Wright was designing homes in his "Prairie Style" in the early 20th century, many people believed that he was the father of this new form of architecture. As it turns out, the style goes back even further. Prairie style is the more modern version of something called Craftsman style. This design approach has its roots in 1860s England, when the natural materials and sleek lines of the Arts and Crafts Movement began to permeate homes.
A handful of architects that include Frank Lloyd Wright brought the style to the States at the start of the 20th century, and the rest is history. It's a style that manages to look both traditional and modern, even though it's 120 years later. Many homeowners seek out well-preserved Craftsman homes, giving contemporary updates to the living rooms. Sadly, not everyone is lucky enough to live in the real deal, but that doesn't mean that you can't enjoy the style, too.
Known for crown moldings, low-pitched ceilings, built-in shelving, and a fireplace that takes center stage, you can achieve the look of a Craftsman living room by giving your space a few aesthetic updates and inspired pieces of decor. Here are 12 ideas that will help you master the look.
1. Go modern with an airy palette.
A Craftsman living room is typically marked by heavy, dark woods, but to give your space a more modern feel, you can turn to white walls. In the heart of this home, belonging to Robert and Christina of New Darlings, even the fireplace has been painted white, creating a look that's fresh and still stays true to Craftsman style.
Get the look: Anthropologie Hoop Mirror, $298
2. Choose vintage details.
To really honor Craftsman design, you can choose to incorporate furnishings and even lighting that nod to the style. Tiffany lamps have always been a popular choice for this aesthetic, so why not follow the lead of Joanna from Jojotastic and install a Tiffany-style chandelier? The final result will feel oh-so-charming.
3. Mix modern and throwback pieces.
The good news is that in a Craftsman living room, you don't need to go all modern or all vintage. In fact, we think a mix looks best nowadays. For instance, in this space by Bright Designlab, a vintage coffee table and midcentury-inspired armchairs live comfortably alongside a super-modern chandelier.
Get the look: Stickbulb Sky Bang LED Chandelier, $3,800 - $6,750
4. Make a fireplace the focal point.
If you want to go all in with a Craftsman living room, there's one detail you can't overlook: the fireplace. Known among devotees as the heart of the home, a fireplace is key. You can make it the anchor of the entire room by covering it in chic, contemporary tile, like the blue option selected for this fireplace surround.
5. Include stained glass.
Stained glass has always been a major part of Craftsman style, from the windows to the lighting. Alison of Deuce Cities Henhouse brought a touch to her living room by including it at the top of the window.
Get the look: IKEA Ranarp Floor/Reading Lamp, $49.99
6. Don’t be afraid to go heavy.
If an open and airy living room doesn't feel quite right in your home, and you'd like your space to look and feel truly Craftsman, opt for dark woods, rich colors, and hefty stonework instead. We love the dramatic effect they have in this design belonging to Jacey of Damsel in Dior.
7. Play with shapes.
Sure, the retro style tends to stick to clean lines and old-school millwork, but that doesn't mean you can't put your own spin on your Craftsman living room. Experiment with abstract shapes to make it look completely unexpected, a look perfected in this space belonging to Holly Stack, spotlighted on the West Elm blog Front + Main.
Get the look: West Elm Carved Wood Coffee Table, $399
8. Stay true to tradition.
For a really classic Craftsman living room, we suggest a brick fireplace, a stained-glass window, and wood ceiling beams. Designer Heidi Caillier brought these elements together in this space and kicked up the modern edge by adding a globe-style light fixture and streamlined coffee table.
Get the look: McGee & Co. Tory Coffee Table, $1,836
9. Make it cozy.
Craftsman living rooms have a natural warmth and coziness to them thanks to their robust wood finishes and fireplace. Embrace that feeling by incorporating upholstered furniture, pillows, and plush rugs into your space. That's what Emily of The Sweet Beast did in her space, and we approve.
Get the look: CB2 Mantis Swivel Wall Sconce in Black, $149
10. Keep original elements.
When moving into a Craftsman home, don't be too quick to remove original features in lieu of new ones — maintain authenticity by keeping the original flooring and fireplace. You can always refresh things with a coat of paint while still upholding traditional visuals, which is exactly what Emily Netz did in this living room showcased on Retro Den.
Get the look: Lulu and Georgia Leila Moroccan Shag Rug, $325 - $2,888
11. Contemporary colors will work.
Craftsman style usually adheres to dark colors combined with neutrals, but in today's world, you don't necessarily need to turn to the dark side. For your living room, feel free to bring in whites and pastels, a color palette seen in this space styled by designer Ginny Macdonald.
Get the look: Lulu and Georgia Fabienne Velvet Sofa in Moss, $2,709
12. Be eclectic.
As is true in most situations, there are always opportunities to give your space unique flair by weaving in eclectic decor. This can be especially true of a Craftsman living room. For example, in this 100-year-old home, midcentury furniture and a traditional coffee table play well with the modern-meets-traditional Native American artwork above the fireplace.