Arts and Crafts homes, derived from the Arts and Crafts movement, began with The Red House in England, designed by architect Philip Webb in 1860 for William Morris, a designer and an initiator of the movement.

What began as a reaction to the Industrial Age and the dehumanization of people, the Arts and Crafts movement influenced architecture in so much that houses were built to be living elements within the natural environment – houses were no longer being built in a style to reflect the owner’s position in society, but rather to fit and function within the space in which they were built.

Arts and Crafts houses are built with the garden in mind, rooms and windows were chosen to make use of the sun for warmth and light and side entrances were favoured to leave the front of the home open for light and garden space.

Artfully crafted, as the name suggests, Arts and Crafts homes are known by a number of names, including:

  • English Domestic Revival
  • English Cottage
  • Cotswold Cottage

Englishman Eden Smith was the most notable architect of Arts and Crafts homes in Ontario. He studied art in Birmingham, England, where the Arts and Craft movement was extremely popular and brought those design principals with him when he moved to Toronto. His buildings, like most Arts and Crafts homes, are two-storey homes made of wood, brick and shingles, with many featuring a ribbon of windows on the south side to make the most of the sun and a recessed door. Muted colours were also used on exteriors to blend in with the natural surroundings, rather than stand out against them.

Unfortunately, much of Smith’s work has been lost in the city, where many of these homes have been torn down in favour of larger homes. It seems, sadly, that the simplicity of Arts and Crafts homes has not remained popular here in Toronto.

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