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Craftsman Style Lodging: Exploring its History and Characteristics

Rocky Mountain National Park LodgingThe beautiful Golden Leaf Inn was built in 1921 at the end of the Arts and Crafts Era of architecture and still maintains much of its original character and charm today. With its low gabled roof, built in cabinetry and many windows that invite the light, it displays many characteristics of craftsman style lodging. Let’s dig into a little more information about the Arts and Crafts Era to help you understand just how unique and historical your experience at The Golden Leaf Inn can be.

The History of Craftsman Style Lodging

The history of craftsman style lodging began around 1850 during the Arts and Crafts Movement in Great Britain, interestingly around the same time that Estes Park was settled. Later moving to America, the architecture is generally believed to have been prominent in Britain between 1905 and 1920, but continued to be popular in America well into the 1930s. Previously popular Victorian style, with its ornate detail and busyness, coupled with the Industrial Era of factory production and untrained workers left people wanting for¬†simplicity and high quality craftsmanship. This led consumers to rethink their previous choices for beauty and living environment to something more natural and plain. Thus a British group of influential artists and thinkers who followed leaders in the field such as John Ruskin and William Morris desired to return to a more simple, natural style of home and furniture while still appreciating excellent craftsmanship and aesthetics. Americans adapted Morris’s idea of avoiding the use of machinery altogether by instead using machinery in a limited capacity to their advantage, assisting them in developing excellent craftsmanship, maintaining a living and building for the demand.

Rocky Mountain National Park Lodging

Gustav Stickley, an American furniture maker at the end of the 19th century, was inspired to experiment with the Arts and Crafts style after a trip to Britain. In 1901, he published the first “The Craftsman” catalog, in which he later wrote of the importance of creating beautiful, functional furniture according to the Art and Crafts design philosophy that reflected the best of the American character: plain, honest and practical. He felt that the overly-ornate, badly built furniture of the time made in huge factory quantities had a negative influence on the honest character of the average American. Stickley’s furniture was later referred to as “mission style” and was made solid, long lasting and with simple lines, which are still characteristics of their furniture today.

Unique Characteristics of Craftsman Style Lodging

Craftsman style lodging and furniture did not require design specifications or a set of rules incorporated in its structure, but was rather built on a philosophy that promoted certain outcomes when designers embraced it. Its foundation was in the simple design and high quality rendering of each home or piece that set it apart from other builders of the day. Builders and designers of this style included fine detail and artisanship in their work that made their productions functional yet beautiful. The design was believed to provide a more comfortable, healthy, productive lifestyle. By surrounding themselves with simple, uncluttered beauty, people sought to embody William Morris’s core ideal statement, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Rocky Mountain National Park LodgingWhat are some of these stylistic features of the Arts and Crafts Era, you may ask? Design choices such as low-pitched roofs; deep eaves with exposed rafters; 1 to 1-1/2 stories; a large fireplace; built-in cabinetry; large, covered front porches with massive battered columns; and lots of fine details such as hammered metalwork in bronze and copper, or art tiles by noticed American art potters were included in many homes created in this style. Details such as wainscot or chair rail commonly provided identity to the dining room. Often a plate rail was included with the wainscot as a place for display of other artwork and pottery also typical of this era of design. Backsplashes, countertops and floors became places where honor was brought to artists and potters of the time for their highly skilled workmanship.

It’s interesting to note that the Craftsman style was much more than just architecture and structural design, as it included in its philosophy a sort of moral foundation as well as the functional and aesthetic beauty created in the atmosphere of each room. The atmospheric beauty and peace is one of the many things that you will observe and appreciate about your stay at The Golden Leaf Inn. Not only is it true to its artistic and design history through its furniture and architecture, but the service, food and amenities add to its overall luxurious experience. Book your next stay today!