As most of us will be gathering around our fireplaces with our families for the holidays, we wanted to add another style of fireplaces to our series on fireplace design. As you’re enjoy the warm glow of your fire, we hope you’ll also enjoy this look at the Arts and Crafts style!

Fireplaces played a pivotal role in Arts and Crafts design. The architectural era known as the Arts and Crafts Movement which began in 1860 Britain was incited by 19th century artisans who were tired of the overwrought extravagance of the Victorian Era as well as the sometimes-shoddy products brought by industrialism that felt disconnected from art and nature. Arts and Crafts proponents, therefore, focused on reverting back to the authenticity of traditional craftsmanship and the natural beauty of local materials found in nature.

Led by artisans Gustav Stickley and William Morris, the movement was driven by specific design guidelines, which greatly influenced Frank Lloyd Wright’s work. In fact, the style was defined not only by a clear set of parameters that ensured good design but “an entire canon of beliefs,” as design writer Lisa Frederick put it. Simple forms, clean lines and tapered columns, for instance, were three of these rigid design statutes. While some machinery manufacturing was later used to get these designs to the general public at a reasonable price, the Arts and Crafts movement reflected a return to medieval methods of production, mainly handmade and handcrafted designs.

The Arts and Crafts movement was the era of the quartered tile pattern fireplace. Various sizes of partially vitrified bricks called clinker bricks were the second most popular material next to tiles, and they were often laid conventionally or vertically and sometimes even in a herringbone pattern. Many fireplaces were trimmed in blocky ashlar stones or native river rock, and some were constructed with more refined materials such as dressed stone or scenic art tiles.

Fireplaces were large and often including handmade beaten copper inserts and Middle Age design elements such as hoods and inglenooks. Nature motifs were also very popular and often included birds, blossoms and fruit, but abstract patterns and carvings were limited to thin borders. As one historian notes, “These Fireplaces were often found in ‘stockbroker belt’ semi detached houses of the period, typically the half-timbered Mock Tudor properties many of which had heraldic decorative themes.” The decorative designs associated with Charles Rennie Macintosh and characteristic of Art Nouveau began to appear in later Arts and Crafts designs.

Be it Victorian, Edwardian, Arts and Crafts or another architectural period, TMS Architects can help you restore and renovate your historical home or building to honor its original story and character while enhancing it with modern comforts and luxuries. Visit our website today to learn more about how we can help you achieve the home of your dreams!

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