Enter the Craftsman

Parts of San Carlos are beginning to look a bit more like Berkeley or Palo Alto, thanks to the number of craftsman style homes going up.

Jill Lewis with SC’s Planning Department says the city is seeing a growing  preference for this type of architecture. “Particularly in the flat land areas,” she said.

Especially true on one particular short street in the White Oaks neighborhood, where a number of small, ranch houses are being replaced with distinctive craftsman style remodels.

Dan Biermann of Design Studio Dreams is a residential architect who’s done a lot of work in San Carlos. He says over the last five years, his projects have mostly involved craftsman style homes in the City of Good Living.

So what’s up with that? Why the preference for this particular style that began in the early 1900’s in California with the aim of elevating the modest homes of the middle class?

Biermann says in San Carlos, especially in the flat lands were lot sizes are not exactly generous, homeowners want to maximize floor area so “they go up” if they can afford to build a second story. Enter the utility of the craftsman.

A craftsman can “make a very large house look smaller…if you take away the architectural elements you’ve got nothing but a big box,” said Biermann.

Of course, San Carlos has a few of those…featureless behemoths pushing out to the lot line; cheap stucco and sterile landscaping.

Craftsman to the rescue: the style introduces warmth, heritage and tradition while its proportions and elements break-up mass.

Biermann says this is done by pushing back the second story, creating various roof lines, adding visual depth to the house. The large eaves help, too, by bringing down the sense of visual height. All the other elements work together to minimize size: stubby columns, some stone work, shingles, shutters and maybe some window planters.

Biermann says he thinks there’s another reason why craftsman are growing in popularity. “We’re living more informal. Formal living rooms are becoming a thing of the past. People like great rooms that blend into the kitchen.”

Sometimes, the craftsman style stops at the front door. It’s all about the façade. Inside is whatever moves the homeowner. A true craftsman extends inside and that’s a whole other matter involving cabinetry and lots of wood work.

 

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