Detailing and proportion are early 20th century; comfort and efficiency are right up to date.
Synopsis: An architect describes how he designed a bungalow that has interior and exterior Craftsman details that give it a period look, yet still offers modern features, a large and bright kitchen, and an open, light-filled floor plan.
Bruce and Leah MacPhee had been living in their new bungalow-style house for about eight months when a thunderstorm blew through town one April evening. A bolt of lightning struck a tree near the back of the house, so close that to Leah it “sounded like an atom bomb.” Firefighters guessed later that a surge of electricity jumped to a structural steel beam in the rear of the house, touching off a dozen small fires between the first and second floors. Although no one was hurt, little of the house could be saved. Devastated but not defeated, the MacPhees gathered their resources and built a nearly exact copy of what they had lost.
But then the MacPhees had always been sure of what they wanted. They had originally approached me in the fall of 1994 and asked me to design a house for their lot a few miles outside Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas. They are fans of the Craftsman style, and so am I. The MacPhees liked the signature detailing and feel of a classic Craftsman-style bungalow: the low-slope gable roofs; knee braces at open eaves; the fat, tapered columns on wide porches. But they didn’t want turn-of-the-century Craftsman utility and comfort, meaning that plans had to include a well-equipped kitchen, energy-efficient windows, central air conditioning, and airy interior spaces.
As a result, their house is not really a historically accurate bungalow reproduction. Details are decidedly Craftsman in proportion and scale, but we tried to keep the spaces much brighter than the dark rooms of a typical bungalow. We looked closely…