Craftsman-style kitchen cabinets bring a sense of comfort, simplicity, and authenticity to any kitchen design. Characterized by clean lines, visible joinery, solid wood construction, and metal hardware, Craftsman cabinets hearken back to the Arts & Crafts movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This iconic style endures today as homeowners seek the warmth, craftsmanship, and functionality these cabinets provide.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore what defines the Craftsman cabinetry style, its origins and history, popular design elements, tips for integrating Craftsman cabinets into your own kitchen, and reasons for choosing this timeless look. Whether renovating an older home or designing a kitchen from scratch, Craftsman cabinetry can create a space that’s highly functional yet uncomplicated and serene.

What is Craftsman Style?

The Craftsman style emerged out of the American Arts & Crafts movement, which was itself a reaction against mass production and poor quality in late Victorian-era goods. Craftsman proponents like Gustav Stickley emphasized simple designs, natural materials, sturdy construction, and a high level of craftsmanship.

Applied to furniture and cabinetry, true Craftsman style incorporates:

  • Exposed joinery – Rather than hiding joints with trim, cabinet doors and frames highlight dovetail joints, mortise and tenon joinery, butt joints, and other visible connections. This nod to hand-craftsmanship is a hallmark of Craftsman style.
  • Solid wood construction – Craftsman cabinets showcase natural solid wood species like oak, cherry, maple, and mahogany rather than veneers or engineered wood. Rich woodgrain takes center stage.
  • Straightforward styling – Unadorned, square-cut doors and drawer fronts allow the beauty of the wood to show through without added decoration. Simpler is better.
  • Metal hardware accents – Hand-forged steel for hinges, handles, and latches provide an industrial touch. Hammered copper or bronze can also accentuate Craftsman cabinets.
  • Built-ins – Extra design elements like a plate rail, glass cabinet, wine rack or open shelving further the functional, handmade look.

Beyond these basic principles, Craftsman cabinets may incorporate paneled doors, exposed rafter tails, tapered legs, and other design nods to classic Craftsman architecture. Overall the style aims for an organic, handcrafted look that fits with other elements of Craftsman decor.

Origins & History of Craftsman Style

The Craftsman style was born out of the American Arts & Crafts movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The movement was spearheaded by designers like Gustav Stickley who extolled the virtues of simplicity, craftsmanship, and natural materials in contrast to the elaborate and mass-produced furniture of the Victorian era.

Stickley and his contemporaries took inspiration from the English Arts & Crafts movement started by William Morris. But while the English movement focused on handcrafted luxury goods, the American version centered around functional, affordable, and beautifully-made furniture for the middle class.

Stickley’s magazine The Craftsman promoted these ideas and influenced countless homeowners, architects and designers. Craftsman homes with their open floor plans, exposed beams, large porches, and integrated cabinetry became enormously popular across America. Over time, the iconic Craftsman look made its way into kitchen cabinetry as well.

Key events in the history of Craftsman style include:

  • 1901 – Gustav Stickley founds the Craftsman Workshops and begins producing Arts & Crafts style furniture. His catalogs introduce the term “Mission style.”
  • 1903 – Stickley begins publishing the magazine The Craftsman which promotes simple, functional home design.
  • 1904 – Craftsman bungalows emerge as a popular middle class house style emphasizing handcrafted woodwork, built-ins and integration with nature.
  • 1910s – Use of Craftsman style peaks across America. Features like paneled cabinet doors, granite countertops, built-in cabinetry become trendy in the kitchen.
  • 1930s – Popularity of Craftsman furniture and architecture declines as Art Deco and Modernism take hold.
  • 1970s – Interest in Craftsman design enjoys a revival thanks to renewed interest in handcrafted goods and rejection of synthetic materials.

Today, Craftsman design remains an iconic part of American architecture and interior design. Its focus on high-quality, functional craftsmanship continues to resonate with homeowners and designers seeking timeless authenticity.

Popular Elements of Craftsman Kitchen Cabinets

When designing a Craftsman-style kitchen, there are certain cabinetry elements that can help achieve the classic look:

Wood Species

Craftsman kitchen cabinets highlight the natural beauty of woodgrain. Popular species include:

  • Oak – Known for its prominent grain. Quartersawn white oak offers dramatic ray fleck patterns.
  • Cherry – Ages to a richer red-brown patina over time. Shows off both grain and color.
  • Maple – Subtler grain with light reddish-brown tone. Takes stain well.
  • Fir – Affordable softwood with visible grain. Stains to mimic pricier woods.
  • Walnut – Prized for chocolate brown hue. Grain may be more subtle.
  • Mahogany – Offers a deep, reddish finish and flowing grain pattern.

Door Styles

Simple, square-cut doors allow the wood grain to take center stage:

  • Recessed panel – A single recessed panel adds subtle shadow lines.
  • Plank – Wider, square-cut boards avoid ornate details.
  • Paneled – Dividing rails can break up large doors into panels.
  • Glass inset – Small iron-framed glass windows tie to Craftsman architecture.


Hand-forged iron handles and hinges add artisanal flair:

  • Black iron pulls – Angular wrought iron or matte black finished pulls.
  • Strap hinges – Prominent black iron straps mimic wooden barn door hardware.
  • Hammered copper – A warm metal accent against the wood cabinets.


Integrated cabinetry maximizes function and craftsmanship:

  • Plate rails – Horizontal ledge above counters to display dishes.
  • Glass front cabinets – Show off glassware or dishes while protecting from dust.
  • Spice storage – Pull-out vertical drawers for spices and dry goods.
  • Wine rack – Works as display and integrated storage.
  • Seating nook – Bench seating with built-in storage below.
  • Open shelving – Extra space for frequently-used items.
  • Message center – A corkboard, shelf, and hooks for notes, keys, etc.


Natural countertop materials complement the wood cabinets:

  • Granite – Classic natural stone with speckled pattern works with any color scheme.
  • Concrete – A modern, raw look that can be stamped or stained to mimic wood.
  • Soapstone – Heat resistant stone develops a silvery patina over time.
  • Butcher block – Wood counters can integrate with cabinetry, but require maintenance.
  • Tile – Handmade subway tile, a staple of Craftsman kitchens, provides texture.

Design Tips for Craftsman Kitchen Cabinets

Certain approaches in layout, color scheme, and decor can enhance the Craftsman vibe of your custom cabinetry:

Opt for simplicity

Craftsman design embraces unfussy, pared-down styling. Choose simple doors like shaker or plank styles in square shapes. Skip ornate moldings or carvings in favor of clean lines. Let the wood and joinery be the focus rather than applied decoration.

Use restraint with color

Natural wood hues are best for showcasing grain. If staining or painting, opt for muted, earthy tones like sage green, rustic red, charcoal, or brown rather than bold paint colors. Soft whites and beiges keep things light without competing with cabinetry.

Incorporate nature

Craftsman style brings the outdoors in. Keep windows uncovered to welcome in sunlight. Add ceramic knobs or glass pendant lights that resemble water droplets. Use vine or botanical motifs sparingly in backsplashes or tiles. Accent with natural greenery, vines, or potted herbs.

Add handcrafted accents

Seek out unique pieces that showcase skilled artistry. Display hand-thrown pottery or small woodcarvings on open shelves. Install hand-forged pulls or wrought iron fixtures. Choose tiles or textiles with visible craftsmanship like weaving or embroidery.

Mix old with new

Blending antiques or repurposed pieces creates an evolved, collected look. An old washbasin can become a prep sink. Vintage ladder rails get new life as pot racks. Salvaged wood boards transform into rustic floating shelves. Let new and old craftsmanship coexist.

Connect indoors and out

Use large windows, a pass-through window, or glass cabinet doors to visually link interior and exterior. Repeat exterior siding or stone materials inside. Echo outdoor colors in small doses. Extend built-in seating to open air porches or patios. Keep transitions fluid.

Reasons to Choose Craftsman Kitchen Cabinets

Beyond sheer aesthetic appeal, there are many practical advantages to installing Craftsman-style kitchen cabinets:

Timeless Design

Marked by simplicity and functionality, the Craftsman look transcends trendy styles and retains appeal decade after decade. The clean lines and visible joinery of Craftsman cabinets will never appear dated. You can renovate or update other elements of the kitchen over time without having to replace quality cabinetry.


Thanks to their solid hardwood construction and dovetailed joinery, Craftsman cabinets are built to last. With proper care they hold up beautifully to decades of regular use compared to cabinets made from lower quality particle board or MDF. Their sturdy build means they can take wear and tear in busy kitchens.

Quality Materials

Craftsman cabinets allow you to enjoy the richness and texture of real wood rather than veneers or laminates. Solid woods like oak and maple not only offer strength, but improve with age as they develop a worn, aged patina full of character. Quality materials mean quality craftsmanship.


With their built-in design features, Craftsman cabinets don’t just look pretty – they improve everyday kitchen functionality. Built-in plate racks, spice drawers, glass door cabinets and bookshelves all help you utilize space efficiently. This smart storage fosters an organized, easy-to-use cooking space.

Cohesive Design

The crafted look of wood cabinets, hardware, beams and built-ins creates a fully integrated kitchen design true to Craftsman style homes. All elements complement each other seamlessly rather than competing. You avoid a disjointed interior with inconsistent finishes or decorative motifs.

Eco-Friendly Choice

Locally crafted, solid wood cabinets from sustainably harvested lumber are a greener choice than mass produced cabinetry using particle board and laminates, which can off-gas harmful VOCs. When produced conscientiously, wood is a renewable and environmentally-sound choice.


Quality hand-crafted Custom cabinets made of solid hardwoods may cost more upfront than low-end factory cabinets made of particle board and plastic laminate, but because of their enduring beauty and functionality, they offer greater long-term value. Built to last generations, they’re an investment.

Integrating Craftsman Cabinets in Modern and Traditional Kitchens

While Craftsman kitchen cabinets reach their full potential in a home with an existing Craftsman, Mission, or Arts & Crafts architectural style, they can still look beautiful when thoughtfully incorporated into more modern or traditionally styled spaces. Here are some tips:

For Contemporary Kitchens:

  • Skip ornate moldings for cleaner lines
  • Choose unadorned slab door styles to avoid heavily distressed or overly rustic finishes
  • Pair with sleek modern hardware like matte black pulls in geometric shapes
  • Combine wood cabinets with high-gloss lacquered cabinetry for contrast
  • Use contemporary materials like quartz or concrete for countertops
  • Add warmth with touches of antique brass, leather, or natural greenery

For Traditional Kitchens:

  • Choose classic shaker or inset panel doors over highly stylized designs
  • Use traditional hardware like bin pulls, knobs, or cup handles
  • Paint or glaze cabinets in soft white or black for a modern twist
  • Mix with painted millwork, marble, or glass front cabinetry
  • Incorporate glass pendant lighting, decorative tilework, or turned wood legs
  • Display collections like dishware or teacups for an eclectic feel

The key in any kitchen is maintaining a cohesive look. Allow Craftsman elements like visible joinery and solid wood to shine while combining cabinets with other finishes and materials that connect to the overall aesthetic. Well-integrated Craftsman cabinetry can provide hand-crafted warmth and an element of chic simplicity in kitchens of varying styles.

Maintaining the Beauty of Craftsman Cabinets

To help your Craftsman kitchen cabinets retain their good looks and quality:

  • Dust regularly with a soft lint-free cloth.
  • Wipe spills promptly to avoid stains and damage.
  • Clean using a mild soap and water. Avoid harsh cleaners or abrasive scrubbing.
  • Apply beeswax wood polish to protect and condition wood surfaces. Reapply every 1-2 years.
  • Tighten any loose knobs or pulls to prevent further issues.
  • Inspect hinges and drawer glides. Lubricate with silicon spray if sticky or squeaky.
  • Adjust doors and drawers that become misaligned over time to limit wear.
  • Refinish or restain worn areas that need a fresh coat of protection.
  • Avoid placing cabinets in direct sunlight or near heat sources to prevent drying.
  • Consider gel stain if refreshing color rather than sanding stain off entirely.
  • Replace damaged hardware with handles and hinges matching the original style.

Well-made Craftsman cabinets treated with proper care will only gain in beauty over the years, keeping your kitchen both functional and stylish for decades to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key features of Craftsman cabinets?

  • Exposed joinery, such as dovetails and dados
  • Visible, solid wood construction
  • Straightforward styling free of excessive ornamentation
  • Hand-forged hardware like iron pulls and straps
  • Integrated storage elements like glass door cabinets

What wood species work best for Craftsman cabinets?

Popular choices include oak, maple, cherry, walnut, mahogany, and Douglas fir. Different woods offer varying grain patterns, colors, and characteristics when stained or finished.

What color schemes suit Craftsman kitchens?

Natural wood finishes look best to highlight grain. For painted cabinets, soft hues like sage green, dusk blue, brick red, charcoal, or creamy whites complement the style. Avoid stark white or very dark colors.

How much do custom Craftsman cabinets cost?

Pricing depends on wood species, construction, custom features, and local labor costs. Expect to pay $150-$300 per linear foot for high quality, custom work. Craftsman style costs more than stock or production cabinets but offers lasting value.

Can you incorporate Craftsman cabinets into a modern kitchen?

Yes, pairing Craftsman elements like visible joinery with sleek finishes like lacquer or stainless steel, as well as modern lighting and hardware, can give you the best of both styles. The key is maintaining an overall cohesive look.

How do you clean and care for Craftsman cabinets?

Use a soft cloth for regular dusting along with a mild soap and water for cleaning when necessary. Avoid harsh chemicals. Apply beeswax wood polish periodically. Immediately wipe spills to avoid stains or damage.


With their focus on craftsmanship and quality construction, Craftsman kitchen cabinets offer timeless, unfussy beauty perfect for both period homes and stylish modern kitchens alike. Visible joinery, solid woods, and hand-crafted details come together to create cabinetry that seamlessly blends function and form. If designed and cared for properly, Craftsman cabinets will bring warmth, authenticity, and everyday functionality to your space for generations to come.