Red House, England

What’s in a Name? The Story of Red House

The story of Red House and the start of the Arts & Crafts Movement

Ever wonder why we chose the name “Red House Design Build”? Did you know there is, in fact, an actual, real-life, honest-to-goodness Red House that serves as the namesake of our company? It’s true! Red House is the name of the well-known family home of William Morris, one of the founders of what is now known as the Arts and Crafts movement in the mid-1800s. But we didn’t adopt “Red House” as our moniker just because we like the building–it goes deeper than that. In this week’s blog post, we tell the story of the original Red House by taking a quick look at this architecturally-significant home and giving insight into the ethos that drives us at Red House Design Build.


The OG Red House

Completed in 1860 in what is now the town of Bexleyheath in Greater London, England, Red House was designed and built by William Morris along with his close friend and architect Philip Webb. Morris, a textile designer, painter, poet, and activist (among many other things), was concerned that the emerging Industrial Revolution would accelerate the loss of classic trades and craftspeople. And while the Industrial Revolution made way for more affordable and accessible goods for the masses, Morris worried the accumulating wave of mass-produced products would give way to a “soulless” style of arts and ornamentation devoid of human touch. 


Bespoke, Handmade Design

As a response, Morris and Webb set out to refute the cookie-cutter homes that had been growing in popularity. With its L-shaped footprint and red brick exterior (hence the name “Red House”), Morris and Webb’s creation was a far cry from the stucco-clad cottages that were in fashion at the time. Meant to be a statement in style and function, the Red House looked more like a gothic relic of the 14th century–a novel idea for the 1800s in England. Additionally, by eschewing the widespread practice of mass production, Morris and Webb adopted an ethos of bespoke artisanship, meticulous design, and functionality–values at the heart of our mission at Red House Design Build today. 

William Morris' Red House in Bexleyheath, England.
William Morris’ Red House in Bexleyheath, England.

A Team of Experts

Though one could call Morris the 19th-century equivalent of a Renaissance Man, he and Webb didn’t possess all the necessary skills (or experience) to make Red House into the iconic piece of architecture it is today. Instead, Morris and Webb assembled a team of local craftspeople and artisans, all experts in their respective fields, to help build what would become Morris’ family home. From master carpenters to glass blowers, furniture makers to painters, Red House was meticulously designed and tailor-made for the smooth operation of daily life for Morris and his growing family. Morris even created his own wallpapers, which are still in reproduction today! 


While we haven’t designed our own wallpapers (yet), Red House Design Build has always taken great pride in the team of experts we work with. From our in-house team of designers and experienced project managers, as well as working with the best sub-contractors Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts has to offer, Red House Design Build routinely works with a team of artisans to create high-quality, custom spaces for our clients; a philosophy directly inspired by William Morris and his Red House. 

And there you have it–the origins of Red House Design Build! If you’re ready to work with our team of experts to make your dream home a reality, contact us today, and let’s get started! Who knows, maybe your home will be the next Red House…

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