You’re taking a leisurely drive or walk, looking for inspiration. You’re getting ready to build or buy a new home, but you’re unsure what style will best suit you and your family. You feel overwhelmed by the many different types of homes that you see.
You see large, tall houses with columns that look fit for a king but not quite comfortable enough for a small family.
You see long, sprawling houses that feel accessible but lack the personality you want.
You see sleek, modern styles that feel fresh and updated but not warm or inviting.
Then you see a house that captures your imagination. Just from the outside, you can see yourself having family dinners, planting flowers in springtime, and sipping coffee on the front porch. You’ve discovered the bungalow.
What is a bungalow ?
Bungalows are one of the sought-after architectural housing styles today. You can credit the bungalow’s popularity to its charming combination of character and craftsmanship and its practical assurances of affordability and accessibility. While bungalows have been beloved for many years, the 2020s have ushered in a revival of this classic style.
When did bungalows come on the scene?
Modern bungalows take their name from the Hindustani word Dak Bangla or Bangla, which means “house in the Bengali style.” British sailors to South Asia in the late 17th century noticed the hut-style houses in Bengal and adapted them to their needs over time. By the 19th century, ambassadors, officers, and other high-ranking visitors to British-ruled India wanted smaller, casual houses to rest in during their travels. They modeled their residences after the Bangla. The architectural style then made its way to England and America, eventually becoming the dominant architectural style in the United States.
What are the features of the bungalow?
Although the bungalow has changed since its inception in the 1800s and boom of popularity in the 1900s, there are several characteristics that make a bungalow a bungalow.
- Small size
Bungalows are nearly always small, with significantly less square footage than the average modern home. According to 2019 data in the United States, the average size of a house is 2300 square feet. By comparison, bungalows are usually between 1500 and 1600 square feet.
- One to one-and-a-half stories
Bungalows have one level that accommodates the entirety of the living space. Some bungalows add a half story for extra space, and some urban bungalows have a basement. However, the primary living space is on the main floor.
- Low, sloped roof with a large front porch
The sloped roof is one of the bungalow’s most defining outward characteristics. This sloped roof is an easy way to immediately differentiate a bungalow from other small house styles, such as the ranch. Another distinctive exterior element is the large front porch or veranda. While the size of the bungalow itself is small, the large front porch extends the living space into the outdoors.
- Open floor plan with fewer, smaller rooms
Bungalows are known for open, undivided living areas with smaller rooms extending off the main living space. The rooms tend to be smaller, and there are fewer of them, including bedrooms. The average house in the U.S. has three to four bedrooms, while the average bungalow has only two to three bedrooms.
- Low profile
Bungalows are known for having a low profile. Front steps are often needed to access the front porch, but then the living area itself resides on one plane that is close to the ground.
What are the different types of bungalows?
Almost all modern bungalows share the common characteristics listed above: small square footage; living space on one level; low, sloped roof; large front porch; open floor plan; smaller, fewer rooms; and a low profile. However, several distinct types of bungalows have emerged as their popularity has spread. The unique features of each kind of bungalow display its versatility and ability to adapt to various regions, needs, and preferences.
- Craftsman Bungalow
The craftsman bungalow is what most people think of when they think of a bungalow. The craftsman bungalow is associated with simple designs executed with excellent, fine craftsmanship. They focus on using natural materials and are often painted or stained colors that help them blend into their natural surroundings. The traditional craftsman bungalow also features plenty of single or double-hung windows that flood its small footprint with light.
- California Bungalow
The California bungalow was designed to suit Southern California’s climate. It maintains the sloping roof, large porch, and open floor plan of the traditional bungalow but uses stucco and wood as its primary building materials.
- Chicago Bungalow
The Chicago bungalow contains features that suit its urban location. Chicago bungalows are built of brick and have one-and-a-half stories and a basement. Stairs lead from the pavement to the porch, and interior stairways are located on the side of the house.
- Tudor Bungalow
The Tudor bungalow maintains the simple layout defined by the traditional style but adds features of medieval architectural design. Medieval design styles include the addition of intricate chimneys, detailed doorways, and wall cladding.
- Prairie Bungalow
The Prairie bungalow was designed by a group of well-known architects, including Frank Lloyd Wright. The prairie bungalow adds massive piers to support the roof of the large porch and uses contrasting wall materials and trim. It also features rows of casement windows rather than the traditional single or double-hung variety.
What are the advantages of a bungalow?
The history of the bungalow and its continued popularity today suggest that this architectural style has many advantages. Whether you’re starting a new build, choosing the perfect home to buy, or even looking for an excellent rental property, the bungalow has many advantages that commend it to you.
The bungalow’s small footprint and open floor plan make it a more affordable option, particularly for urban residents who want the privacy of a single-family dwelling rather than an apartment or townhouse.
The single-story design of the bungalow provides convenient accessibility for anyone with mobility challenges or families with small children.
The low profile of the bungalow lends itself to plants and shrubs that grant its residents privacy, and the larger lots necessary to accommodate the bungalow’s single-level footprint ensure some degree of separation between houses.
- Resale value
Bungalows are a house style that has stood the test of time and offers good resale value. Bungalows are popular amongst city residents hoping to move into a more generous space and downsizers who want the comforts of a single-family dwelling without the large footprint of many other house styles.
- Easy maintenance and affordable utilities
The bungalow’s structure, including its low to the ground roof styles, makes routine maintenance easier than more complex architectural styles. Its structure also lends itself to being more cost-efficient to heat and cool.
When looking for a place to call home, the charming bungalow should be on your list of contenders. Its dreamy blend of design and practicality has been the perfect home for many people in many places for many years—perhaps it will be just what you’re looking for, too.