What is a bungalow style house?

Written by shelly mcrae
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The bungalow style home is associated with the architectural style of the Arts and Crafts bungalow, a style popularised in the early 20th century. The term has, since 1900, come to encompass other architectural styles, including the California bungalow and the Prairie bungalow. In the loosest of definitions, a bungalow style house is any small home sharing common characteristics with the Arts and Crafts style.

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Exterior Characteristics

Bungalow homes are single family dwellings, 1 to 1 1/2 stories with low-pitched roofs. Dormers are common to the Arts and Crafts style of home, as well as the Prairie style, though the latter may exclude them. Windows vary in size and are grouped together to aid in light control. Frank Lloyd Wright, a master of the Prairie style bungalow, positioned windows to work with the orientation of the home to maximise passive solar power. Bungalows are constructed of wood and stone and include large porches, either along the front of the home or along the side, a characteristic sometimes seen in California bungalows. The overall exterior aesthetic of a bungalow home is of a horizontal application, with the house appearing to spring from the ground rather than having been built on top of it.

Interior Floor Plan

An open floor plan, in which rooms flow together unimpeded by long walls and doors, are common to the bungalow style. With the public spaces upfront, visitors may see the living room and dining room in the sweep of an eye with the kitchen situated toward the back of the house. Bedrooms and private quarters are removed from public view, tucked at the back of the home. Occupants move through open hallways from public to private areas of the home.

Interior Style

Natural materials are a mainstay of the bungalow. Wood, stone and glass make up most of the interior structure with emphasis on the natural state of these as building materials. Built-in cabinetry, half-walls with wood spindles, wood beams and wainscoting are typical of bungalow interior designs. Stone is used for flooring -- usually tiles -- and for fireplace surrounds. Though not commonly seen in bungalows designed for lower and middle class neighbourhoods, the use of decorative stained glass is characteristic of the higher end Arts and Crafts bungalows.


Though a bungalow is defined by its architectural characteristics, the style has its variations. The Aeroplane Craftsman, for example, has a second story that is situated as an upper level set back from the front of the house. This second story "pops up" from the first-story roof, a roof with considerably less pitch than more typical bungalows. The Colonial Craftsman also deviates slightly from the typical and more closely resembles the contemporary ranch style architecture. The door is centrally located, as with most bungalows, but rather than multiple levels of roofing and dormers, the Colonial presents as a long, linear structure with a shallow front porch and no dormers.

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