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Bungalow homes in the 1940s

Updated March 23, 2017

A bungalow is a one- or one-and-a-half-story home that often features some type of veranda. The term derives from India and the Gujarati word "Bangalo." Bungalows first appeared in the U.S. in the late 19th century and continued to increase in popularity through the 20th century. In the 1940s, particularly at the end of World War II, urbanisation caused the creation of suburbs, with new and modern bungalow homes sought after by young married couples.

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Chicago bungalows were built from 1903. They had one and a half stories and modern conveniences for the time, such as electric and central heating. They were faced with brick, with stone trim and large windows and low, overhanging roofs. Many also had basements. In the 1940s, Chicago-style bungalows started to lose their appeal and new builds were generally of the more modern Ranch and Minimalist designs.


With the popularity of the car came the Ranch bungalow, complete with garage. In 1932, San Diego architect Cliff May created a building type inspired by the Spanish hacienda that he called "the early California Ranch house." It was a low-slung, vernacular building that followed the contours of the land. The style was heavily promoted in the 1940s and 1950s in new suburban communities. Characteristics of a Ranch house include a wide, ground-hugging profile, low-pitched roof, deep eaves and a garage positioned at the front of the house.


Minimal traditional characteristics integrated a front-facing gable with a longer section, small eaves and the most simplistic of architectural details. Minimalist design was more about affordability as it was aesthetics, and minimalist bungalows were built prolifically in large tract-housing developments before and after World War II.

Split Level

The Split Level started to emerge from the mid-1940s, becoming more popular in the 1950s. This design style is characterised by a two-story section adjoined mid-level to a one-story wing, which creates three levels of space for families to utilise for sleeping, recreation and dining.

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About the Author

Helen Harvey began her writing career in 1990 and has worked in journalism, writing, copy-editing and as a consultant. She has worked for world-class news sources including Reuters and the "Daily Express." She holds a Master of Arts in mass media communications from Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.

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