The Beauty of the Bungalow

Written by Brittany Allen

Bungalows are a popular housing style, appreciated for their laid-back charm, lasting curb appeal, space-efficient interiors, and easy accessibility. Despite having their renaissance in the early 20th century, bungalows are still in high demand all across America. 

Today, let’s talk about the past, present, and future of the much-beloved bungalow and how it can work for you.

The History of the Humble Bungalow

Believe it or not, this American idyll actually originated in Bengal, India. You can probably guess how the bungalow came by its name! As we now know, Bungalows were adapted from the low thatched huts found in India, called “Bangla.” Bangla were easy to build from local materials and were made to house wayfarers passing through the countryside. 

During the British colonial occupation of India in the 19th century, the Brits started adapting the Bangla concept for their own purposes and preferences. Colonists built one-story homes with open floor plans, adding covered wraparound verandas. The purpose of these additions was both protecting and ventilating the dwellings against the oppressively hot, humid, and dusty Indian environment.

Because of the Bangla’s origins as a rest house for travelers, bungalows were initially built as summer retreats and seasonal homes. But the narrative started to shift when, in 1906, ‘The Craftsman’ magazine published an article suggesting bungalows could be year-round residences. Imbued with the Arts & Crafts architectural movement’s philosophy, the bungalow became a staple of the West.

The Arts & Crafts movement inspired architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, the Greene brothers, and Gustav Stickley and marked a return to handcrafted goods and natural materials. Thus, the American Craftsman movement was born in the early years of the 1900s! 

As the Craftsman style became increasingly popular, manufacturers had to find a way to keep up with demand while making these homes accessible and affordable. In a stroke of genius, home retailers like Sears started selling bungalow “kits” – essentially, shipping an entire house to the desired location, some assembly required. While it didn’t have the same exceptional level of craftsmanship that characterized authentic Craftsman architecture, it certainly emulated the style and held up well for many years.

American Craftsman architecture’s influence can still be seen today, in original early 20th-century “California bungalows,” and their modern iterations commonly found in American suburbs.

To Build a Bungalow

While many people think of a bungalow only as a single-floor home, it has some distinct characteristics that separate it from other single-floor houses, like ranch-style homes.

Bungalows are distinguishable from other types of architecture thanks to their distinct characteristics

  • Low-pitched roofs  & broad eaves, sometimes featuring exposed rafters
  • An elevated main floor, requiring a few steps to get to the front door
  • A large, covered veranda, often supported by columns
  • Open-concept floor plans that maximize space 
  • Built-in shelving and storage
  • A front door that opens into the living room

While bungalows share a few features with ranch homes, there are also a few key areas where they differ. Whereas ranch homes are typically squat, low to the ground, and shaped like an elongated rectangle, bungalows tend to be more square and upright. Whereas ranch homes almost always only have one floor, bungalows can have one to one-and-a-half stories. The half-floor usually contains a dormer—a structure with a window that projects beyond the plane of a pitched roof.

Why We Love Bungalows

We know that bungalows are stylish and readily marketable, but what else sets them apart from the rest?

Despite their small structural footprint, bungalows are often located on larger plots of land, meaning you’ll have more outdoor space for entertaining, gardening, and whatever you get up to outside. This also makes them prime real estate for improvement and expansion, whether upwards or outwards. They are nice, compact, and private abodes, especially when you add a row of hedges. 

Because of their open-concept design and lack of stairs, bungalows are both spacious and effortless to navigate, making them perfect for kids and seniors. They’re also an ideal size for homeowners of all kinds, from millennials buying their first home to empty-nesters looking for a downsize. Bottom line – bungalows in high demand, which means they’re readily available on the real estate market.

Whether you’re looking to upsize, downsize, or resize your home, J.T. McDermott Remodeling can make it work for you. Bungalows are incredibly versatile, as are the skills of our professional designers and contractors. Together, we can create or renovate the bungalow of your dreams, so give us a call, and let’s talk about what’s possible. 

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