A bungalow house is one of the hottest types of homes on the market today. What is a bungalow exactly, you might ask? Most people know it as a small one- or one-and-a-half-story house with a covered front porch.
But the concepts and intent of a bungalow home are much more complex. Its design –and popularity – are rooted in the idea that simplicity and artistry can combine into an affordable home. This made them wildly popular. To this day, bungalow house plans remain very desirable. In fact, the exterior features of craftsman-style homes, like tapered pillars and a sloping roof, make them iconic. That said, not all bungalows have all the features.
According to American Bungalow Magazine, these houses gave average people of modest means a way to afford respectable homes that were stylish and well built. Essentially, the bungalow house was the achievement of the American dream, writes the magazine.
While it might have been the embodiment of the American housing dream, oddly, the name comes from a Hindustani word, says Antique Home. Small “bangla” huts were used for travelers in that country. During British rule, the English took the style and adapted it to create permanent residences, that included covered verandas and open floor plans.
What Are The Different Types Of Bungalows?
Bungalow refers to a specific type of structure, but there are also different types of bungalow style houses. These can have common features.
- A craftsman bungalow is the classic bungalow most people think of.
- A California bungalow is similar, with a single-story, porch and sloping roof.
- Chicago bungalows are single-family homes. While they have a low-pitched roof with overhanging eves, Chicago bungalows also feature a full basement and wide window bay.
- Tudor bungalows combine the classic features with Tudor details like half-timbering and a more steeply pitched roof.
- A Prairie school-style bungalow has dominant horizontal lines of narrow windows.
Characteristics of a Bungalow House
We’ve already mentioned that these house plans are typically one or one-and-a-half stories high. That said, the range of designs that call themselves bungalows has grown over the years, for better or worse. Of course, there are some hallmark characteristics of bungalows that define them.
This 1921 American bungalow home in Houston, Texas was renovated to feature some of the in-demand Craftsman bungalow-style details on the front facade. These include the columns and knee braces as well as the brick construction for the base. Window styles are also particular but casement windows are common too.
Designed by Marie Flanigan Interiors, the updated space included some expansions for liveability. The full-width porch is spacious and enhances the compact interior by adding outdoor space.
A Low Profile
This is the true distinction of a bungalow house. Typically the floor is raised up and front steps are needed. The main idea was to get all the living space on the main floor, which makes these types of house plans easier to build, says American Bungalow.
When these homes were becoming popular, the American Craftsman movement was gaining steam as a backlash to industrial production. So, many bungalows were also arts and crafts style.
The big distinction between Craftsman bungalow style and generic bungalows is the level of detail and workmanship, according to Antique Home. That said, there are also other types such as the Chicago bungalows and Tudor bungalows. There’s also the California bungalow.
Of course, the “kit” home manufactured by companies like Sears was a bungalow-style house, but of the generic type. These kits were popular because they were affordable and easy to build.
Open Floor Plan
The word bungalow conjures up floor plans that are very efficient with space. Some interior characteristics of bungalows are small closets and built-in cabinets and shelving. The half stories may not have closets either. The smaller size makes them ideal for couples, singles, and those who want to downsize. However, this is also what diminished their popularity when larger homes came into vogue.
Now that homeowners want more efficient homes with a smaller footprint – and less maintenance – it’s logical that demand is resurging.
An updated California bungalow-style house in Coronado has more of a cozy, contemporary feel than a traditional type, but still exudes charm aplenty. Renovated by QualCraft and originally built in the 1940s, the interior has lots of period details with modern, smart home features hidden underneath.
The backyard has plenty of private space while the porch also has a wide section ideal for seating.
According to Antique Home, low-pitched roofs are characteristic of this architectural style. They can be gabled roofs or hipped roofs. Bungalows also typically feature deep overhanging eaves and may or may not have exposed rafters. The larger overhangs help shield the house from direct sunlight. These overhangs also give bungalow homes porch roofs and allow for a half story more height.
Along with the low-pitched sloping roof, one of the defining characteristics of a bungalow home is the triangular knee brace that joins the roof to the façade. According to Wentworth Design, these decorative braces were meant to suggest that the beams supporting the roof rafters extended out.
Essential Large Front Porch
Probably the most well-known feature that defines what is a bungalow is its large porch. In fact, in its article “Bungalow: Small House Big Porch,” Architecture Magazine calls this the defining design feature of this architectural style.
In a way, bungalows were ahead of their time. Today’s home preferences include features that bring the outside in. That’s exactly what the covered front porch on a bungalow home does. Essentially, the overhanging eaves of the house create porch roofs.
A big porch on a small house might seem out of place. But, the Bungalow Company writes that:
“When built onto a small house, a porch needs to serve as additional living space in order to justify its use of the limited square footage.”
Bungalows and craftsman-style homes often have a fireplace as the focal point in the living area. Most bungalow homes have flat chimneys located at the side of the house. Elaborate chimneys would interfere with the overall look of the bungalow roofline, so they typically have flat chimneys instead.
Advantages Of Bungalows
Located on Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia, this beach town bungalow home is named Surf Puppy. The 1950s home has been fully renovated and decorated.
This house is a rental property and has some of the features that characterize bungalow homes. The open-plan space living room is ideal for a vacation community because it leaves plenty of time for leisure pursuits. It also has plenty of natural light despite its compact size.
Although gabled roofs are usually part of the profile, this particular bungalow house plan does not have one. It also does not have a large porch.
A street lined with bungalow homes offers homeowners a good deal of privacy. Thanks to their low profile, AntiqueHome.org says that well-placed plants and shrubs shield the narrow windows from view. The smaller footprint often leaves more space around the sides of the home and it does not share a wall with anyone like a townhouse.
Great for Older adults
Having all the main space on a single story defines what is a bungalow home and makes it great for older adults or those who have mobility issues. Many older people end up living in homes where they can no longer access the second floor, meaning that much of their homes are unused.
Bungalow homes gave birth to the open-plan space, unlike a traditional colonial or Victorian-style home with its intricate design work. Today’s preferences for spacious, open floor plans make many bungalows a very popular choice.
Families that have young children appreciate having all the communal space on one floor in an open plan. Stairs to a second story can be a hazard for youngsters, so choosing a bungalow layout is an ideal option.
Room for More
One-story bungalow homes are usually on generous lots, so there’s room for improvement and expansion. If homeowners need more space, it’s possible to add on – or up – for more bedrooms or living space.
Bungalow houses are always in high demand. Bungalow style is a great choice if you want to be sure a home will sell. This is especially true as millennials look for smaller homes. Plus, older adults are downsizing from larger family homes.
Disadvantages of Living in a Bungalow
This renovated home started from an original bungalow that was only 850 square feet and was built in the 1940’s. Bay Street Bungalows totally transformed the abandoned Charlotte, North Carolina house. The designers added 1,000 square feet to the back of the house.
This made it a contemporary open-plan home with modern conveniences and plenty of craftsman detailing. While many bungalow houses need a lot of renovation, results like this can be spectacular. On the exterior of this bungalow home, the color highlights the contrasting wall materials used for the wall cladding.
Can You Even Find One?
While their popularity might make them easy to sell, this single-story home can also be hard to find. Bungalow house plans also carry a premium price. In hot housing markets, sales prices are often far above the asking price. Depending on where you live, you might have to pay more – assuming you find a bungalow-style home.
Some people feel that they get more space when buying a house instead of a bungalow. Because bungalows are smaller and more popular, homeowners often pay a higher price per square foot. This is despite the lot being the same size as it would be for a regular house.
Too Much Togetherness
A smaller single-story house from the era of the arts and crafts movement can be challenging for families. There’s noise, clutter and a lack of division between the living area and the sleeping spaces. Moreover, the bathrooms are also close to both the living room and bedrooms. Families can find a bungalow’s more compact square footage a challenge if anyone wants more privacy.
Dated Interior Design
Just like any home sold by long-time residents, bungalow houses might need major upgrades. People who buy bungalows love them and tend to stay put. In addition, they’re popular with older adults because of their single-level design. This means not all bungalows meet today’s expectations even with all the natural materials inside.
If you’re shopping for a bungalow-style house, you might need to have a healthy renovation budget.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
What makes a house a bungalow?
A bungalow-style house generally is a one or one-and-a-half-story structure. These homes have a low-pitched, sloped roof. Defining characteristics include dormer windows and a front porch or veranda with overhanging eaves. Many have brick construction or stone for the porch and flat chimneys instead of elaborate chimneys.
Bungalows are small in square footage compared to the average home. They are common in urban areas and not as popular in rural areas. The interiors typically include lots of natural materials like wood or stone.
What is the difference between bungalow and craftsman home?
Most people use “craftsman” and “bungalow” interchangeably but there is a difference. The term “Craftsman” relates to the Arts and Crafts movement. Craftsman is also an interior style as well as an architectural style. Otherwise, the term bungalow describes the structure and layout in general
Why is it called a bungalow?
The word bungalow comes from India. It’s rooted in a Hindustani word meaning “a house in the Bengali style.” It became common in English during the era of British rule over India.
Are bungalows hard to sell?
True bungalows are very popular and will hold or increase their value. This is because older homeowners are looking to downsize and first-time homebuyers love them. On the other hand, the tide could turn if downsizing becomes less popular and bungalow floor plans lose popularity.
Bungalows are a hot commodity for many reasons. Overall, people love these craftsman-style homes for their compact size, iconic features and open floor plan. There are many pros to choosing a bungalow house and great resale demand is just the start. Interior details and frequent craftsman features are definite plusses.
Some may see the disadvantages in a smaller space with an older style and want more privacy. Nonetheless, bungalows are still among the most coveted houses and will endure thanks to their architectural history.