Column: Oh how we love the Bungalow


Its official…Americans are in love with the unassuming bungalow.

If you need proof, simply stroll the streets of Old Town Carmel and you will see that Old Town Design Group has been quite busy for the past few year replacing tired structures that had served their families well but have passed their prime with updated versions of this architectural icon.

The Bungalow, the undeniable sweetheart of the Craftsman movement, boasts of early days providing shelter from the scorching rays of the sun for travelers in India. This humble architecture was adopted by 19th century British officers that were stationed in India and eventually migrated to the United States via California in the early 1900’s.

This symbol of simplicity became the most sought after construction style in the early 20th century. According to the Arts and Crafts Society on-line newsletter, the bungalow was born in the United States as “a backlash to the Industrial Revolution by philosophers and designers begun first in England, then migrating across the Atlantic to the US. The bungalow was the architectural expression of art pottery and mission-style furniture with which it is now so closely associated.”

It is hard to comprehend these numbers today but prior to World War I, a potential homeowner wishing to build a Craftsman abode would expect to pay less than $1,000 for a completed structure. Although building plans were abundant in catalogs, post war bungalows could actually be purchased by mail order and the components shipped by rail where they would be assembled on site.

Characteristics that identify these historical charmers are low pitched roof that are hipped or gabled.

The bungalow typically features a large front porch that is covered overhead. This characteristic demonstrates how the style evolved from 19th century life under the rays of the hot Bengal sun.

These large overhanging porch roofs are supported by large columns…one of the most identifiable features of the bungalow.

The following characteristics are typically found in some combination on most craftsman-derived bungalows:

While the bungalow might have a half story above the main floor, it typically was designed with an open floor plan that featured a front door that lead directly into the living area. Space is utilized to its fullest in a bungalow.

Also, a bungalow will typically be filled with sunlight due to the abundance of windows and doors leading to exterior porches.

Historically, the bungalow would feature a large fireplace flanked by straight lined cabinetry and shelves. These clean lines were a hallmark of the Craftsmen movement.

The desire for quality craftsmen type work led to the simple adornments of beamed ceilings and wainscoting.

Yes, American’s love the bungalow. Perhaps it is our form of a backlash to the disposable mentality that we have become accustomed to in our homes and furnishings. Perhaps we are on the path to a more enduring approach to our buying habits where quality will be considered. I sincerely hope so.

Vicky Earley

Vicky Earley is the principal designer for Artichoke Designs located in downtown Carmel. If you have an interior design question, please contact

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