What is a Bungalow House? 5 Common Traits of Bungalow Style Houses

What are the Common Characteristics of Bungalow Homes?

Bungalow-style homes boast a blend of timeless beauty and practical, rustic charm. But what sets a bungalow apart from other home styles?

Let’s dive into the common characteristics that define bungalows, shedding light on their enduring popularity in the realm of home design. If you’re considering buying a bungalow yourself, here’s how to easily spot a bungalow in the home listings:

A Quick History of the Bungalow

Despite their popularity throughout North America, the bungalow style originated in the Bengal region of India. Under British rule of India, British ambassadors, officers, and travelers had small, economical houses built for them. These homes were built in the local style, which was long, low, and had broad, overhanging eaves over wide verandahs. The speed and affordability with which these homes could be built caught on among home builders in the UK, United States, and Canada.

The name comes from countless English derivations of the Hindi word for “a Bengali-style house” going as far back as the mid-17th century, including “bangla,” “bungales,” and “bengala” among many others. The “bungalow” spelling became the accepted English standard by the early 1800s. The popularity of these homes turned “bungalow” into a buzzword applied to all kinds of homes, which muddied its essential characteristics—in England in the 1800s, it could even mean a large, high-status coastal vacation home using “bungalow” for the exotic connotation, virtually the opposite of the bungalow as we know it today.

So what defines the modern bungalow as we know it today?

Low-Pitched Roofs

An essential characteristic of the bungalow is the low-pitched roof. These roofs, with slopes of less than 45 degrees, offer both aesthetic and practical advantages. Visually, the low pitch seamlessly blends the house with its natural surroundings, creating a harmonious and balanced appearance. Unlike steeply pitched roofs that dominate the skyline, a low-pitched roof presents a more modest and discreet architectural style.

In addition to its visual appeal, the low-pitched roof offers practical benefits. The gradual slope enhances wind resistance and improves the home's stability during storms. Moreover, the low pitch contributes to improved heat retention by minimizing the air space between the roof and the ceiling, improving HVAC efficiency. This energy-efficient feature helps maintain a cozy and warm atmosphere inside the bungalow-style home.

Furthermore, accessing the roof for repairs and cleaning becomes easier due to the lower slope. This practical advantage simplifies routine maintenance tasks and ensures the longevity of the roof.

Spacious Front Porches

Bungalows Often Have Front Porches to Enjoy

Spacious front porches are a defining feature of bungalow-style architecture, providing ample room for relaxation and socializing. These porches serve as an extension of the living space, offering a welcoming entrance to the home and creating a seamless transition between indoors and outdoors.

In addition to the aesthetic appeal, bungalow front porches add practicality.  As part of the appeal and charm of these homes is their small size, the extra square footage of the porch is also a low-maintenance way to get some extra room. With their generous size, bungalow front porches allow homeowners to create comfortable seating arrangements, perfect for enjoying the fresh air and connecting with family and friends. The covered overhead structure provides protection from the elements, allowing residents to enjoy the porch regardless of weather conditions.

Additionally, the low railings or balustrades commonly found on bungalow front porches allow for a feeling of a defined space while still giving unobstructed views of the surrounding neighbourhood. A front porch with these features helps offer a sense of community and promotes interactions with neighbors, while also adding character and style to the overall design.

Craftsman-Style Architecture

As the bungalow style migrated to North America, it met its perfect matches in the Arts & Crafts movement and the Craftsman home style. You might even see “bungalow” and “Craftsman” used interchangeably to refer to this style of home. Craftsman-style homes are renowned for their rustic charm and embrace the use of natural materials, such as wood and stone, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere.

The exterior of a Craftsman bungalow typically features a gently sloping roof with broad eaves that extend outwards, showcasing the structural rafters. Often, you’ll see decorative brackets as well. A prominent porch, supported by tapered or square pillars, adds to the solid and grounded presence of the house.

Craftsman homes are thoughtfully designed to optimize living space and functionality. The layout often incorporates open living and dining areas, seamlessly merging them together. Built-in amenities, like shelving and window seating, are commonly found in these homes. Abundant windows allow for an influx of natural light, a vital aspect of Craftsman design, which is emphasized in the interior décor. Expect to see wood trim, crown molding, hardwood floors, and other wooden detailing.

Overall, Craftsman-style architecture fosters an environment that is both comfortable and visually pleasing, blending a sense of homey comfort and natural elements with elegant craftsmanship.

Open, Single-Storey Floor Plans

One distinct characteristic of bungalow-style architecture is the use of open, single-storey floor plans. Some styles of bungalow, such as the California style, may incorporate an extra half-storey hidden under the roof or showing as dormers. However, in Canada and the UK, bungalows almost exclusively refer to one-storey dwellings.

With the small size of the bungalow, open floor plans allow homeowners to maximize their space. They also improve the flow of the home by minimizing visual obstructions. This creates a sense of continuity and cohesion, while also imparting a feeling of spaciousness, thanks to the abundant natural light that enters through the windows.

The open layout and lack of stairs also facilitates effortless navigation and accessibility, making it an ideal choice for individuals with mobility challenges. Furthermore, these floor plans are suitable for individuals of all age groups, as they cater to both affordable starter homes and aging-in-place. The small size also makes them popular for downsizing and minimizing home maintenance.

Enjoy the Coziness of a Craftsman Bungalow

The Craftsman bungalow is a very recognizable style of home architecture, and one that has had a long stay in the spotlight. Their distinctive features contribute to their charm and functionality, creating a comfortable and inviting living space with a practical layout. What’s more, these homes make maintenance easy by their very design, which is always a perk. After just a few minutes of exploring neighbourhoods with bungalows, you’ll soon see the appeal of this classic home style.

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