- Usually 1 – 1 1/2 stories
- Low-pitched roof, often with broad eaves
- Entry typically opens directly into living room
- Often has a large front porch that creates an outdoor room
- Easy access to outdoor spaces like verandas, porches, and patios
- Open floor plan maximized for efficiency and flow from room to room with minimal space wasted on hallways
- Often small with reliance on built-ins for organization
- Siding varies. Stucco is the siding of choice for many California-style Craftsman bungalows. Western-style are typically more rustic with shingle or lapped siding, and Chicago-style bungalows are frequently brick.
What is a bungalow?
Blurring the definition are some who describe any small house built from 1900 to about 1950 as a bungalow. They may call them Spanish or English bungalows regardless of whether or not they have any true bungalow characteristics.
For a extra insight into the origins of American bungalow architecture, see Chapter 1 from The Bungalow Book by Charles White (White, 1923). In his book, White describes a number of bungalows including Middle-Western (aka Prairie), Spanish, and others. For him, it is the floor plan that qualifies the bungalow, not its exterior style or ornament and certainly that makes some sense. There is a commitment to efficiency and flow that characterizes a bungalow, in his view.
For our purposes here, we will generally use a more historical definition that also coincides with the popular, widely used connotation. The original Indian word "bangla" was a small thatched hut for wayfarers. During the British colonial occupation of India in the 19th century, the English adapted the concept to their needs by designing one-story houses with wide, covered verandas and an open floor plan to facilitate cross-ventilation and protection in the hot, dusty Indian climate.
The types of bungalows following that definition include the California or Western-style and the Arts & Crafts or Craftsman-style. Certain other subtypes are particularly distinctive and include the Swiss Chalet and Airplane bungalows. Often characteristics are a mashup of influences which contributes to the almost infinite variety of design details.