The Lasting Appeal of a Bungalow

by : Anne Eliason

Bungalow-style homes are popular around the world because they're so adaptable - they work just as well in luxury planned communities as in affordable urban areas, often with little or no change to the floor plan. With so many possible uses, Bungalows will likely be one of the 21st century's enduring home styles, just as they were throughout the 20th century.

Unlike other building styles that can be seen in commercial and industrial settings, Bungalow architecture was developed solely for homes. The style originated in India, where homes built with a wide veranda were referred to as Bengali, an elliptical phrase for a "house in the Bengal style." Traditionally, these homes were built with thatched roofs and bamboo framing, and were often occupied by large families. Indian Bungalows usually occupy one or one and a half stories, and are often seen as a status symbol. The simple, elegant design of these homes makes them a pleasure to live in as well. British colonialists also popularized Bungalows in Singapore and Malaysia during the early 20th century.

Modern bungalows can look quite different than traditional ones, although the basic idea is the same. These homes accommodate their owners with a minimum of excess, affording well-planned living spaces and ease-of-movement between rooms. Bungalows typically face the street with a large elevated porch and overhanging roof extending several meters beyond the main house. Other sections of bungalows are also often shaded by an overhang, giving these homes a cozy, sheltered appearance loosely resembling French Creole architecture - this similarity makes sense, as both styles originated in warm, humid climates with high seasonal rainfall and occasional flooding. With their large roofs and porches, bungalows (like French Creole homes) tend to have a larger footprint than most two story buildings, and cost more per square foot to build.

In America, several distinct styles of bungalows, usually tied to a particular region or city, have developed over the past 100 years. Chicago, for example, saw a boom in bungalow construction between 1910 and 1940, quickly giving rise to a Chicago style featuring brick construction (sometimes in decorative patterns), a hipped roof, and a long, narrow floor plan. California bungalows, by contrast, usually had a wider floor plan fronted by a large pillared porch, and a standard roof. Both styles typically included a small second floor with a dormer window.

Bungalow construction slowed in favor of ranch homes during the mid-20th century, but the style has resurfaced in recent years, particularly in golf and man-made lake communities. Golf course bungalows usually occupy just one story, and afford more privacy than larger, more open home styles.