I see it all the time on Facebook groups. Someone asks what the architectural style of their home is and someone comments, “It’s a bungalow.” And even if the statement is correct, the answer is wrong. That’s because the term bungalow does not reference an architectural style at all; it’s an architectural form, meaning the general shape of the building. And that form can come in a variety of architectural styles.
So what is a bungalow? Here’s the definition according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
: a one-storied house with a low-pitched roof
also : a house having one and a half stories and usually a front porch
And here is a definition from Google’s online dictionary:
a low house, with a broad front porch, having either no upper floor or upper rooms set in the roof, typically with dormer windows
As you can see, the definition is pretty broad and encompasses a lot of homes out there. And note that it does not reference architectural style at all – just the house form – so you can find bungalows in Folk Victorian, Prairie, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Minimal Traditional and other architectural styles, as well as bungalows with no formal style at all. You will also find wood framed bungalows, masonry bungalows, bungalows with siding, bungalows with stucco, bungalows with big porches, bungalows with small porches, etc. I will note, that although the definitions do not specify it, in general, a bungalow is generally agreed to be fairly small in size as well.
And speaking of definitions, check out our GLOSSARY
of bungalow terms.
WHAT IS A BUNGALOW? FORM VS STYLE
So, if you want to know if a house a bungalow, apply the simple definition or follow the oversimplified graphic below. Look at the shape of the house, not the column type, window style, or any other element that helps define the architectural style of a house and you should get your answer pretty easily.
So, let’s apply this to some homes of different architectural styles for a fun, nerdy exercise.
This Folk Victorian house is one story with a full width porch; however, it has a steep pitched roof which by some definitions would preclude it from being a bungalow. That said, the term “bungalow” originated from housing in India that had steeper pitched roofs, so I consider this a bungalow.
This Craftsman house ticks all the boxes to be called a bungalow with its one-story, low pitched roof and wide porch form.
This little Mission style house is one story, has a low pitched roof, but only a very small portico. I would still put it in the bungalow category as many definitions of a bungalow do not reference a porch.
This unusually styled house built in 1911 has a full two stories. Therefore, it is not a bungalow, but I love it anyway!
This Craftsman house is 1-1/2 stories, which means the second level is under the roof rather that a full 2nd story on its own. It has a moderately low pitched roof and a full width porch. This is definitely a bungalow.
This Craftsman house is a variation of the bungalow form known as an Airplane bungalow. In this house type, there is a small second floor perched over the house, much like a cockpit in an older style plane.
The Craftsman/ Bungalow Confusion
This is where people tend to get the most confused since the phrase Craftsman Bungalow is used together so often. The association comes from the reality that many Craftsman style homes are in the form of a bungalow. In fact, you can find entire neighborhoods that consist almost entirely of Craftsman bungalows. But you can have a bungalow that is not Craftsman style. And you can have a Craftsman style home that is not a bungalow.
The exquisite Gamble House is a perfect example of a Craftsman house that is not a bungalow. The house is considered to be the epitome of Craftsman styling but does not meet the criteria of the bungalow form, as it has three rambling stories.
This article was written by Jo-Anne Peck of Preservation Resource, Inc. & Historic Shed. Jo-Anne is a historic preservation professional with a degree in Building Science, a Master’s of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation & a licensed Florida Building Contractor with over 25 years experience in preservation. She has kindly provided these photos & this information based on her vast knowledge of bungalows.
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There are a lot of styles with crossover elements that can make them confusing to classify (and sometimes make architectural historians argue). Craftsman (1905-1930) and Tudor Revival (1890-1940) are two house styles that were popular around the same time period in the U.S., and you see elements of each in many homes since both styles “express the structure” in their design.
The most common crossover design element creating a Tudor/ Craftsman house connection is half-timbering, which is the exposed structure found in historic Tudor homes in Great Britain. This design element it can be found on many Craftsman style homes, although often as a faux version rather than actual structural components. Craftsman elements like brackets and wide eaves can also find their way into Tudor Revival homes. When classifying one or the other, the immediately noticeable difference is in the roof slope: Tudor Revival homes have a steep roof pitch while Craftsman homes have a lower roof pitch. Another distinction is that Craftsman homes have wide eaves and Tudor Revival commonly have little to no eave overhang. You can see some examples of Craftsman details here.
SOME EXAMPLES OF THE TUDOR CRAFTSMAN HOUSE CONNECTION
Below are some images of homes with both Craftsman and Tudor elements, each with a description below:
Craftsman bungalow with half timbering in the porch gable.
The half timbering in this gable end is a strong character defining feature of this Craftsman bungalow.
Craftsman bungalow with Tudor influenced gable ornament. This one has a steeper roof than many Craftsman homes, but I would still classify it as more Craftsman than Tudor Revival with wide eaves supported by eave brackets and beefy square columns.
Tudor Revival home (note the steep main roof) with Craftsman style eave brackets and wide overhangs. I apologize for the wonky photo – just pretend I was being artsy and not clutzy.
This little gem is a wonderful example of Tudor Revival with half timbering, but also has wider eaves than many of the style, with outriggers to support them.
This article was written by Jo-Anne Peck of Preservation Resource, Inc. & Historic Shed. Jo-Anne is a historic preservation professional with a degree in Building Science, a Master’s of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation & a licensed Florida Building Contractor with over 25 years experience in preservation. She has kindly provided these photos & this information based her vast knowledge of bungalows.
STAY IN THE BUNGALOW KNOW!!! Sign up for our newsletter & receive our FREE E-book, 7 VITAL Things to Do Before You Hire a Contractor.