Exterior wood sidingI just realized that these 3 videos about old house, exterior wood siding were made by some of my favorite guys in the old home fix-it business. Each one of them is friendly, bright & they are all excellent teachers. An interesting thing about all 3 is that every one is a perfect gentlemen, treating everyone respectfully, listening attentively & graciously. I think they have absorbed the manners of earlier ages from being so well-attuned to old houses.

They approach teaching very differently from one another, though they all know that if a picture is worth 1,000 words, a video has to be worth at least 1,000,000!

You can read about Bob & John here, in my article about schools. Bob Yapp has run a school in Hannibal, Missouri, The Belvedere School for Hands-On Preservation since 2008. His students come from all over the U.S. & even Europe & Asia.

John Leeke is the OG of wood widow repair as well as general restoration & has been teaching & writing books for years. John & Bob both do consulting including remote consulting, advising homeowners on correct sequences, procedures & materials. Scott you will find here being a terrific resource for DIY’ers at every level.


Replacement Siding Is Nasty! (24:13)
About your House with Bob Yapp

Exterior Woodwork, Repair Split Clapboard (4:34)
John Leeke

Wood Siding Repair: How to Repair Cracks in Clapboard Siding, Part 1 (1:38)
My Old House Fix


I have a large number of informative old house videos on my YouTube playlists from scary tales of knob & tube to heartwarming stories of bungalow neighborhoods to the history of the Arts & Crafts Movement as it crossed the seas to America from England. So, if you want to know how the pro’s do it, or just pass an enjoyable afternoon eating popcorn in front of the computer, tune in!

And don’t forget the watch SAFETY FIRST!!!! There’s nothing sexier than PPE!


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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:

bungalow (noun)

: 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.


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.

What is a bungalow


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.

Gamble House


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.


Below are some images of homes with both Craftsman and Tudor elements, each with a description below:

Tudor Craftsman house

Craftsman bungalow with half timbering in the porch gable.

Tudor Craftsman House

The half timbering in this gable end is a strong character defining feature of this Craftsman bungalow.

Tudor Craftsman house

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.

Craftsman Tudor House

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.

Tudor house

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.

Preservation Resourece, inc. logoThis 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.

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The story of the Chicago bungalow isn’t about the houses, it’s about the humanity. I call it, “Grits & girdles history.”

Because our houses tell the stories of the lives of the people who built them & how they lived, worked & formed their communities- the intimate details if you will. (In fact, I produced a historic documentary film about a bungalow neighborhood in Tampa that was full of the juicy goings- on of the time.)

The Chicago bungalow may be the most striking example of regional uniqueness to be found in the United States, in terms of single-family housing. There is no mistaking a Chicago bungalow which has many character defining features that are simply not seen in other areas of the country because they do not provide the same history or environment.

These features were developed out of the events that happened in the city, the natural resources & challenges, the man-made materials & technology that were available in the area during the period of their planning & construction.


Craftsman farmThere were a great many influences that resulted in the Chicago bungalow, the first of course, being the Arts & Crafts Movement in England, a pushback against the overproduction of shoddy goods that characterized the Industrial Revolution.

The philosophy & design of the Movement were imported to the U.S. by Gustav Stickley, a furniture designer, writer & innovator. The Chicago bungalow veers wildly from Stickley’s ideal of a log cabin in the woods as they are built of brick & sit on a 125’-by-25’ lot in a city, which by 1910 was the home to over 2 million souls, the second largest in the United States, after New York. Not the low, wide structures of the American West on their expansive lawns, nor Stickley’s rock chimneyed log house in the woods, but bungalows they were-tidy compact brick muffins sitting prettily on the narrow city lots.

The Chicago bungalow provided exactly the modest refuge that was needed by the working class at the time, many of them immigrants, who had come to work in the factories & meat packing plants. Nearly 80,000 homes were built, each one with its own subtly distinctive charm & character.

The next great influence was the Chicago Fire of 1871, which started in a barn & burned for over a day, killing 300 people. Because of the pressure to build houses to accommodate the growing population, buildings had been constructed using quickly assembled, cheaply constructed balloon-framing, with studs running from the foundation to the roof. Fire travels upward & there was nothing to stop it as it roared up the walls & turned the houses to ash, making a third of the city homeless. After this disaster, the city enacted new building codes & rapidly rebuilt the city according to those codes. With brick.

When you think of a Chicago bungalow, brick does come instantly to mind. The area was gifted with an abundance of clay by the glaciers that moved through the area over 10,000 years ago leaving their assorted debris so the resultant, fired bricks are speckled in a variety of colors. To satisfy the demands of the building boom in 1910, nearly a billion of these cheap bricks were produced. When I say cheap I mean cheap, averaging $7 per thousand while the better, more homogenous brick sold for as high as $35 per thousand.

So, builders took advantage of this cheap brick & used it to build areas that were not so visible, like foundations, structural walls, chimney flues & the back & sides of the house. Because Chicago is centrally located & a railroad hub, it was easy to bring all types of brick from all over the country so the front facades of bungalows show a charming diversity of brick types.


The images that you see here are created by Wonder City Studio by Phil Thompson & his wife Katie who are obviously in love with their town. He has created many drawings of Chicago buildings of all types, including capturing the sweet, sturdy hominess of the bungalow.

He features prints of his representations of the city, but, he also does commissioned portraits of homes anywhere. When I lived in Eagle Rock we had plein air painters (an Eagle rock tradition, historically) lining the walking tour route, many painting the homes of the tour hosts. The paintings were then auctioned for charity at an exhibit later & the homeowners were always the highest bidders for the paintings of their own homes. A portrait captures the soul of a house much more eloquently than a photograph (well, than a photograph of a mere mortal. You have to allow for the work of Alex Vertikoff.)

But, wait, there’s more! Katie Lauffenburger, wife, mom & founding partner of Wonder City Studio, will sculpt a custom planter Mini-Me of your home. And you can put flowers in it!

Although we may dream of living in our homes forever, sometimes life necessitates change & having either a beautiful drawing or a tiny 3-D model of it could mend a broken heart.


What I can tell you about Chicago bungalows is a tiny fraction of the knowledge that the Chicago Bungalow Association posses & teaches. I just wanted to whet your appetite for this architectural form, unique in all the world to the Windy City.


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bungalow characteristics gableLet’s break down some bungalow characteristics to better understand what makes a bungalow, a bungalow. Character defining features, as further explained in the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation Projects is a term that means the way the visual & material aspects of a particular house style that set it apart from other styles.

My friend Jo-Anne Peck, of Preservation Resource, Inc., & Historic Shed, is a historic preservation professional with a degree in Building Science, a Master’s of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation & licensed Florida Building Contractor with over 25 years experience in preservation. She has kindly provided these photos & this information based her her vast knowledge of bungalow preservation. They are grouped according to how they appeared on Facebook & I will add more from her every month, in a new part.

I am creating this page so that when I am asked, “What is a bungalow?” I’ll be able to point to these pages & after a bit, you’ll just know.

The links are to our glossary of exterior bungalow terms. Please follow it if you see a term that might be unfamiliar to you.

Bungalow characteristics Folk Victorian


When someone says bungalow, we often first think of Craftsman style bungalows, but in reality, the term bungalow refers to the form of a house, not the style. Here is a Folk Victorian style bungalow with a hipped roof. I have to admit that I am partial to designs with a simple symmetry.

Here you can see some images of a more typical Folk Victorian.


Texture, rhythm, and details. I love how the trim surrounding the windows flares differently on each side of the casing to accommodate the 4 vents. And look at the great cut rafter tails! This house was built by a craftsman skilled at their trade.

Bungalow Characteristics


A gable dormer with shingle siding and divided lites with wavy glass. What more needs to be said?

Bungalow characteristics lattice


I know it’s a bit abnormal to get excited over foundation lattice, but I love when something so utilitarian and mundane is a design feature worthy of attention on its own. It’s a far cry from bright white plastic lattice, isn’t it?

Bungalow characteristics gable


One of the most common Craftsman bungalow forms is the front facing gable house with a separate, front facing gable porch. The porch is often 1/3, 1/2, or 2/3 the width of the house. Or, as in the case of this structure, the porch wraps around the side of the house, making the porch roof nearly the same width of the house front gable, but still providing a separate roofline.


Some homes are so rich in detail that you just have to stop and take a photo!

This house in Tampa, FL has a lot going on from the jerkinhead roofline, to the surplus of eave brackets, porch dentil trim, paired and triple columns on sturdy tapered brick piers, shingled gable, and so much more …

Bungalow characteristics porch


This bungalow has what is referred to as an integral porch, which means the roof is continuous over both the house and porch. It creates a clean, unfussy look and has no pesky transitions that can often be sources of potential leaks down the road. Shingle siding, exposed rafter tails and groups of 4 slender posts supporting the porch make for a lovely home.


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old growth wood houseFrom their framing to their siding to their doors & windows to their built-ins & their flooring, our old houses, are built of old growth wood. Thousands of board feet of it.

“Old growth.” What does that mean?

Let’s have a tree history lesson. Fossils show that the first tree-like plants, with vascular systems that transported water & nutrients, allowing the plants for the first time to rise up off the ground (Think moss.) & to form trunks & branches, developed 400 million years ago. Their evolution since then included the development of seeds & true woody stems.


Over 300 million years ago: The earliest conifers (i.e., cedar, fir, pine, redwoods & others) appear.
67 million years ago: Evidence of the first maple trees.
56 million years ago: Evidence of the first oak trees.

They continued to evolve & to create the great forests that covered most of America, generation after generation contributing to the next as they produced seeds, died & decayed, becoming part of the rich soil of the virgin woodland.


loggers cutting old growth woodLet’s start with the Redwood, one class being the oldest plants on earth, living from about 800 to 3,200 years. On the west coast, before they were chopped to build our houses, they played an important part in the lives of early indigenous peoples who revered them, building  structures from fallen trees. Native elder Minnie Reeves called them “a special gift from the Great Creator. Destroy these trees and you destroy the Creator’s love . . . and you will eventually destroy mankind.”

When California became a state in 1850, there were nearly 2 million acres of redwood forest. San Francisco was built twice with redwood, before & after the quake & fire of 1906. But the worst was yet to come. During the first half of the 20th Century when California experienced a major building boom, the redwood forest suffered its greatest losses, with trains of lumber heading south as trains of oranges headed north.

Going into the 21st Century, only 5 percent of the old growth forest still stood, thankfully protected on public lands.

In modern times, redwood farms produce wood for lumber, however, this new wood does not have the same high levels of toxic tannins, a type of bitter, astringent chemical compounds which protect the trees from fungus & insects & decrease its susceptibility to rot.

Selective cutting of young trees is permitted on redwood farms but these trees do not have enough age on them to acquire the decay & insect resistant properties of the old growth. If you want the original, old growth wood, you must buy it second-hand, salvaged from old buildings that some uninformed person has chosen to demolish.


The Douglas fir forests of the Northwest were treated just as casually. The timber industry, both logging & milling’ developed into a huge industry. The quantities were regarded as unlimited, if they were regarded at all in the push to maximize profit. As harvesting & transportation technologies developed, so did the quantity of forest land destruction increase.

It wasn’t until the 1880’s that conservation of timber supplies was considered. National forests were established & research into good forest practices began.


Clear cut forestThe Domesday Book of 1086, a survey ordered by William the Conqueror to record his holdings, indicated a forest cover of 15%,  By the start of the next millennium, this coverage had dropped to 5%.

In the 17th Century, as thousands of colonists arrived in the United States from England, they placed heavy demands on the forests taking huge trees, some hundreds of years old, of many species for lumber not only for building but also for fuel. Additionally, they cleared lands for agriculture & livestock.

Additionally, after the Industrial Revolution, potash, potassium carbonate derived from burned wood was in high demand in the colonies & in England where they had already decimated their forests. By the early 1800’s, the pre-revolutionary American colonies were providing England with more than 60% of its potash.

The construction boom after WW I, especially during the mid-1920’s, furthered reduced our forest resources. You can read about pine’s story, in the forests of the Eastern U.S.,  here.


old growth bungalow woodTrees are planted in man-made forests with the purpose of generating a large amount of product, fast. These farms do not replicate the ecology of the natural forest.  Generally they are one species only, & all the trees are planted at the same time. The trees are planted in rows spaced to allow maximum sunlight & water exposure so they grow very fast. The old forests allowed trees to grow slowly, putting on more tightly-packed growth rings

Because of this, new growth wood does not have the strength, stability nor the decay & insect repelling properties of old growth wood- not to mention the beauty. But. stick with me here. I have a theory about additional environmental factors that made the virgin forests a much better place for trees.

The conditions in the old forests had evolved over millions of years. Co-evolution is the evolving of all the parts of an ecosystem to assist each of its parts survive better. i.e., evolutionary change over time, benefiting each interacting member, usually involving different species. Tree farms lack this dynamic. They are the new  kids in school without a support system, not oriented to their environment, & growing in unnatural conditions.

The virgin forest is home to many tree species as well as hundreds of different insects, animals & microbes. All of these organisms have made reciprocal adaptive changes in cooperation with one or more other species, over the millennia, helping one another to survive with greater & greater efficiency.

Old growth forestMuch of this mutual adaptation involves microorganisms, the fungi that break down the fiber of the dead trees & turn them into nutritious soil, but also form a communication network for the trees. Watch this short video by National Geographic that explains how trees connect & share with one another.

Trees do not stand alone, competing with one another for sunlight, water & nutrients. Rather, the forest is almost like a single organism, the different trees interacting with one another, both within & outside their own species, through their roots & the fungal networks that connect these roots. They exchange communication & nutrients through this network, with the larger, old Mother trees forming the hubs. As an example, Douglas firs share excess sugars with the leafless birches in the spring & fall, & in return, the birches send sugars to the Douglas-firs in the summer, via the fungi underground.

Here’s my crazy theory. The health of the human body depends on the quantity & diversity of the microbes that live in the gut. To build a strong, healthy body, one needs a strong healthy microbiome- the colony of microorganisms within the body. This is a lovely short video of 2 Stanford researchers who have discovered much of what is known in this science. They have a big picture of bacteria over the fireplace in their home.

My hypothesis is that lumber from a tree grown in the virgin forest is better, stronger, more stable, more decay & insect resistant not just because it is old & bigger, but because it has grown up with a Mother, a family, neighbors & friends in the form of an active ecosystem that has had millions of years to get it right. “It’s not better because it’s old, it’s old because it’s better.”

What do you think?



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