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 roofalso : a house having one and a half stories and usually a front porch
a low house, with a broad front porch, having either no upper floor or upper rooms set in the roof, typically with dormer windows
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.
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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