What is a bungalow? For most people, the word conjures up a picture of a cozy little cottage out in the country somewhere. A weekend getaway, tucked among the flora and fauna. While this may be the case, the most basic definition of a bungalow is a house that is one to one-and-a-half stories. It is often associated with the Arts and Crafts movement because of the tendency of both to emphasis nature and hominess, but a bungalow can be in any style. Some people stretch the definition to include houses that are two stories, but let’s stick to the one to one-and-a-half stories definition that is most accepted. Bungalows are not vertical, striving to keep things low to the ground. Placing everything on one level simplified the building process and made the interior easier to navigate as well. Let’s clear up the misconception that bungalows are small. They can be, and mostly are, certainly, but they can also sprawl across the land. The parameters of the bungalow are defined by the space available. Again, the most basic definition for a bungalow is predicated on the housing having one to one-and-a-half stories. It says nothing about how wide the house can be.
The bungalow started in India before being taken by the colonizing Brits to other parts of the British Empire. In this country, the bungalow symbolized respectability and started in the East. It made its way west, eventually reaching California—where everybody wanted to live. The bungalow was a perfect match for the Californian lifestyle. The bungalow concept spread throughout the country. The popularity of bungalows has ebbed and flowed over the years. It was overwhelmingly popular at the end of the last century into the 1930’s—mostly because they are small, cozy, and easy to manage. For people moving out of rental housing, the bungalow was the perfect home to buy. It wasn’t cheap, by any means, but most middle-class families could afford one. Gustav Stickley, from the Arts and Crafts movement, was a great champion of the bungalow as he saw it as a natural complement to his beloved naturalism.