There are few buildings that have the romanticized image of an artistic retreat than that of the bungalow. Perhaps a New York City loft, but my money’s still on the bungalow. Small and dense, rooms wrapped around each other like a protective cocoon to allow the occupant the time and safety to express his (or her) innermost secrets in the form of art.
If you’re not an artist, you’re not allowed to own a bungalow. In certain cultures, you’re not even allowed to be in the same neighborhood as a bungalow without being able to present a portfolio of passable works or they’ll make you do the Truffle Shuffle (from the Goonies) in public.
But seriously, bungalows will always have a special feel for me, personally. They’re so much more intimate than the large Victorian-era houses we’ve been talking about up to this point. And for a time, you couldn’t read modern literature without the main character struggling to find themselves while living in a cozy, dark bungalow packed with artifacts of years gone by.
Well, that’s enough of me waxing poetic. Bungalows have been around since the 1600s, where they were used to describe the little hovels English sailors of the East India Company used while in India. They were pretty horrible, hence the word “hovel.” They’ve been elsewhere since, usually denoting the type of cottages we’re used to seeing, or as tourist housing.
They were ridiculously popular here in the States, right after World War I. The lower middle class were moving out of apartments in literal droves, out to private houses. And these bungalows could be built for the small price of $3500 (amounts to about $38,000 now). The design was spread by mail-order plans and the buildings could actually be purchased precut from some firms. They were practically DIY.
There are a handful of variations of the standard bungalow, but they all essentially boil down to the same collection of traits. One to one-and-a-half stories, long, low roofs that top the squat little buildings, and either a gable or an attic vent that mimics one. Usually wood or stucco (or siding, if that’s your thing), with some brick being common. And the ubiquitous porch. Always a porch. If it doesn’t have a porch, it ain’t a bungalow.
As I said before, the interiors were a study in coziness. Usually hitting the living room directly from the front door, there would sometimes be a large opening from it to a dining room. The ceilings were low, and for some bungalows, because of the surrounding porch, the interiors were dark, even during the day. The upper floor, if there was one, usually contained a bedroom or two.
For some, I don’t know, maybe this seems like a dark prison. But for others, a lot of others, this was or is the definition of home. Bungalows were so popular for the 20 or so years right after WWI that most cities have what’s called a “Bungalow Belt,” where almost every building for miles is one of these great, if small, homes.
If you’re interested in one of these plans, we’d be more than happy to accommodate you. And if you’re not an artist, that’s ok. We won’t tell the Bungalow Police. Contact us at:
Home Designing Service, Ltd
25 Meadows Rd.
Windsor, Connecticut 06095