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American Bungalow Architecture


Bungalow Houses in Hollywood Hills an Architectural Overview

The ubiquitous, iconic American Bungalow house had its origins in Bengal, India, where one-story, thatched-roof houses were called bangala. The British who ruled India between 1858 and 1947 adopted the style for housing for British officials and retreat homes for wealthy colonists. Bungalow houses have very space-efficient floor plans, with a central living area, and dining room, kitchen, bedrooms, and bathroom arranged around it. The style likely drew additional inspiration from rural English cottages and Army tents.

When the Bungalow Style reached the United States, it was adapted and refined by the Arts and Crafts movement, incorporating elements that were elegant yet plain, using locally handcrafted natural materials like wood, glass, and metal work. The movement’s name American Craftsman came from the magazine The Craftsman, which was founded in 1901 by Gustav Stickley and featured original house and furniture designs that were influenced by American styles and emphasized the originality of the artists and craftsmen.

IMG_3545The spare, clean lines of Bungalow structures were a reaction against the ornate luxury of Victorian architecture, and an embrace of the trend toward mass-produced housing. In fact, Bungalows grew so wildly popular that people could purchase a house by mail for $900 from companies like Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck & Co. The houses were pre-cut in factories then shipped out, and local carpenters put them together on site. From 1908 to 1940, Sears sold more than 70,000 houses through the mail.

In 1879, William Gibbons Preston designed an elaborate two-story house with an informal, resort-inspired architectural style, on Cape Cod, Massachusetts in the United States and called it a bungalow. Then, in the early 1890s, San Francisco architect A. Page Brown refined the style, and it became wildly popular in California, across the United States, and around the world.

Today, the American Bungalow Style is one of the most widely available options for homes in Hollywood Hills. Many Bungalow house designs were influenced by the Craftsman style; others show touches of Shaker, Mission Revival, or Anglo-Japanese styles. Despite these variations, there are certain characteristics that make the Bungalow Style distinctive.


Characteristics of the American Bungalow Style

American Bungalow Style houses are characteristically horizontally oriented and one story tall. A variation called the “Airplane Bungalow” has a second half-story centered atop the building, so called because it looks like an airplane cockpit. Bungalows are constructed of a mixture of materials, including hand-crafted woodwork and stone masonry. The typical California-style Bungalow is designed to be integrated with the site, using natural local goods.


The roof lines are low-pitched and sloping, with tapered, square support columns, and deeply overhanging eaves with exposed rafters or decorative brackets under them, and often a gable, or an attic vent created to look like one. The roof then extends to continue as the covering for the classic Bungalow porch or veranda, which is usually not quite as wide as the house, but is rather spacious, to accommodate comfortable outdoor living. In later years, the porches were often enclosed as a response to increased noise on the city streets.

bungalow heaven 007Bungalows exteriors are typically made from stucco, horizontal siding, or wood shingles, and feature brick or stone exterior chimneys. Brick bungalows are often found in Chicago and other areas with inclement weather, but a brick exterior is not common in a typical California bungalow.

One of the most important characteristics of the American Bungalow Style is the efficient one-story floor plan, with the living room in the center surrounded by adjoining rooms that are directly adjacent rather than connected by hallways.