What is a Bungalow? Common Features and History of Bungalow Architecture

Posted by Edmonton Homes.ca on Wednesday, July 6th, 2022 at 9:08am.

What Sets Bungalows Apart From Other Architecture Styles?

Bungalow-style homes have a variety of influences that range from Prairie and California styles to Craftsman and Chicago-inspired architecture. Many neighbourhoods throughout Canada feature these lovely properties, and they have a few defining characteristics that are distinctive within the interior and exterior of the home. Read on to discover a few of the most common elements of bungalow homes that make them so appealing to buyers today.

History & Stylistic Influences of Bungalows

What is now recognized as bungalow-style is a modification of the single-story huts typically found in 19th century India. The modernized style has advanced since first being used in Bengal to house English officers during the country's time under British occupation. They were typically small, economical, and low to the ground.

The earliest bungalows also had spacious porches that featured large awnings for cooling shade and minimal interior walls for adequate open space. First popularized in the U.S. after World War I, bungalow architecture was heavily influenced by the American Arts and Crafts movement, but there are five traditional bungalow designs overall today.

This building trend caught on in Canada around the 1920s but favoured a more traditional British revival style melded with the American Craftsman movement. Regardless of their influence stylistically, there are some staple features of bungalow homes.

Bungalows are often single-storey structures, but many also have a half-storey addition that can be turned into an office, fitness room, or an extra bedroom for guests or used as short-term rental space. These cozy homes are known for having expansive front porches, generous ornately styled windows, and columns to showcase their facade.

Common Exterior Features of Bungalow Homes

The exterior architecture of bungalows allows them to truly shine with several touches that offer curb appeal and complement their natural surroundings. Generally, bungalows tend to have Craftsman-inspired layouts, and because of their compact size, these homes are excellent for smaller-sized lots.

A dominating feature is the presence of low-sloping hipped or gabled roofs with distinctive angles that establish slanted walls amid the exteriors. These roofs have overhanging eaves that cover wide porches and the entire front of the home or wrap around them completely.

The porches of bungalows are almost always oversized and supported by complementing carved wooden pillars or tapered columns. Most owners opt to partially or fully enclose parts of their patio for additional privacy and protection from the elements for year-round enjoyment of their outdoor living space.

Another notable feature common in bungalow properties is large windows that allow for an abundance of natural light to grace the indoors. Casement windows are the most popular option on ground levels, which are easy to open and close for refreshing breezes on pleasant days.

Top-storey windows or those amid high walls let owners have options for curved, half windows and unique shapes during construction or new installation projects. Siding selections for bungalows are frequently crafted from natural materials sourced regionally.

The California Craftsman-style bungalows are often sided with stucco in Canada, while lapped shingles are standard on Western-style residences. However, brick-sided Chicago-style bungalows are the most common in Canada and withstand the elements rather well.

Architectural Features Inside Bungalows

Bungalows Often Have Open Floor PlansOverall, most bungalows are smaller and have two or three bedrooms, but some homes with half stories may have as many as five bedrooms. A bungalow's design contains fewer interior walls that lend themselves to open floor plans, making the entire home feel airy and larger.

Most bungalow housing plans allow rooms to connect directly, and hallways tend to be short if present at all. The open-air concept makes bungalows low maintenance and easier to clean than traditional single-family homes.

Bungalow architecture is very appealing for homebuyers looking to downsize and reduce clutter. Furthermore, the main living space is on the bottom floor, even in 1 1/2 story homes, making the layout very conducive for mobility concerns or small children.

What Are the Most Appealing Features of Bungalows?

In addition to being open and easily accessible throughout the interior to ease mobility and lighten household chores, bungalows have appealing features that make them an excellent asset for those at any stage of life. The single-storey floor plan also makes tasks like window and gutter cleaning much easier and less risky than multi-storey homes.

While lots can be small, most have spacious property surrounding them, offering occupants privacy. To enhance privacy with natural beauty, owners can generously landscape around the home with shrubs, foliage, and fencing, boosting curb appeal.

Another nice feature of bungalow homes is that they are generally easier to modify both inside and out. Rooms can be added with wall installations, and new additions to the bottom floor are straightforward compared to adding rooms to a second floor. Overall, these perks make bungalows one of Canada's most popular home styles.

How Common are Bungalows?

While single-family homes are the most popular home style across Canada, not all of those homes are bungalows. However, bungalows are still fairly common, especially in rural areas. Bungalows remain a popular home style choice because they are relatively affordable and are well-suited to many different lifestyles, thanks to the single-storey design and open floorplan. However, they are seen as an older style of home and aren't commonly built these days, so most bungalows on the market are going to be pre-owned homes rather than new construction.

Don't Overlook Bungalows When Home Shopping

While some may believe bungalows to be outdated, there is a strong resurgence in buyer interest in these simple and affordable homes across North America. Canadian home buyers looking to invest in a home for downsizing or rental property often consider bungalows. Many buyers are attracted to bungalow architecture and design due to their lower up-front costs, ease of maintenance, and reduced energy use.

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