A bungalow is a type of house, with varying meanings across the world. Common features to many (but not all) of these definitions include being detached, low-rise (single or one-and-a-half stories), and the use of verandahs. The term originated in India, deriving from the Gujarati બંગલો baṅgalo, which in turn derives from Hindi बंगला baṅglā, meaning “Bengali” and used elliptically for a “house in the Bengal style”. Such houses were traditionally small, only one story and detached, and had a wide veranda.
The term was first found in English from 1696, where it was used to describe “bungales or hovells” in India for English sailors of the East India Company, which do not sound like very grand lodgings. Later it became used for the spacious homes or official lodgings of officials of the British Raj, and was so known in Britain and later America, where it initially had high status and exotic connotations, and began to be used in the late 19th century for large country or suburban houses built in an Arts and Crafts or other Western vernacular style—essentially as large cottages, a term also sometimes used. Later developers began to use the term for smaller houses. In Australia, the California bungalow was popular after the First World War. In Britain and North America a bungalow today is a residential house, normally detached, which is either single story, or has a second story built into a sloping roof, usually with dormer windows (“one and a half stories”). Full vertical walls are therefore only seen on one story, at least on the front and rear elevations. Usually the houses are relatively small, especially from recent decades, though early examples may be large, in which case the term bungalow tends not to be used today.
The American Craftsman style has its origins from the British Arts and Crafts movement which began as a philosophy and artistic style founded by William Morrisearlier in the 1860s. The British movement was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, with its disregard for the individual worker and degradation of the dignity of human labor. Seeking to ennoble the craftsman once again, the movement emphasized the hand-made over the mass-produced.
While the British movement was a response to the Victorian, the Arts and Crafts style’s arrival in the United States was precisely at the moment when the Victorian era was coming to a close. The American Arts and Crafts Movement did share the philosophy of the reform movement and encouraged originality, simplicity of form, local natural materials, and the visibility of handicraft. It was distinguished by being concerned with ennobling the modest homes of the rapidly expanding American middle class, which became the Craftsman Bungalow style.
They succeeded in opening the first American Arts and Crafts Exhibition in April 1897 at Copley Hall, featuring over 1000 objects made by 160 craftsmen, half of whom were craftswomen. Some of the exhibit’s supporters included: the founder of Harvard’s School of Architecture, Langford Warren; social reformers Mrs. Richard Morris Hunt, Arthur Astor Carey, and Edwin Mead; and graphic designer Will Bradley.
The exhibition’s success led to the formation of The Society of Arts and Crafts in June 1897, with a mandate to “Develop and encourage higher standards in the handicrafts.” The Society focused on the relationship of artists and designers to the world of commerce, and on high-quality workmanship.
This Society was incorporated for the purpose of promoting artistic work in all branches of handicraft. It hopes to bring Designers and Workmen into mutually helpful relations, and to encourage workmen to execute designs of their own. It endeavors to stimulate in workmen an appreciation of the dignity and value of good design; to counteract the popular impatience of Law and Form, and the desire for over-ornamentation and specious originality. It will insist upon the necessity of sobriety and restraint, of ordered arrangement, of due regard for the relation between the form of an object and its use, and of harmony and fitness in the decoration put upon it.
In the United States the Arts and Crafts style incorporated locally handcrafted wood, glass, and metal work creating objects that were both simple and elegant. In architecture, reacting to both Victorian architectural opulence and increasingly common mass-produced housing, the style incorporated a visible sturdy structure, of clean lines and natural materials. The movement’s name American Craftsman came from the popular magazine, The Craftsman, founded in 1901 by philosopher, designer, furniture maker, and editor Gustav Stickley. The magazine featured original house and furniture designs by Harvey Ellis, the Greene and Greene company, and others. The designs, while influenced by the ideals of the British movement, found inspiration in specifically American antecedents such as Shaker furniture and the Mission Revival Style, and the Anglo-Japanese style. Emphasis on the originality of the artist/craftsman led to the later design concepts of the 1930s Art Deco movement.
Craftsman architectural design
Several developments in the American domestic architecture of the period are traceable not only to changes in taste and style but also to the shift from the upper- to middle-class patronage. The American Victorian typically took the form of a two-story square house with a hip roof disguised behind a variety of two-storied bays, with an assortment of gables as well as octagonal or round turrets and wraparound porches presenting a complex facade. Typically, the basic square house was also complemented by a back wing complete with its own entrances, and a stairwell that housed the kitchen, pantries, and scullery on the first floor and the servants’ quarters on the second. Fitted with inferior-quality woodwork and hardware, and noticeably smaller bedrooms and lower ceiling heights, the Victorian kitchen-servants’ wing embodied the aristocratic class distinctions of the Old World.
With the large bays, turrets, and rear wing removed, the front porch simplified, and the ceilings lowered somewhat, it is not difficult to see how the American Foursquare developed from the common American Queen Anne. The middle-class housewife of the era would not have domestic servants (at least not live-in ones) and would be doing much if not all of the housework herself, as well as watching the children. These added roles made it important that the kitchen be integrated into the main house with easy sight lines to the common areas of the main floor (the dining and living rooms) as well as to the back yard. Commonly, the butler’s pantry of the Victorian Era was replaced with dining room cabinetry that often consisted of “built-ins”, which gave home designers the opportunity to incorporate wood and glass craftsmanship into the public aspects of the home.
Another common design development arising from the class-shift of the time was the built-in “breakfast nook” in the kitchen. The Victorian kitchen of the previous era was separated from the family view and daily routine. It typically had a work table (having the equivalent purpose of the modern countertop) at which the servants would eat after the family meal was served and the kitchen tidied. The Victorian kitchen had no “proper” place for a family member to sit, eat, or do anything else. Again, as the housewife of the Craftsman era was now preparing the family meals, the Victorian kitchen gave way to one designed as the heart of the family’s daily life. The breakfast nook often placed under a window or in its own bay provided a place for the family to gather at any time of the day or evening, particularly while food was being prepared.