I’ve been at home since the middle of last week. First with a sick baby, then I fell ill, and my husband followed suit. So I’ve had ample opportunity to consider the walls around me. Not the literal walls, but the walls of the house type known as a bungalow. Built across America with zeal in the early 20th century, bungalows can be found in almost every Kentucky community, ranging from examples with well-defined Craftsman style details, or simple houses with very little exterior ornamentation.
Bungalows, which combined “moderate price with attractive design,” appealed to Americans seeking an end to renting and a comfortable place to raise their families. The low lines of the bungalow gave the building a solidity which offered comfort and security.
The open, wide front porch is one of the bungalow’s most particular features (and my favorite). The porch created a harmonious relationship between the outside world and the home, allowing residents to chat with passersby or simply escape the summer heat.
The inside of a bungalow historically is as simple and efficient as its exterior. It has an open floor plan – at least when compared to the rigid formality of Victorian-era dwellings. Bedrooms were located near the dining and living rooms, and many bungalows also have a circular floor plan which facilitates movement within the dwelling.
The bungalow is typically one to one-and-one-half stories high – a low form, with the roof eaves stretching out beyond the walls – and built in array of materials. The type is usually two rooms wide and two rooms deep (though additions and porches could increase the depth of the original plan).
Most bungalows have the previously mentioned front porch, details like exposed rafter tails and brackets (both elements of the Craftsman style) under overhanging gables; dormers if an upper story exists, double-hung sash windows, often with vertical lights set over a single lower sash; a chimney, and usually a full-light or multi-light entry door.
I will point out that while I do recommend McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses, I (and many of my colleagues) depart from its nomenclature when it comes to the bungalow. McAlester treats Craftsman as the type, while I use the term bungalow as the type, and its stylistic attributes can be anything from Craftsman, to Tudor Revival, to Colonial Revival. Sometimes, it’s just a bungalow – the word itself derives from the Indian word “bangla,” or a low house with galleries or porches all around. But that’s all semantics.
Although California may have taken the influences for the bungalow and translated them into a housing form that would be built by the thousands across the United States, I find that its most important feature is well-suited for Kentucky – the porch. It’s an extension of the living room, but also of the outdoors – the garden of the bungalow was “an adjunct to the bungalow, a sharer in its life.” I like sharing my life with my bungalow, its porch, and the outside world.
 Clifford Edward Clark. The American Family Home, 1800-1960. (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1986), 173.
 Clay Lancaster. The American Bungalow, 1880-1930. (New York: Abbeville Press, 1985), 241.