The American Bungalow, or Craftsman home, grew out of the Arts and Crafts Movement of the late 19th century. The movement rejected the Industrial Revolution’s increasingly ornate machine-made products and the overly decorated, impractical architecture of the Victorian era.
The word “bungalow” originates in India and refers to a simple, low-built structure with porches on the outside. The American Bungalow emphasized a visibly sturdy structure, clean lines, natural materials, simplicity and efficiency. Use of space was maximized by clustering the kitchen, dining area, bedrooms and bathrooms around a central living area.
The American Bungalow also reflected a changing America — members of a growing middle class who sought an affordable home of their own where they could raise a family. This meant a floor plan integrating the kitchen with the common areas providing easy sight lines of the dining and living rooms so one could easily watch the children while preparing meals.
The American Bungalow was immensely popular. Kit homes that suppliers could ship anywhere in the country led to “bungalow mania” in the 1910s and 1920s. Sears was the most prominent supplier of these kits and reportedly sold more than 100,000 homes between 1908 and 1940. Sears bungalows are now highly prized by bungalow enthusiasts.
The American Bungalow has a distinctive style: a low, gently slopping roof, usually one story (some Bungalows have attics and dormer windows), wide overhanging eaves, exposed rafters (rafter tails), an incised porch (set beneath the roof) and tapered or square pillars (corbels) supporting the roof. Throughout the interior, designers showcased the wooden craftsmanship with exposed beam ceilings and built-in cabinetry, shelves and benches.