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The American Bungalow Design Style

The American bungalow, though wildly popular, was not always American but was adopted from India in the mid-19th century, where the British built them as simple one-story rest houses for travelers.

Unlike other design styles that tend to obey the same rules wherever they are seen, this style conforms to particular communities. For example, Bungalows in California have Spanish touches, in New England, they have British characteristics, and in communities with Dutch roots, they may have gambrel roofs.

However, there are staple characteristics that define the American bungalow design style, which we will explore below.

American-Bungalow Style Architecture

American-bungalow structures are simple –almost as if staying true to their original builders' intent. They are also big on maintaining curb appeal on the exterior and, for that reason, will opt for a clean, manicured appearance. The interiors, on the other hand, have finer details. Here are more details:

  • Low-pitched roofs that have eaves or gables. 

  • Large front porches shielded from the wind and rain.

  • Expansive fireplaces with built-in cabinets, shelving, and seating for homeowners who love the cabin feel.

  • Exposed rafters that extend outward and may be cut for personal style.

  • Dormers in the front with a gable or shed roof.

  • Double-hung windows with large single glass panes.

American Bungalow Materials

Materials for this style seek to provide a 'home sweet home' feel. They focus on warmth and a casual appeal and steer away from complicated textures. Different regions also tend to have their favorites. For instance, the West loves stucco and clay-tiled roofs. However, the following materials are the most common in American-bungalow style homes:

  • Clapboard sidings with cedar shingles often with stained wood or another earthy tone

  • Stone, brick, or concrete blocks molded into a decorative form.

  • Accessories made of clay, glass, and wood or unique picks from flea markets to make the space inviting.

  • Rustic, organic designs in seating and furniture achieved with bamboo, wood, grass, and handwoven wicker.

American Bungalow Colors and Finishes

Warmth, giving a cozy, and inviting feel is the underlying theme that dictates the color palette for this style. Exteriors may keep off the traditional brown and white for turquoise, gray-green, or butter yellow. Rugs may be patterned or stick to subdued hues.  

  • Accent walls may be light brown or create a contrast in an earthy-toned room with mustard yellow, sage green, or terra cotta orange.

  • White, soft browns, and shades of blue are excellent color combinations for house exteriors.

  • Upholstery and furniture are in shades of beige -khaki, mocha, tan, etc. –to keep the space warm.

  • Woodwork, furniture, moldings, and trim often have a natural finish or are stained to enhance the wood's color.

  • Lighting fixtures in gold, chrome, black, brass, silver, and bronze finishes are also common.

American Bungalow Furniture and Decor

American bungalow favors streamlined furniture often made from heavy oak with a dark wood finish. Exposed frames are also common to display the details of their make. Slats, couch arms, and comfortable backs are also common. Here's more:

  • Period furniture depending on the personal taste. Most of them are pieces passed down in a family or unique collectibles bought from a flea market.

  • Large wooden beds with bedposts, storage boxes in the bedroom, and ornate corner tables and seating in the living room

  • Furnished loveseats under windows and sofas for lounging in the living room or on a shielded porch.

  • Decorations come from different cultures, including souvenirs from travel escapades –Moroccan wallpaper, Arabian lamps, wall hangings with tribal drawings, etc.

  • Other wall decorations include murals, or texturing the walls by sponging, ragging, dragging, and stippling.

American Bungalow Lighting

Most homeowners with an American-bungalow-style home try to mimic the stained-glass windows and geometric or angular arts and crafts designs. It's common to find oil-rubbed lamps with copper or bronze metal to keep up with this theme in their lighting. Also, large mirrors framed with oak wood may be used to reflect natural daylight in small rooms. Here's more:

  • Lighting may play between subtle and bold muted lighting for hallways, such as LEDs, bright incandescent chandeliers light in the living room, and floor lamps in bedrooms.

  • Fixtures with a bronze finish, chrome, or different black metallic shades.

  • Straight-line chandeliers with square shades in the dining and living rooms.

  • Flush-mounted ceiling fixtures are used in almost every room.

The easiest way to incorporate this style in your home is by sticking to the textbook characteristic, then rely on the regional details for fine tuning.

Whatever you do, remember that simple and classy served up the American way is the bedrock of the entire design.