Updating Classic American Bungalows

Category: Bungalow Lit

J's sister , Elaine, got us this book as a Christmas gift! A great overview of historical renovation and new ideas in modern bungalow design...

Our Review

Updating Bungalows focuses largely on the updating of bungalows through renovation (and even new construction), rather than restoration. While it's not as true to the period as books like Bungalow Bathrooms or Bungalow Kitchens, it is a useful reference to readers like us who are looking to balance a respect for vintage architecture with modern conveniences.

The most interesting things we found in this book were definitions of the different kinds of bungalows. While the Chicago-Style Bungalow Initiative restricts their bungalow program to a fairly specific architectural style (the "Chicago-style"), this book points out the definition of a bungalow and reviews the different variations of bungalows that exist in many places:

"A bungalow is a one-story structure--or one that appears that way from the street--with a dominating roof that frames a welcoming porch. A semi-bungalow is a story-and-a-half in appearance but has a partial second story of space under those dormers on the roof. And the oddly named bungaloid looks much like the others but is a full two stories height."

While our stucco home doesn't fit the Chicago-Style Bungalow Association's "official" definition of a bungalow, our Craftsman/Prairie-style bungalow has the elements that make it the home we were looking for when we first set out on this adventure.

A lovely Craftsman-style sloping roof with a generous "overhang" and knee-walls. Prairie-bungalow windows, layout, details in tile and built-in's, and stucco construction (very Frank Lloyd Wright meets the modest bungalow craftsman). Generous ceiling heights on both floors (not common in Chicago-style bungalows) which make raising the roof or creating new dormers quite unnecessary. (A full height basement doesn't hurt its case either.) The original stained glass flanked fireplace is underneath that wood paneling...somewhere.

Set onto the same sized lots of the Chicago-style bungalows on our street, the Prairie-style, Queen Anne, Tudor-revival and Dutch Colonial-revival bungalowsbring depth and character to the architecture of the neighborhood. North of us a little ways are more moderne or mid-century Art Deco bungalows...interesting!

These are the little jewel boxes in Chicago that the realtors don't tell you about because they aren't in the Chicago-style Bungalow Association program. This makes them all the more affordable and dear to us. The CBA is missing out on some beautiful renovation gems. Though we are kind of glad that they haven't discovered them...more square footage for less money per square foot, and all of the bungalow charms. What a deal! :)

Strange to me that a Sears Honor Bilt, a traditional bungalow form nationwide, would be disdained by the CBA. Their loss is someone's gain though, eh?


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Unbiased reviews of tools and resources based on our experiences restoring an old home.

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