The history of the bungalow dates back to 18th century India. First seen as native housing in the region, the diverse one-story, thatched-roof abode was adapted by British colonial administrators into houses and summer retreats in the Himalayas. But it wasn’t until the late 19th and early 20th centuries that bungalows reached the shores of America. Today, we see bungalows and their distinct architecture restored all over town. The “every man” house of the past is the architectural beauty of the present.
Nature vs. Nurture
Sitting on its own plot of land, a bungalow represented living close to nature, often surrounded by a garden, however small. Today, we closely associate bungalows with beach vacation homes or resort living. But originally the iconic features of bungalows — style, simplicity, convenience, and solid construction — provided respectability for new homeowners across the country. “Bungalows also have the advantage of being more private,” says Arthur Lubetz, principal at Front Studio Architects. “Being on one floor, if you plant a tree, it doesn’t take long to grow to shade the house or to make it so that you can’t see the next house so easily.”
The definition of a bungalow is explicit in most dictionaries as a one- or one-and-a-half story dwelling. But in their book, American Bungalow Style, authors Robert Winter and Alexander Vertikoff identify more than a dozen variations on the traditional bungalow form. They range from Craftsman Bungalows to Spanish Revival Bungalows. But all bungalows have several features in common: Most of the living spaces are on the ground floor, they have a low-pitched roof and a horizontal shape, the living room is at the center, connecting rooms are without hallways, and efficient floor plans are throughout.
One of the perks of original bungalows was that they combined high style and high efficiency with low cost. This Craftsman style bungalow in North Versailles likewise joins amazing architectural details and traditional style at an affordable price. The stone exterior is complete with a jaw-dropping outdoor fireplace on the back porch, perfect for cool summer nights. Inside, the details amass around every corner. Three is the magic number in this bungalow —the three-bedroom, three-full-bath home has three fireplaces. But the most breathtaking feature is the cathedral barrel-styled ceiling/ recessed side ceiling in the living room that is mirrored in the doorways leading out of the room. “I find it extremely difficult to find any comparisons,” says listing agent Cathy Petrulli. “The home is in very good condition for its years, and it is nestled on a 1.3 acre, tree-lined lot,” she says. 1017 Taylor St., North Versailles is listed for $259,900. For more information contact listing agent Cathy S. Pertrulli. Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, 724.863.33000. howardhanna.com.
At the turn of the century, the American bungalow craze was spreading across the country. Some of the homes, costing as little as $900, were a popular means of home ownership for the less affluent. The bungalow fulfilled the dream of home ownership for many families who otherwise couldn’t afford it, while simultaneously combining simple construction with stunning architecture.
All the Pretty Pieces
The seamless floor plans and unique detailing make bungalows the perfect showcases for funky furniture and living accessories. Remember to keep size in mind and avoid cluttering a small room with large pieces, or down playing a large room with small furniture. Instead, pick up statement pieces like this table lamp from Artifacts. Its stained glass effect will be the perfect accent to the windows of your bungalow. If you want to add even more character to your bungalow, consider adding stained glass elements. Windows are perfect for squeezing some charm into a finished space, but to make a major statement transform an entire door or wall into a stained glass masterpiece with the help of Rex Glass and Mirror Co. Artifacts, 110 South Main St., West End. 412.921.6544. Rex Glass and Mirror Co. 108 Kisow Drive, West End. 412.921.7777. 5871 Ellsworth Ave.,Shadyside rexglass.com
The charm of the affordable, well-designed bungalow did not die at the turn of the new century. Modern bungalows are popping up around town, like the new construction in Buffalo Township. We have our eye on a one story home with two bedrooms, two bathrooms and many of the architectural elements of traditional bungalows. The low-pitched roof and horizontal shape are reminiscent of the historical homes, as is the dynamic floor plan that utilizes the space efficiently. The spacious living room is at the crux of the home, while the bedrooms, kitchen and baths are connected with hardly any hallway. Check out the floor plans online! 133 Sarver’s Mill Drive is listed for $236,000. Howard Hanna Real Estate Services, 412.967.9000. howardhanna.com.
If you’re inspired by these beautiful bungalows, try updating your home with the Chicago Bungalow paint palette by PPG Pittsburgh Paints. Available in stores as the Frank Lloyd Wright Falling Water collection, the color scheme draws inspiration from the bungalow’s origins. “The muted colors of bungalows were a reaction, almost a sobering, after the Victorian and Baroque eras,” says Josette Buisson of PPG Pittsburgh Paints. “The collection pulls in a lot of colors found in nature: Cherokee red, yellow golds, red bricks, organic greens, browns, and creams,” adds Dee Schlotter, National Color Brand Manager for PPG Pittsburgh Paints. “There’s a longevity to these colors. They’re easy and not overpowering and they go really well with natural finishes. They’re in harmony with woods, terracotta, and clay tiles,” Buisson says. PPG Pittsburgh Paints, ppgpittsburghpaints.com.