Something About the Bungalow

FOLLOWING THE OPULENT AND EXTRAVAGANT HOME DESIGNS OF PREVIOUS DECADES, TRENDS TEND TO ALWAYS CIRCLE BACK TO THE NOSTALGIC, SIMPLISTIC MAINSTAYS OF YEARS PAST. BECAUSE SOMETIMES SMALLER CAN JUST BE COZIER.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY TINA SARGEANT
STYLED BY LISA MALOTT

An appreciation for the “bungalow” styled home has been reborn in recent years. The heart of Lakeland is bursting at the seams with bungalows and a slew of people who adore them, causing somewhat of a provincial bungalow renaissance.

Owning and caring for a bungalow is like fostering a piece of the city’s history. A snapshot in time entrusted to the current owner to care for and pass on better than it was received. The bungalow is as beloved as it is captivating. People who call these low-rise adorning cottages home and spend weekends driving through neighborhoods admiring their architecture are drawn to their character. Bungalows hold history, charm, and a rich wealth of story worth telling.

In its original form, the term bungalow means a small home with a broad front porch. The bungalow originated from India in the mid-19th century. At the time they were built by British settlers as easily constructed homes for travelers to stay in for a night or so. With its open porches and low-hanging eaves, the form and function of the bungalow made living in the hot Indian summer a breeze.

The bungalow style was a refreshing departure from the 1800s’ popular grand, high-towering Victorian design, stripping away the ornate and starchy detailing at the new turn of the century towards a more simple and quaint way of life. This style of home construction made its way to the United States in the early 1900s and dominated home designs until the 1930s. First built in Southern California, the dry air was perfect for the natural-style home with broad eaves, exposed rafters, and porches that blended well into the landscape. Southern California had more single-family dwellings than any city of its kind in the 1930s, with 94 percent of its people living in single-family homes.

With its growing popularity, soon everyone across the nation wanted their hands on a California bungalow. Large companies like Sears began to sell “Bungalow kits,” where people could easily construct their own bungalow themselves with materials manufactured on an assembly line. With the bungalows’ growing popularity in California, lumber builders and construction companies jumped on the bungalow build train, and its buzz spread all over the United States.

“Bungalows were designed and inspired to be homes with simple design, sparse decoration, and natural materials” (Wentworth, Inc. Architects). With the Arts & Crafts movement heavily influencing the birth of the style, the revival of simple handicrafts and the rethinking of ordinary domestic design paved the way for the bungalows’ character to develop and flourish. The combination of embracing local materials and merging features of the geographical location into the house birthed a fresh revival for what Americans desired in their home. Simplicity and quality reframed the mindset of what construction began to look like in the early 1900s, and it’s those same qualities that continue to draw people to the bungalows nearly 100 years later.

Admired for many of their characteristics, the bungalows’ most popular feature are their large wrap- around porches that cover the front exterior of the home with overhanging rooflines and supported by decorative columns. The front porches were finished with banisters made out of local wood or stone that perfectly finished off the home. It was common to enter a bungalow and find yourself in the center of the living room, this idea was considered “open concept” for its time. The large brick fireplaces popularized the bungalow living spaces with built-in shelving or benches framing the fireplace. The aged oak hardwood flooring also remains a big intrigue for many home seekers. It’s part of the whimsical mystery of never fully knowing the people who walked these floors, danced on these floors, the tables that stood on these floors that served meals shared through the generations. The floors alone are the history book of these homes with their natural markings, different stains through the decades, and even typical Florida termite damage adding a charm that cannot be duplicated.

Just like all trends travel through decades, the old flame of bungalow lovers has been rekindled. The heart of Lakeland holds seven historic districts, with some of its oldest homes dating back to 1884. As you drive through streets like Success Avenue, Lake Morton Drive, and Orange Park Avenue, you can’t help but feel a sense of old, a nostalgia for the past where life was simple and appreciated. As the millennial generation approaches the age of having families and purchasing homes, the pull to historic home style living is becoming more and more popular. Where the generations before them pursued the “American Dream” of bigger and better, the millennials are seeing value in going back to the roots of our country’s history. In bungalow style living, quality trumps quantity. Lakelanders who call bungalows home strive for a quality of life that matches the richness of their residence.

Eleven hundred square feet on a 0.17-acre lot may not seem large and extravagant, but it is the convenience of walking the lakes and being amongst homes of its same kind that creates a feeling of camaraderie. It’s a lifestyle of bringing the outside in and letting the landscape of your geographical location dictate the style and feel of a home. Opening doors and windows to allow natural air to inundate the home has always been the vision of the bungalow.

For more details pick up a copy of our March issue