A porch is one of the American bungalow’s defining features. Here are some facts about it:
- Often opening directly into the living room, the porch served as a transitional space between inside and outside. Some even called bungalow porches “outdoor living rooms” and expected that they be as fully furnished as the living rooms that adjoined them (i.e., they would include hammocks, rocking chairs, wicker or rattan woven furniture, Adirondack chairs, built-in benches, throw rugs, and pillows).
- Some people actually criticized the deep overhang of bungalow porches because they blocked so much light from interior rooms.
- Bungalow owners living in harsher climates (shout-out, Chicago!) often enclosed their porches behind glass windows. The porch, therefore, was converted into an all-season room. On occasion, however, some felt this adaptation compromised the home’s street presence.
- Architecturally, American bungalows featured prominent masonry elements (brick and stone), porch post piers, low “railing” walls, and tall, square columns.
- Bungalow porch floors were made from wood, concrete, brick accents, or terra-cotta tiles.
- Sleeping porches, usually directly off a bedroom and screened in, were also a frequent feature in American bungalows. At the turn of the twentieth century, people thought that sleeping in the open-air would help control and/or alleviate tuberculous and other common illnesses of the time. Our bungalow does not have a sleeping porch.
- Ceilings of bungalow porches were occasionally painted blue, mimicking the sky. Various reasons for this exist: 1) the color supposedly keeps “spiders, bugs, and birds from nesting there” it “repels flies,” and (my favorite) “ghosts mistook the paint for the sky and thought it was daylight at that house and thus passed it by” (Powell and Svendsen 142).
- American bungalows also included a secondary smaller porch on the back of the house, off the kitchen. It would hold the icebox (refrigerator). Our bungalow has an “icebox porch.”
Duchscherer and Douglas Keister. Bungalow Basics: Porches. San Francisco, Pomegranite, 2004.
Powell, Jane, and Linda Svendsen. Bungalow Details: Exterior. Gibbs Smith: Salt Lake City, 2004.