Letter from the editor

Small Home Gazette, Winter 2010

Letter From the Editor: bungalows no longer a hot trend

Has the bungalow’s moment in the sun passed? (Or rather the bungalow’s second moment in the sun, the first being when they were new.)

Some signs possibly point to that. For example, we’ve noted that there were far fewer new books on bungalows and the Arts & Crafts movement published during the past year than in previous years, though we have no hard numbers to quantify it. And the “Mission” styling that for several years was wantonly slapped onto everything from dog beds to Target end tables seems to have waned.

And what about the attention shift caused by the housing crisis? Nowadays conversations are more likely to center on keeping a roof overhead than on waxing poetic about the history and style of the house beneath it.

But if bungalows are no longer a hot trend, perhaps they’ve settled in for the long haul. Consider a point made by the Twin Cities Bungalow Club’s most recent presenter, historic preservationist Robert Vogel: “Unless family size skyrockets or the fundamental mechanics of American home life changes, bungalows are going to be useful for a long time.”

In the January 15 issue of U.S. News and World Report, under the headline, Seventeen Ways Consumers Are Changing, was this: “Smaller things now make the bigger statement,” according to the Futures Co., a market-research firm. “Smaller portions, smaller houses, smaller cars, and local communities.”

And a recent article in This Old House magazine titled, “Back to the Bungalow,” began with these words: “With its top-notch craftsmanship, great looks, and manageable size, the bungalow is experiencing quite a comeback in real estate markets nationwide.”

Comeback? Gosh, weren’t we reading that announcement just—what was it—10 or 15 years ago? And now the bungalow is making yet another comeback?

The same article quotes several real estate agents who specialize in bungalows. “If you really want a sense of community, you need homes with front porches,” says one. Another: “For a lot of people, that’s their vision of the American dream. Plus it’s a very classic design. It will never go out of style.”

Local real estate agents who favor bungalows—including those who advertise in this newsletter—feel the same way. Explains Christopher Dark: “For me, the desire to be a bungalow and craftsman home specialist is more than ‘work with what you know’; it’s more of ‘work with what you love’!”

If real estate agents haven’t forgotten about the bungalow, homebuyers likely haven’t either. All this suggests that the bungalow revival has matured, but not faded. In other words, society may have burned through the initial infatuation, and now it’s settling in for a long-term relationship.