Craftsman Homes: The California Bungalow House

Craftsman homes are very distinguishable and have become increasingly popular among home buyers over the last few years. As more and more home buyers are discovering the wonderful appeal of these older houses, a lot of questions are emerging regarding the history of Craftsman homes.


During the early 20 th century, Craftsman homes, or bungalows for short, were built as a response to the industrial revolution and the era of elaborate Victorian architecture. The Arts & Crafts Movement started in England and was the driving force behind the California bungalow. Architects and designers such as Greene and Greene, Gustav Stickley, and others were striving to encourage design according to the simpler scaled down principles of the Arts & Crafts Movement. This was, at the time, in stark contrast to watered down mass production feel of the industrial revolution worlds. Earth tones, high quality materials, an appreciation for craftsmanship, and simple yet elegant design details were the hallmarks of this wonderfully understated new style.

The style spread throughout much of the western world and American architects found it to be the most practical building trend given the housing demand of the time. As such, California with its newer towns, smaller extended families, and growing communities became the showcase for what we now refer to as the California bungalow or small Craftsman house. Most people today do not necessarily have to agree with the ideologies behind the movement to appreciate the warm look and feel of these homes. In fact, most simply do not care why they were built; they just know that they like them!

Types & Styles

Another thing that homebuyers are usually not hung up on is the style of Craftsman home, and lets face it, they really just need to know whether they like them or not. But just for educational purposes, we will detail three main types of California bungalow and their most notable characteristics. Please note that many homes are custom and don’t perfectly fit any of these types. There are also numerous subtypes under each of these main styles that really are beyond the scope of this review.

Craftsman Bungalow

Big porches, low-pitched roofs, often double gabled, wood siding

Spanish Revival Bungalow

Often clay tile roof, some flat roofs, arched window, stucco

Bungalow Cottages

Higher pitched roofs. Resemble homes from children’s storybooks

Good Bones

Craftsman homes are for the most part blessed in that they were built at a time when builders were true craftsmen and many materials used were very high quality. Starting at the bottom, nearly all Craftsman homes rest upon raised concrete foundations, making for easier plumbing repairs than their slab cousins. The downside is that raised foundations on older homes tend to be places where water drainage can accumulate and cause movement. Most times this is correctable with proper draining and grading but home buyers should make note of any irregularities in the flooring or foundation walls found by an inspector.

Where home buyers find raised foundations, they often find original hardwood flooring and nearly all Craftsman houses are no different. This high quality flooring exhibited throughout the area can look incredible if given the proper care.

The skeleton structures of many of these bungalow homes are truly a testament to the quality of their wood. Much of it is redwood, a very hard strain of lumber that is incredibly resilient to the damage termites can bring. If you measure the 2×4’s, you’ll find that they measure about two inches by four inches instead of the scaled down versions used in most modern construction. With regards to wood within the homes, Craftsman homes usually showcase a nice array of built-in cabinets, shelves, seats, ironing boards, and niches. These “built-ins” provide an excellent opportunity for homeowners to showcase their creativity as well as add to the feel of a custom home.

Good Skin

Bungalows built between 1900 and 1930 do share many external design similarities. Some of these are features are definite contributors to the popularity of the modern Craftsman bungalow. Upon first glance, one will often note the attractive wood siding, large picture windows, and generous front porches that have become the trademark of these homes. Inside the walls, it is not unusual for early century homes to often have unique ceilings, moldings, and doorways

Opportunities Abound

If there ever were a group of homes built with “future opportunities” in mind then these homes would have to be it. Many of the homes have small basements under the foundations and modern uses for these include wine cellars, music rooms, and art studios.

Often homeowners will be able to add laundry hookups to the garage and can turn the laundry rooms in these homes into another bedroom or den. As long as the room is large enough to meet code requirements, this can be a relatively quick way to add equity. Attics are another feature of some of the larger Craftsman homes that may provide an opportunity to add a loft, bedroom, or even another residence. Some real concerns for these types of projects will be the nature of the homes foundation and of course, approval of the city.

With the resurgence in popularity for Craftsman homes, many dilapidated properties are being restored and brought back to life by a long list of real estate investors. The good news is that there are still many that are in need of repair. These fixer opportunities are a chance for prudent investors to beautify a community while making a little money for their efforts. Interested parties will find a wide variety of tools at the Orange County Homes For Sale page that will enable them to see what kind of bungalows are currently on the market.

Finding a Bungalow Of Your Own

It is unclear exactly why the public has become so fascinated with these bungalows. It may be there aesthetic appeal, the quality of the build, the semi-custom feel, or even that the public’s tastes have cycled away from the mass produced modern track home and back to something that feels more unique. Whatever the reason, we know that readers will be able to use or Craftsman Home Finder to find themselves the perfect bungalow regardless of the reasons why they like them.