Importance of the Bungalow
In the transition of the 19th to the 20th century, American families turned their interest to a new style of home; the bungalow. This new style of housing would be smaller than the previously popular living arrangements such as the Victoria style home. The bungalow homes were more uniform with each other, which created a more homogeneous look in neighborhoods. They were also much more affordable home to Americans than previous homes, and promoted efficiency and progressivism.
The word bungalow was described by Gwendolyn Wright as “usually referring to a relatively unpretentious small house… the term implies a one-story or story-and-a-half dwelling of between six hundred and eight hundred square feet. ” Bedrooms were very small, and the kitchen was usually only big enough for one person to work in at a time. Edward Bok, the editor of the Ladies‘ Home Journal, promoted a variety of Progressive causes. He used the magazine to publicize the simple bungalow style. He stated that “we need only to be more natural: to get back to our real, inner selves. He believed the homes at the turn of the century were too cluttered and over-furnished, and many of the homes problems were directly related to nervous breakdowns of women in that time period. Bok thought many women were pressured by social criticism to refrain from simplifying their home, they dreaded the possibility that their rooms would be called “bare. ” But more simplicity in the homes would, in turn, also make lives simpler. Families could have fuller lives because they would have more time.
Gustav Stickley was one of the more influential promoters of the bungalow home. Stickley suggested that many social issues and problems could be remedied by the adoption of a more simple home style. Even issues such as divorce rates, lack of servants, crime, and civil disorder. He believed that “the dominant characteristics of the pioneer yet shape what are the salient qualities in American life. ” He went on to say that “to preserve these characteristics and to bring back in individual life and work the vigorous constructive spirit… is, in a nut-shell, the craftsman idea. Stickley proposed that the seemingly obvious place to begin readjustments was in the home, as it would appear natural that the relief from friction, which would follow the ordering of our lives along more simple and reasonable lines, would not only assure comfort and efficiency to the American workers, but would give children a better chance to grow up under higher degrees of mental, moral, and physically efficient conditions. New innovations in kitchen design would make more people, especially women, receptive to the bungalow style house.
At this point, it is clear that women are becoming more active in mainstream society. Before the bungalow, most often employed female domestic servants were the primary workers in the household. These domestic servants were usually black married women rather than live-in workers. The bungalow building designs would allow more and more housewives to cook and create meals in their own kitchens. Between 1900 and 1920, the number of domestic servants declined by half, from eighty per thousand families to thirty-nine.
Gwendolyn Wright says builders praised “the smaller, better-equipped kitchen, planned for the domestic scientist who had no need of a servant. ” Women were now more able to experiment in the kitchen, and new appliances allowed for quicker preparation. These new appliances also gave housewives more time, which in turn, made it easier for them to become part of the working world if they chose to do so. Typical jobs that many women held in this era were receptionists, clerical workers, and typewriters.
Building corporations also favored the outbreak for new, more uniform, and simpler housing. Most of the country was still available for construction, which gave these companies many opportunities. The simple design also made them easy to construct, which in theory would allow for greater profit. This is similar to the developments popular in today’s society. These developments now will be erected just about anywhere there is open land, just as small bungalow’s most likely did in the early twentieth century.
This type of house was a “progressive house” in the sense that it had technological advances such as better equipped kitchens, running water, hot water heaters, and machines. The advancement of the bungalow would eventually lead to greater architectural discoveries, including the suburbs that comprise much of this nation’s real-estate. The bungalow was widely accepted by society because democratic architecture meant good homes available to all Americans through economy of construction and materials, together with the necessary standardization.