One thing I really enjoy about living in an old house is the history behind it. Even when most often much of the history is left undiscovered with stories left untold, I still enjoy the hunt and any information I can gather from researching. I especially am curious about our little house in Seattle, knowing that I'll never have the full story, I am interested in learning as much as I can. One minor detail that has me going back and forth on is whether to call it a bungalow or cottage. Initially I started calling it a cottage, and that's perhaps because I'm a New Englander at heart and the architecture although craftsman-like, reminds me of Greek revival (though the column is not completely of Greek order). I can't really imagine any Greek revival style house being called a bungalow.
Not wanting to sound completely ignorant I decided to do a little research on bungalows and cottages and what sets them apart. I also have started looking a little further into our neighborhood's history trying to find any additional information about our house that I can. This may all seem like a bore to you, but I'd be curious to find out what you believe after reading about what I've uncovered. Here's what I learned:
Cottages have been around for hundreds of years, in the UK. Modern cottages have the comforts of a modern home, with electricity and indoor plumbing. Typically the major difference between a cottage and a house, today is the size of the cottage. Traditionally they were known to be only one room dwellings, but more recently their floorplan is usually one large main room with a kitchen, bathroom and one or two bedrooms. There is a little debate about whether those bedrooms must be located in the upper floor or on the main floor for it to be considered a true cottage. Often cottages have a high pitched roof, traditionally thatched. The high roof provides a large attic space, which is often turned into the sleeping quarters with many cottages having this be the second or third bedroom. When the attics have been adjusted these cottages can be marketed as 'two-story cottages'.
Many people see cottages to be vacation homes, which I believe is a term that sprang up only in the 20th century, as middle class families were able to purchase or rent, additional may it be humble, properties outside of the city. Typically vacation or rental cottages are located around lakes, in the woods or near beaches.
Because cottages originated in the UK their traditional architecture supports that of the landscape in which they came. Thick walls, small windows and lower ceilings is the more common style of an English cottage. They were made to be warm and cozy and to keep out the cool damp air. Bringing in sunlight wasn't a top priority.
Apparently, there is some debate as to whether a bungalow is or is not a type of cottage. The word 'bungalow' is an Anglo-derived term for a Bengali house. Bungalows originated in India and Bengal, with the architecture although similar in size and floorplan to a cottage, were adjusted to suit the region. Because the climate of southeast Asia is very different from that of the UK, traditional cottages do not work. Thick cottage walls only trapped hot, humid air inside the home, while being built directly on the ground meant that the house flooded during monsoon season. The bungalows are raised up from the ground level, about 3 feet or more, they also have larger windows, with wide hallways to help distribute the air throughout the home. A major distinction in style is that bungalows have steps that lead up to the front door, with a large veranda surrounding the exterior of the home so that the inhabitants can sit on the porch to catch the tropical breeze. Traditional bungalows are only single storied dwellings.
After reading about these two definitions and the subtle difference between I still believe that our house blurs the lines of a cottage or bungalow. If we are going to agree that a bungalow is a style of cottage than I'm correct to call it a cottage. But if we must distinguish, there are some subtle details that make me think that it is still a close call. Here are the traits that our house has within each category.
- It has a high pitched roof
- There is one large main living room, that is open to the dining room.
- 2 bedrooms total
- I looks more English in style to me - and I really see the Greek Revival plan with the left sided door and the column holding up the front entry porch.
- There is a porch, but I would not consider it a veranda, there isn't any room to sit.
- Raised off the ground by 2 feet
- Steps to the front door
- Large windows
- Single story building
- Location - it's in Seattle, a temperate climate, never really hot but definitely humid, moist and wet!
After polling my husband and family, they've told me to call it a bungalow. But honestly, I'm still not completely convinced...
Upon further discovery, when I was reading through my Historic Seattle pamphlet on Capital Hill, I found under the Significant Buildings list, there are 50 Decorated cottages from circa 1890. Only 10 years before our cottage was built. They also look very similar to our little home and I'm really curios to find out where they are in the neighborhood (the location is unfortunately not specified). Also typical in Capital Hill, are the "1900 Classic Box" houses which were popular between 1900 and 1920 for their ample interior space and conservative appearance. Two more traits that our house has, ample interior space (considering the overall square footage) and a conservative appearance. Unlike many of the craftsman homes in the area, it doesn't have a ton of decoration.
One other home I found while combing the internet was this home below. A design company had recently refinished it in San Antonio, Texas. They describe this to be a craftsman bungalow, although I would attest to the bungalow title... but the porch detailing, column, and frame look very similar to our little house.
I guess what I take away from this is that there are cottages in Seattle, so not all single story buildings in the west are considered bungalows and not all bungalows nowadays are a single story. Also, that there is a lot more than just Craftsman architecture in Seattle. In fact there are a number of Colonial style homes, and just down the street a significant building from 1916 (formally the Christian Science Church) is a truly Greek Revival in design. My final answer, it's a COTTAGE and I believe it to be mostly in the style of a CRAFTSMAN (because of the slight details in the siding, and the molding frames) with Greek Revival influence (which probably is due to the period in which it was built).... so I'm going to have to call it what my gut wanted to call it from the start.. a Craftsman Cottage. Which means on Instagram, I'm going to freely use the hashtag #ourseattlecottage. I am curious if anyone disagrees with me, and if so why. I'd love to your feedback!
A photograph of our home that I took the first day we moved in!