Expanding a Bungalow In Craftsman-style Architecture

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“I own a classic 1,200 sq foot Bungalow built around 1925, and I want to remodel my rear-of-the house kitchen—as well as build a two story rear addition that will include a new family room below, and master suite above. What are some architectural considerations that will help assure the new space will appear to be a part of the whole and not merely tacked-on?”

- FM, Great Falls, VA


With this once-humble American classic now enjoying resurgent popularity, it’s essential to know how to get more space without sacrificing architectural integrity.

Bungalows were this country’s most popular home style during the 1920’s (when homeownership began really rising)—mainly because they offered maximum space for minimal cost. Inspired by Craftsman-style architecture, which was popular from 1905 to about 1930, the bungalow offered a refreshing, functional and aesthetic change from the much fussier Victorian styles.

Many bungalows were, in fact, “kit houses”—literally, purchased from a Sears catalog and delivered, with all the requisite parts, to a site for local assembly. Often some small-scale owner-customizations were introduced prior to construction—so the bungalow’s adaptability was a feature from the start.

Hence, these homes are well-suited for enlargement, so long as the low-pitched roof line is carefully considered. Most bungalows (like yours) have a small kitchen in the rear of the house–generally behind the dining room. The other half of the first floor usually accommodates the living room– entered directly from the front door–and a rear bedroom(s) with bath. Additional bedrooms are generally located on a second floor extended by shed dormers at the front and back of the house.

For those who are keen on preserving the defining fundamentals of this now- resurgent architectural style, three components (and their interrelationships to one another) merit special attention.  These are roof line, exterior materials and window pattern. The following is a synopsis of some seminal considerations to elaborating a sympathetic Craftsman-inspired addition.

The Addition

A rear first floor addition you are seeking usually provides an logical area for an expanded kitchen, along with a contiguous family room. If your land slopes away from the house, the new family room can be dropped two steps to gain ceiling height on the first or second floors.  This is also a easy way to assure the privacy of new zones. Likewise, the second floor addition often is designated for the new master bedroom, bath and walk-in closets.

Roof Line

When designing a two-story rear addition for a Bungalow, I try to minimize the addition’s height and integrate the new with the old. Bungalows have low pitched roofs, with wide bracketed overhangs and shed dormers. Ideally, the new roof should have the same roof pitch as the existing roof, and the peak should be no higher. Shed dormers can be designed for the addition to maximize interior bedroom/bathroom space on the second floor. This also helps to scale down the mass of the side elevation—an important tactic to achieving an integrated look.

Exterior Materials

For a bungalow addition, it is best to use the same exterior material as the original house, which is often cedar shingle or narrow clapboard. Some bungalows were built with brick, stone or stucco.  In these cases, it is appropriate– and cost-effective– to clad the new addition in cedar shingle or clapboard. Bungalow foundations are typically of pre-cast block, brick or stone, which can be attractively replicated in the addition.

Window Pattern

Keep window style and size consistent with the original house. A typical bungalow will have double-hung windows with muntin bars (grids) in the top sash. Casement windows with a rectangular grid or diamond patterns are also common to bungalows.


If you adhere to these basic rules for the roof line, exterior materials and window pattern, you will achieve a sympathetic addition that won’t look tacked on, and you will most certainly enhance your home’s value.

On our main website blog, you can read about another bungalow style home addition project the Wentworth team completed in Silver Spring, Maryland. The family was getting cramped in their home, but rather than rebuilding the existing roof and locking in unsatisfactory attic rooms, they decided to combine the new roof with an improved second floor, while preserving the look of the original house.

Bruce Wentworth, AIA, is the principal of Wentworth, Inc, a residential architecture, interiors and construction practice. For questions about architectural style considerations in the greater Washington area, consult our free resources at www.wentworthstudio.com or call 240-395-0705.