I've always been enamored with the Craftsman Bungalow - but didn't even realize it at first.
I remember spending time in the Pasadena California area house hunting for a possible job move decades ago and just being hypnotically drawn to the older bungalows that abound there. I didn't know then, but it was a truly American architectural style that was also common all over San Francisco where I'd lived most of my life.
Looking back, the feature that always caught my eye first and drew me in, was the front porch.
And now, owning and living in a 1924 craftsman bungalow in northern Arizona, I find myself excited beyond words that we opened up the front porch which had been enclosed somewhere in the 60's or 70's. We started that whole renovation project in summer 2019, and it wasn't really finished until summer 2021, but it was so worthwhile. (You can find out more about that project here: Juniper Hill Cottage.)
It feels glorious to be in that space now without the constraint of the walls and windows. Friends and neighbors come into the space and just marvel at how delicious it is. We try to imagine why anyone would have chosen to enclose this fabulous space.
Every chance we get, which is pretty much daily, we end the day on this exceptional front porch. Never get tired of it or the view.
So I thought I'd write a piece to explore the idea.
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A resurgence of some of the simpler pleasures in life is just the right medicine for our over-scheduled, over-sized lives.
I'm a true believer in the natural order of things.
Things seem to go in cycles where one phase is a reaction to the one prior, and then swinging back to the other side again.
Perhaps over time we are swinging a bit less to the extremes and finding our way to more balanced lifestyles.
Let's not over-adjust
So leaving behind their 3,000 square foot typical homes, people are building or buying these tiny homes on wheels and experimenting with the idea of true freedom and eco-consciousness. They are making huge sacrifices to fit their modern lives into these idealized tiny homes. All in the name of abandoning the excesses of the last 70 years.
Instead of pursuing the trend-du-jour, I would suggest that there's an even more human scaled and eco-friendly alternative.
Craftsman and Arts & Crafts Bungalows are the perfect interpretation of the values and ideals that we are seeking again.
Because this was the predominant American architectural style in the early part of the 20th century, there are large inventories of these smaller homes in pockets and historic neighborhoods all over the country.
Rather than building or buying something entirely new (and many would say impractically compact) why not recycle, upcycle, and reclaim the bungalow homes that already exist?
find harmony on your bungalow porch
Nature might be a dense, untouched forest or an expansive view of the high desert mountains or the garden around the perimeter of your bungalow.
Gardens were not just an adornment but an expression of the perfect Eden because, according to Gustav Stickley in the early 20th century:
In practically all of us is a deep, distinctive longing to possess a little corner of that Eden from which our modern and materialistic way of living have made us exiles.
I have to say that seems like a thoroughly modern sentiment to me, sitting here 100 years later.
The ubiquitous front porch is the connecting element, bridging the space between that house and garden. Between our private sanctuary and our surrounding community, the security of our cocoon and the unpredictability of planet earth upon which we exist.
Peace & contentment,
This blog post was originally written in mid-2019, and it is now updated - because, hey, a lot has happened in the last 3 years, dontcha think?!
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Hey there. I'm Miriam ~ and I've been doing this my whole life. It's my passion.
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