When is a Cape Cod a Bungalow Style?

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Cape Cod... Or Bungalow?

White house with steep gables in upstate New York
White house with steep gables in upstate New York. Photo © Jackie Craven

Harry from Schenectady sends this house style mystery:

"The house has two bedrooms, one bath, and one floor with formal living and dining rooms. It was built in 1924, maybe later on. It looks like a Cape Cod, or a Craftsman Bungalow????? Any help will be greatly appreciated."

    Can you guess what house style this is? Here are some clues:

    This "style" of house can be found in most American suburbs. They are as prevalent as Cape Cod styles, but they look a little different.

    Read answers to this House Style Mystery and see another example of this familiar style.

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    Cape Cod or Bungalow? Answers!

    Minimal Neo-Tudor style in upstate New York
    Minimal Neo-Tudor style in upstate New York. Photo © Jackie Craven

    Readers Respond to House Style Mystery #28:

    From Steve:

    • I think it's a Tudor. The steep roof pitch and gables suggest it. I bet the door used to be arched. I can't tell from the photo, but if your siding is aluminum, vinyl, or asbestos, it may hide a stucco facade beneath, maybe with half timbering, which would cinch the deal. Even if it's brick or shingle, in those days, cottages like yours rarely conformed to exact stylistic norms. You have a beautiful house. Are you buying or sellingthe house in the photo?

    From Donna:

    • I believe this house better fits the bungalow style. The New England Cape style is much different in appearance and often includes dormers. True, both tend to be one story but the New England Cape has various colonial features and is a much older style than the bungalow.

      The Cape often has a center front doorway, a large center chimney, a small entrance foyer with doors to the left and right parlors. There may also be a small narrow stairway to a second level loft or bedroom area. Both parlors usually have interior fireplaces connecting to the center chimney and there is usually a large third keeping room in back with a big main fireplace usually with bee hive ovens. The windows are double hung often 9 over 9 and there are often simple pine wainscoting with raised panels on the fireplace walls. The cape may have been enlarged over the years with additions attached to the sides and back of the house.

    From Kate:

    • It looks to me like a GI Cape Cod style, although being built in the 20s is a little early for that style.

    From Louis:

    • It looks like both and neither. The faux front gable over the door is distinctive but unlike either of the styles mentioned. The shutters are out of proportion, especially on the second story. Looks to me like a small converted church or a church-building style adapted as a house. It's attractive, in any event, but I'd love to peel off the siding to see what's underneath.

    From David:

    • I would say bungalow due to the roof style and lack of gabling.

    And, from another Steve:

    • There's no reason it can't be both a Cape and a bungalow. Bungalows were built in a huge variety of styles, from Tudor to adobe, so who says it can't be a Cape bungalow? And the date's right. On the other hand, it could've started its life as a Cape and, through additions, been modified to look more like a bungalow. Or something else.

    Here's another example and possible answer >>

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    Minimal Tudor Cottage

    Minimal Neo-Tudor style brick house in upstate New York
    Minimal Neo-Tudor style in upstate New York. Photo © Jackie Craven

    When is a Cape Cod a Bungalow Style? When it's a Minimal Tudor Cottage.

    The word "cottage" like the word "bungalow" is not really a house style. It's more of a house type, like a "mansion," that describes the size of the structure. The small homes in the Bengal area of India were called bangalo. The word "skyscraper" has a similar function to describe height—but not usually for homes!

    As Donna said on the previous page, American Cape Cod Revival homes very often have dormers, even if they have Tudor detailing. The simple Cape Cod design is a perfect "starter home," but additions or "upgrades" may be constructed in other styles. For example, vestibules or front entries were often added to Cape Cod homes, and the additions sometimes mimicked Tudor styles.

    In our Guide to Mid-Century Homes, 1930 - 1965, we describe the style type of this Mystery Houseafter the Minimal Traditional style named by the McAlesters in A Field Guide to American Houses. It has more ornamentation than a Minimal Traditional, but far less than a Tudor cottage. As such, it was a very popular house for the middle class in the mid-twentieth century.