California Bungalow House Style & Decoration

The bungalow style home was popular in the United Sates from 1900 until the 1930s. It is enjoying a resurgence today as original bungalows are restored and new ones are constructed. California style bungalows were first designed and built in California, and are primarily Craftsman style homes with a Spanish mission influence. They are small houses with simple floor plans designed to complement their natural surroundings. California bungalow décor features themes drawn directly from nature.

  1. Architectural Features

    • California bungalows are generally one story dwellings featuring low slung roofs and deep overhangs. They boast multipaned windows and generous front porches supported by columns, designed to connect the interior of the home with the beauty of nature.

      The exterior of the house often features a rustic stone chimney which services the large fireplace. Some bungalows hint at a second floor with a dormer situated above the front porch, but the space within is usually not high enough to stand up in and is used for storage only.

      Inside, a traditional California bungalow has an open floor plan with a large stone fireplace. The open concept layout is still popular in the bungalows being built today. The fireplace is often flanked by built-in book cases, some with leaded glass doors. Wood is used liberally in features like flooring, wainscoting, window and door trim and crown molding. Some windows feature leaded and stained glass.


    • California bungalows borrow their colors from nature. Dark greens and browns are popular exterior colors. Lighter shades are used on window trim and the front door might be painted a muted shade of red. Today, many paint manufacturers offer traditionally accurate color palettes for new and renovated bungalow style homes.

      The interior color scheme is often muted as well, playing shades of beige, cream, terracotta and green off the wood tones of flooring, paneling and furnishings. Today, however, it is also popular to lighten these interiors up with white walls coupled with punches of color on things like curtains, throw pillows and bedding.


    • Traditional California bungalows are furnished with pieces in the spare Mission style, loosely modeled after the simple wood furniture found in the Spanish missions of California and Mexico. Made popular in the early 20th century, Mission style furniture is cleaned lined, heavy and often made of oak. Leather is the covering of choice for couch and chair cushions. Dressers, chests and cupboards often feature pulls fashioned from hammered copper or wrought iron.


    • Stained and leaded glass lampshades are often found in California bungalow style homes. Simple wrought iron, copper or bronze wall sconces add ambient light.

      Area rugs with simple botanical patterns belong in a California bungalow as do muted Oriental rugs and those fashioned from natural fibers like sisal and coir.

      Windows are simply dressed with linen or cotton curtains, either plain or with a motif drawn from nature. Hung on wooden or wrought iron rods, they can be pulled back from the window to let in natural light.

      Copper house numbers, door knockers and light fixtures add another layer of detail to the front porch.

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  • Photo Credit house with wrap around porch image by Kathy Burns from

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