Classic Californian Bungalow

The minute they entered the bungalow it opened its heart and soul.

The bungalow was the most popular form of housing in Australia in the twentieth century. The Californian Bungalow was amongst the earliest of the twentieth century bungalow styles. This earthy and unpretentious style was based on a distinctive type of rustic, Japanese-influenced single storey detached house which developed in the Los Angeles suburbs to become the standard unit of US west coast suburbia by the outbreak of World War I.

The Californian Bungalow was imported to Australia in 1916 by an Australian Real Estate Agent who assembled it for a show held in the Sydney suburb of Rosebery. For many Australians, Hollywood provided a glossy image of an American way of life and California was seen as a model for what Australia might one day become. California and south-eastern Australia had certain similarities of climate, topography and vegetation (the eucalypt being an Australian ‘export’ to California).

There was also a historical parallel with simultaneous discoveries of gold in the mid- nineteenth century boosting the development of both regions. By the early 1920s, speculative builders had embraced the style, and it proliferated until the Great Crash of 1929. The virtually standardised Australian version of the style was usually built in brick rather than in timber, and it featured a range of chunky carpentry details applied to houses which in other respects were not greatly different from those of the preceding decade.  It underwent regional adaptations with the Sydney version built in local liver-coloured brick.

Stained glass windows incorporating Arts and Crafts– and Art Nouveau–inspired designs are a popular design characteristic. Bay windows are common, with windows double-hung and grouped together. The interiors were designed in a less decorative manner than the Victorian and Edwardian styles, though ceilings at times featured panelling. Timber floors, window and door frames and picture rails were originally stained dark to contrast the lighter coloured plaster walls.

One of the striking aspects of Cowling is the attention to detail and the faithfulness with which classic period features have been preserved and maintained. Download the PDF  ‘Cowling’ – History from previous owner to fully appreciate the attention to detail.

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