It is better to build a small house than to overburden the budget with debt for a larger one," advised the noted architectural firm of Stillwell & Company. In their guide to economical homes, the Los Angeles-based builders declared, "A beautiful small house is just as expressive of character, aims, and aspirations as the large house. Mere size is a waste of money and human endeavor."
A reaction to the excesses of the Victorian era, the modest bungalow provided a practical, affordable answer to the huge demands of California's housing market in the 1920s. This handsome reprint of a Stillwell & Company catalog is an ideal resource for 21st-century bungalow buyers and renovators as well as for builders seeking details of authentic materials and techniques. Its 50 examples of the classic California bungalow style include magnificently reproduced photographs, in addition to floor plans, estimated costs, and descriptions of exteriors and interiors.
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West Coast Bungalows of the 1920s
By Dover Publications
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2006 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
A PERSONAL TALK ABOUT THE STILLWELL SERVICE
IN CALIFORNIA we have new ways of doing things that seem to interest people everywhere. Los Angeles is literally the melting-pot of the Nation, people coming here from every State—and from every corner of the earth. Thousands come annually for the sole purpose of making homes.
We have a fortunate combination of circumstances. The money-means is at hand—every kind of building material—a high class of permanent residents—a constant influx of newcomers who appreciate the best—with artists, architects, designers and homebuilders in the greatest rivalry for the favor of the public.
California homes cover an amazing range of style and cost. Home-planning and homebuilding are fine arts. It is well within the truth to say that in this respect this city is fully twenty-five years ahead of any other. Southern California Homes are models for all the world.
You can put the spirit and style of California in your home, no matter where you build; you will always be glad of it. But for best results and economy in building, you must be careful to get plans from specialists in house planning. The average builder is wholly unqualified to build a 100 per cent successful home from a picture and floor plan only. There are few planning agencies competent and experienced enough to render satisfactory service by correspondence.
We have tried to make our plan books truly representative of the latest developments in California homebuilding—to show the greatest possible variety and range of styles. To do this we have combed the country for the very best designs and have increased the variety of our offerings by including some of these with our own. For those designs not originated by us we have made new and, we believe, better interior floor plans. Exteriors have been carefully kept in complete conformity with the illustrations. Our plans enable any builder anywhere faithfully and economically to reproduce any house without supervision.
The room arrangement and the character of construction of most California houses would make them quite unsuited for other climatic conditions. Also the original plans and specifications from which they are built cannot often be used with any satisfaction elsewhere. But the style—the architecture, like clothes fashions—can be adapted to varying conditions.
I believe that we know the real needs of the home-builder in almost every locality. I was a resident of South Dakota for twenty-five years, and know what extremes of heat and cold are, wind, sun, snow and rain. Nearly every person employed here has had similar experience. We know the necessities of your climate, and that the plans we offer are adaptable to your needs no matter where you live.
Our work is so arranged that I can give personal direction to most of the inquiries which come in. When you deal with us, I want you to feel that you are dealing with some one who will treat your problems as an individual responsibility. Our success is based on this foundation of real service.
The idea of publishing these California designs with improved working plans so that people everywhere may have better and more attractive homes, has always appealed to the writer and his associates so strongly that it has been made a life work. The books have been compiled right here in our own office and I do not think any statement is exaggerated. They are not the exuberant claims of paid advertising agents, written merely to get your money, but rather to help you secure the most value for your investment when you build.
This business was begun in 1906 and taken over under the present name in 1907. Thousands of houses have been built from our plans since that time, most of which were secured through our correspondence system. We have studied the building question from the standpoint of the needs of our clients not only in every part of the United States, but in foreign countries as well.
Note that all published Stillwell plans are guaranteed to be satisfactory, as represented. We are willing to send plans on approval (according to any of the several offers on page 57) so that you can inspect them, compare them with any others, or have them figured by your contractor.
Why not take advantage of this proposition?
E. W. Stillwell
Age of the Bungalow
ETHEL BROOKS STILL WELL (With Apologies to Kipling)
When Earth's last House has been banished,
And the era of Homes has come in,
When the last of the building is finished,
And the hammers have ceased their din,
We shall rest—and, faith, we shall need it—
Content for a century through,
Till the Master of all good builders
Shall set us to work anew.
Then they that have homes shall be happy,
They shall sit in their bungalows
From the fiercest heat of the tropics
To the deepest of arctic snows.
They shall know real comfort in living
And freedom from Custom's thrall,
And the work of the homes shall be lightened;
It shall hardly be work at all.
There shall be no towers to vex us,
No meaningless gauds, and vain,
But all shall be fine and simple
And the beauty of use be plain.
Then art shall be more than jig-work,
And harmony more than show,
And the worth of a thing its measure
In the Age of the Bungalow.
The desire to keep up appearances often causes people to postpone building a home. Some build fine large homes but put too great a strain on their financial resources. Others build large enough houses, but secure mere size at the sacrifice of the more desirable qualities of conveniences and artistic appearance and desirability.
If a five-room house satisfies present requirements, and one has to conform to the inevitable cost limitation, then this is the kind of a home to build. BUILD NOW is good advice. It means to build while the need exists. Most people wait too long to build—defer the thing which the wife and kiddies need most—until the necessity for it has largely passed.
Desirableness—comfort—conveniences—are not matters of size nor always of cost, rather of correct planning. When circumstances change, this home will be salable, usually at a profit.
The plans provide for a half size basement. Walls are siding, the roof shingled and the general construction suitable for reproduction in any climate.
The extended porch makes this an uncommon Bungalow type. No one ever has too much porch room. Even this porch could be enlarged by running it back and the only change in the appearance would be to make the side gable high like the front one. If a small porch would suffice, the side one can be cut off with a saving of $50. As in most modern houses, the porch floors and steps are cemented; the retaining wall and pedestals are brick.
The plan is remarkable in many ways. The intercommunicating hall is conducive to greatest privacy in the principal rooms. The popular demand for plenty of closets and good sized ones is certainly met in this house. Besides the closets there are all the built-in cabinets that are so necessary in making housekeeping a delight. Access to a large cellar is via the kitchen. The attic is large enough to afford satisfactory storage space and is conveniently reached by stairs from the screen porch.
An exceedingly restful, homelike feeling is characteristic of this Bungalow. One of the very splendid points is the inconspicuous location of the front door. All of the outside walls are shingles with a very light oil stain. The photograph shows what a decorative thing an awning may be.
The plan is for six rooms and large closets; one of the best rooms being the large open-air sleeping room—a feature which is often desired even in very cold climates. The two principal rooms have a massive arch between them with bookcases built into the buttresses. Paneled wainscoting, beamed ceilings and hardwood floors are included in the plans and list of materials. Kitchen conveniences are exceptional. We recommend this particularly as one of our best planned inexpensive homes.
This plan with stairs from back porch to cellar and exterior of W-918 sold at same prices.
Good living porches, even for comparatively small houses, are one of the essentials for existence throughout a very large area of our country.
Here is a Bungalow with front and side porches which add much to the beauty as well as to the comfort of the home. While the terrace parts of the front porch are open to the sky, the pergola beams overhead can be roofed flat by a method that will give protection from the sun and yet preserve the beauty of the pergola design.
The plan is a simple arrangement of five rooms. The immense living room itself conforms to the exterior feeling of comfort. One has every opportunity to develop a wonderfully attractive interior in such a living room and it is well adapted to the needs of those who have a fondness for music and dancing.
The house is of standard frame construction with a basement under the entire rear part back of the living room.
In the rivalry for distinctive homes, unique effects can always be had by some very simple applications of details of design to rather unconventional body lines. There is a vital consideration, however, and it is that no builder should attempt reproduction or adaptation without details of design. Too much in the matter of lasting appearance, as well as of cost, is at stake to admit of any guess-work.
In this as well as all our other houses, materials are used that are standard grades and sizes all over the world, except the front windows. A special door or window treatment goes a long way toward making a house "different." However, standard stock sizes may be substituted with good effect.
Should an enclosed entrance be considered necessary, the porch is of such a design that it could easily be enclosed with either glass or screens.
The plan has all the closets and conveniences required and desired. One of the notable features is a Pullman breakfast alcove. The basement is under the rear half of the plan.
Here is a neat little Bungalow that is peer to any in its class. Walls and roof are all shingles, verge boards, brackets and porch posts are rough solid timbers. The pure white cement work of the pedestals and white window and door casings are a pleasing contrast with the dark shingle stain. The porch floor and broad steps are concrete.
Interior wood work of the front bed room, living room and dining room is stained slash grain pine and other rooms are dull white enamel. The plastered kitchen walls are white enamel also, making the rooms beautiful and sanitary.
The dining room has a broad, low buffet, the top forming a deep ledge for the high casement windows. The room sizes would in some sections be called small, but care has been taken to preserve good wall spaces, while closets and cupboards are so arranged as to make every foot of space count for more than in the average small house. The house has a full concrete basement back of the line of the dining room.
This Bungalow is also a fine example of the amount of room which may be secured at a reasonable cost. It is built on a forty-foot lot but would show to even better advantage on one somewhat wider. The porch and side gables are shingled. The rear portion has a separate roof which is hipped up behind. Porch and terrace walls are clinker brick with cement caps and the floors cement.
Specifications for the living room and dining room include thin oak flooring, paneled wainscoting, plate rail, beamed ceilings, and sand finished tinted plaster. The fireplace is six feet wide and faced with pressed brick. The columned arch has bookcases with glass doors built into the buttresses. As in all of our plans, the buffet and kitchen cabinet are designed in keeping with the style of the interior finish and suitable to the demands of an ordinary family. The house has three bed rooms and a large closet for each. A grade door at the cellar entrance avoids the necessity of lifting the usual trap doors.
Brick (or tile) fire-resisting construction is a new development in small houses. The walls of this Bungalow are solid masonry with a thick coating of stucco. The inside studs, joists and rafters are wood, but the roof, different from the ordinary fire risk, is covered with cement tiles. Our plans call for a direct front porch entrance, instead of at the end, as the photograph shows. This makes a great improvement in the front appearance. With a fully developed setting, this will make a strikingly attractive Bungalow. Ordinary frame construction would cost about $250 less.
This is a fully equipped Bungalow, with book cases, buffet, cold air closet, kitchen cabinets, concealed wall bed, drawers in closets, wardrobe, and big screen porch with combination inside and grade entrance to the basement.
This white Bungalow is an excellent example of inexpensive design applied to rather a large plan, with walls of hollow tile. The simple, attractive form of the exterior permits the use of tile (or brick) at a cost of about 5 per cent over that of all wood construction.
There is a delightfully cool front porch. A small side entrance with beautiful glass doors adds to the cheerfulness of the dining room and saves frequent travel through the front entrance.
The house is amply supplied with closets and cabinets. In addition, a large attic is made available for storage by having a stairway. This attic is about 8½ feet high in the center and at a width of 10 feet has side walls 6 feet high. Thus two low rooms might be finished off. The first-story ceilings are 8 feet 4 inches high.
One reaches the cellar (or basement) by way of a weather-proof grade landing and this cellar is made the full area of the house back of the living room.
The time-defying, weather-proof qualities of concrete and tile make them the ideal materials for small as well as for large homes. This little house makes use of these materials and adds a new word to the design of the small house.
The walls are of hollow tile coated with pure white plaster. This combines perfectly with the dark brown trim and red terra cotta tile roof. The pergola-driveway, seemingly an extension of the porch front, makes a comparatively narrow house appear quite wide. Touches of white at the ends of timbers are one of the little details that make the house unusual.
The entrance at the side of the porch leaves a fine lawn unbroken across the front of the house. From the front door one gets a good view of the dining room and the idea of spaciousness is carried out. The basement is excavated under the rear two-thirds of the plan and is divided into five compartments.
This is another of the stucco wall, tile roof, fire and time resisting houses. The stucco surface in this case is applied to a base of metal lath on wood studding. The walls could be of hollow tile, using the same plans.
The roof is made of genuine terra cotta tile and it is steep enough to make it worth while to arrange for access to the attic by means of a regular stairway.
Every conceivable comfort and convenience is arranged for in the plan. While some of these could be omitted if absolutely necessary in order to build at all, every one of the various features is worth all it costs. We build to better our condition, so it is wise to make the most satisfying job of it.
In this house the foundation is entirely excavated, forming a big basement divided into various compartments. An outside door to the laundry is a desirable feature.
The exterior of this unique Bungalow is shingled as far down as the window sills and sided below. Porch and terrace floors are cement. Roll roofing covers the house and is of particular advantage in the flattened porch roof. The terrace porch is covered only with pergola beams. There is a cellar which is 12x15 feet.
Plan No. W-9161 has an exterior similar to No. W-916. Working plans will be furnished with or without a basement. The enclosed porch is designed for using both screens and sash, according to season.
Here is an attractive Bungalow that can be built cheaply for the number of rooms it contains. The exterior is siding, with a simple treatment of wide boards and battens in the gables. The large plan is set on a low foundation while the floor line of the small plan is 2½ feet above grade.
Plan No. W-917 is a typical arrangement of a six-room Bungalow with the addition of a small den or office.
If cellar plan is desired, this will be furnished with plans without extra charge.
Plan No. W-9171 is an economy plan, affording most of the accommodations of six-room Bungalows. Many housewives prefer to use a breakfast alcove all the time, and so a regular dining room can be dispensed with.
Excerpted from West Coast Bungalows of the 1920s by Dover Publications. Copyright © 2006 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
A PERSONAL TALK ABOUT THE STILLWELL SERVICE,
PRACTICAL SERVICEABILITY of STILLWELL-PLANNED CALIFORNIA HOMES -,
EASILY ADAPTED TO MEET ALL CLIMATIC CONDITIONS,
THE TRUE COST OF BUILDING FROM STILLWELL PLANS,
GO TO ORIGINAL SOURCES FOR GENUINE BUNGALOW PLANS,
PLANS MADE TO ORDER,
SPECIAL SKETCH OFFER,