Wondering what this room was for in a 1940 bungalow/cottage

word_docJuly 15, 2013

Hi! We are under contract to buy a 1940 bungalow. The floor plan is a little unusual compared to most of the other homes I've seen in the area. I drew a rough (not to scale for sure) floor plan in MS Paint--it was the only thing I could think of to use and I've never used it before. Anyway, I was wondering what the room was used for. It does not close off to the living room but communicates with it via a large opening between the two rooms such that if we were to close it off with french doors, they would probably have to be custom made because of the size of the opening. So both rooms were clearly originally open to each other, but they are definitely separate rooms. As in most bungalows, the front door opens right into the living room.

Normally one of the rooms might be the dining room, but there is one of those already, and it has a china cabinet built in and is right off the kitchen, so it's definitely meant to be the dining room.

Maybe a parlor? Were those even being done by 1940? A library that was open to the living room?

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

A 1920's house I lived in once had a similar setup--two rooms connected by french doors, with a clearly designated dining room off the main living room. The second room could be used as a bedroom or a "front parlor" for important guests, depending on the family's needs.

As the house was in Boston, it really was called a parlor. Excuse me, "parluh." Unless the family called it the front room.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2013 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had a 1929 Tudor bungalow with a similar layout. LR, DR and kitchen down one side with "den", bedroom and bedroom down the other side, the two sides separated by a hall, with the bath at the end of the hall. Virtually identical to yours, swapping laundry for a BR and eliminating the stairs (I had laundry in the basement). Mine had an arched opening between the LR and den, but a cased opening and a door onto the hall. I used the den for my TV room and had a nicer set-up in the living room with the fireplace.

Depending on where you're located, they still could have very much been building the same type of bungalow in 1940.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 12:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Lots and lots of possibilities.


If there are a lot of windows, it could be a "sun room" or a sleeping porch, which were very, very common.

Bungalows became HUGELY popular (early 1910s) in direct response to the Germ Theory. Suddenly, we KNEW what was killing off our children: An invisible enemy that could be defeated with proper cleaning. The Victorian was too hard to keep "sterile" so the Bungalow Craze took off.

Sun rooms and sleeping porches were very popular in early 20th Century homes for the same reason.

Some rooms were also dedicated "radio rooms." No kidding.

And first-floor front bedrooms were also very popular.

My guess is that it was just a regular bedroom. As you see from the images below, it was not unusual for bedrooms to open right off the living room.

The "Oxford" (Aladdin Kit Homes) had a dedicated radio room!

The Bandon (Sears Kit House) had a "Dining Porch" just off the living room.

This house (American Homebuilders catalog) had a bedroom just off the living room, and I think that's what YOUR front room is.

Here's another house (from Aladdin) with two bedrooms just off the living room, and the different floorplans have the doors opening off the living room, or a small hallway. In a smaller house, having a bedroom open off the living room saves the space of another hallway.

In conclusion, I'm pretty confident that your front room was a "chamber" or a bedroom - even in 1940.


Here is a link that might be useful: Bungalows and the Germ Theory

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 9:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My Noni had a similar room in Western NY. I was told it was a convertible room. Used as a multi purpose space that could be converted to a bedroom temporarily for someone in poor health that couldn't negotiate the stairs to the upper bedrooms, it would have been easier for a caregiver as well.

It could be used as a guest room as well as it had a built in Murphy bed.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 12:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yes..........that was often the case, sort of like what we call a bonus room today. It was also a carryover from older designs, like one sees in Victorian or Federal houses. The second parlour or sitting room, often with pocket doors but most always at least an arch between them. I've had the 'second' living room in many of my old homes and we often used it for informal family use and saved the main one for formal entertaining.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 3:17PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My grandmother's friend had a similar set up in a slightly larger home. It was the office for the owner, who sometimes worked at home (even back then). It was a cute little room and even had a little fireplace.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 7:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Without knowing what what's going on in your second floor/attic, I would wager a very large bet that the ? room was originally a bedroom. Most bungalows of that size with only an original unfinished attic had 2 bedrooms on the first floor.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2013 at 9:18PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Yay, thanks for all the ideas and thoughts!!! I loved all the bungalow floor plans, rosemary--thanks!! Are you the lady with the awesome sears catalog house blog? i love that thing!!

I don't think it was a bedroom, as the house has three upstairs bedrooms that I think were original (all three once had fireplaces and the walls are all plaster). I suppose it's possible, though. Also, the opening between the two rooms is pretty huge. I'm planning to use the room as an office/studio type of space, so it's good to know that's not far off one of the reasonably possible original uses.

Just two more weeks, if everything goes as planned. Can't wait!!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2013 at 5:38PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Original Heart of Pine Flooring - matching
Hello, I have a contract on a 1905 Edwardian row house....
Plaster stamped like tile?
My house was built in 1915. I am tearing out some 60s...
Hi. I have never posted in this particular forum before,...
New windows in kitchen for 1926 house
We are planning a kitchen and bathroom remodel in our...
Stair striping and refinishing advice
I ve been stripping and refinishing my stairs in my...
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™