With all the current travel restrictions in place, let’s pack our virtual suitcases and take a trip to the UK to explore what cottage life looks like from the UK perspective.

English Cottage
English Cottage
cottage vs. bungalow

Spoiler alert: It’s significantly unique from a North American perspective. But it’s interesting to see how cottages evolved in England and the UK. (No masks required for this venture!)

In the UK a cottage and a bungalow look very similar and could be easily confused for one another. They both have similar definitions, yet there are some clear differences between both types of properties.

In this article we will be going through the differences between a cottage and a bungalow, and why they are seen as so similar.

Let’s get into it!

Cottage vs. Bungalow

Definitions of Cottage and Bungalow

When you look in any dictionary, the definition of a cottage is a small house in the country. While the definition of a bungalow is a one storey house. Therefore both are seen as small houses that can be confused for one another.

Normally a bungalow is only one storey, that is seen for anyone who is older in life, as it means they don’t have any stairs to climb. You can find bungalows anywhere in the world.

While cottages are mostly found in the countryside, and some people see them as a vacation home away from the city.

Appearance of Cottages

In the United Kingdom cottages are seen as small homes that can be two or three story’s high. They are seen as being quite old fashioned in their appearance, which is the charm of them.

Cottages are known as being a cozy home that are found in rural areas.

Often thought of as a second home or a holiday home. A cottage is very rustic, with normally very high pitched ceilings. Often a cottage will have a thatched roof, which adds to the rustic and rural element of this type of home.

Older cottages will be just one storey and all open planning, however more modern cottages have been creating an attic from the high ceilings. This then turns this space into a second bedroom.

A classic bungalow

They are normally built with stone or wood and have a gabled ceiling, which can be thatched. A brick walkway is seen with these kinds of homes, and they have very small windows.

Cottages were originally from England, therefore their design was made to support their cold weather.

Therefore, they have been specially designed to keep the damp, cold air out, therefore the house should stay warm on the side even in bad weather.

You can find cottages near lakes, beaches, woods and any rural areas. They are ideal for families or anyone who wants to escape life in the city and get back to nature and simplicity.

Appearance of Bungalows

There are a few types of bungalows, which then alters their appearance. A bungalow can be at ground level or slightly raised above from ground level with stairs leading up to the front door. Bungalows are traditionally built with large windows and only one storey.

They have open floor plans, but the style of bungalows have changed over the years. They can be built from brick, wood and concrete.

It is common for bungalows to have beautiful gardens and large porches. The porch will have some kind of covering that will shade the area from the sun and heat.

They are very spacious and as it is only one storey it is more suitable for older people. Yet you can find bungalows all over the world that house families as well. They are incredibly easy to maintain, seen with sloping roofs.

History of Cottages

The term cottage originates from England, where they were a very common sight in the countryside. Early cottages had a ground floor plan, with any roof space being used as bedrooms.

They were built during the middle ages, for farmers and their families. These were very small homes that were also sometimes referred to as huts.

As time went on, the style of cottages changed and they became a two up two down layout. Hence, there would be two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs. Some cottages have grown quite large, while others have retained their small nature.

However, the style of cottages has changed, but the original design features have always been kept.

History of Bungalows

Bungalows originate from the 19th Century in India. The first modern version of a bungalow was built in Bengal for English officers during the British occupation of India.

The bungalows were made low to the ground with a wide and sheltered porch. The porch would give shade from the hot sun to its inhabitants.

The design of bungalows has been adjusted to suit the region where it is being built. In the 1900s, bungalows grew in popularity all over the world and in the USA, due to the influence of the American Arts and Crafts movement.

These movements favored a much more simple aesthetic, which a bungalow provided.

After World War 2, there was a boom in bungalow popularity. These homes were ideal for single families, and as a bungalow is only one family they were seen to be much more low maintenance to look after.

Different types of Cottages and Bungalows

The type of bungalow or cottage that you come across does depend where in the country or world that you live. Each type of home is adapted to suit the location it is in.

Most cottages are built using wood but where they are built is what separates a lot of these different types of cottages apart.


Cottage Painted in Yellow

Here are some types of cottages that you could come across. They all look similar but, you will just notice a few slight differences.

  • English Cottages – These are the most traditional types of cottages that you can find. They will generally have thatched roofs and gardens. Sometimes plants will grow up the sides of the house. These are always found in more rural areas.
  • Nordic Cottages – You will find these cottages in Nordic areas and are normally a vacation home for families. They are built from wood and painted red. The red paint is to make the cottage stand out in the summer and winter, so it is easy to find.
  • American Cottages – In the USA, cottages are also known as chalets or cabins. They are normally found near water or in the woods and built from wood.
  • Canadian Cottages  – Canadian cottages are not meant to be lived in, they serve the purpose for holiday homes only. You can find these types of cottages near lakes or rivers. They are normally two stories.


Blue bungalow

Just like cottages there are different varieties of bungalows, depending on the location that they are built in. However, bungalows can be built with a wider variety of materials.

  • Classic/Craftsman Bungalows – These are a more classic type of bungalow. They normally feature a street facing gable and shingled roof.
  • California Bungalows – A California bungalow differs from a classic bungalow due to the materials that are used to create it. No bricks are used, but instead a stucco or redwood is used instead to construct a california bungalow.
  • Prairie Bungalow – Designed in Chicago, this type of bungalow has large piers which are used to support their casement windows and porch roofs. Alongside this, prairie bungalows have contrasting walls and trims and a flat chimney.
  • Modern Bungalows – These look modern, with a classic bungalow construction but with more modern features. Corners are normally curved and they are typically made from bricks. Glass and concrete.


Both cottages and bungalows are seen as small homes. However, there are some differences that set them apart.

Cottages are constructed in a way to retain heat and to keep the cold out. Small windows and thatched roofs are very popular features of a cottage. They are typically seen as holiday homes located near nature.

While a bungalow is seen as more of a full time home that can be found anywhere. They have large windows and a porch that shades its inhabitants. Cottages can be multi storey, while a bungalow will only ever be one story.

It is clear why people might get confused between both types of homes, but now you can tell the difference between them both.

Thank you for sharing your time with us at Today’s Cottage Living!

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Greg Jones

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