By Old-House Journal and Old-House Interiors
Most of us, when we move into a new house, can’t wait to spruce things up. Not these homeowners—they lived in their bungalow for almost a decade before starting to restore it. Once they went to work, their familiarity with the house paid dividends; they had a clear picture of what would work in terms of both the home’s age and their lifestyle (not to mention, they’d amassed a treasure trove of vintage light fixtures!). We think they’re proof that sometimes it’s better to take it slow.
Think it’s not possible to achieve a gorgeous restoration for $5,000? Think again. Homeowner Chris Wilson bought his Victorian-influenced bungalow just after graduating from college and, with the help of friends and a whole lot of elbow grease, did just that. His number-one secret to success? If something works as is, leave it alone.
With a few floor-plan tweaks and some fresh paint colors, this Pasadena couple took their modest bungalow from shabby to chic. We especially love their kitchen and bathroom transformations, which rely on period-appropriate touches (poppy-patterned art tile, a cozy breakfast nook, a luxurious salvaged pedestal tub) to make the most of small spaces.
We’ll admit, this bungalow had a bit of a leg up on the competition: One of its owners is Larry Kreisman, who’s been the program director at Historic Seattle for more than a decade. His eye for combining his stunning Art Nouveau collectibles with the house’s Art Deco and Arts & Crafts influences is nothing short of deft. This is far from your average bungalow—but that’s exactly why we love it.
We’re fond of this Portland bungalow because it proves that it’s never too late to change your mind. Midway through their restoration, these homeowners realized that something was a little off, so they brought in a pair of historical design consultants for advice. Although many original details had already been removed, the team worked with what was left to envision a rebirth for this long-neglected house.
With all that rich woodwork, bungalows can often feel dark and heavy, but this charming Massachusetts cottage bucks the trend. Owned by an antiques dealer, it’s got plenty of wood to give it an Arts & Crafts feel, but her delicate collections (including lacy vintage linens and blue-and-white transferware) help keep things light and airy. This eclectic interior serves as a reminder that the best way to decorate a home is with things you love.
What’s remarkable about this restoration is not so much the work itself (though we applaud the homeowners’ eye for antiques and meticulous matching of an original wallpaper remnant), but rather how it was financed. Located in Hollywood, this Craftsman bungalow has been the location for several productions, including an episode of Monk and an Energizer battery commercial. The owners put the proceeds from these shoots toward restoration projects, one at a time.
You’d never guess that the spot-on woodwork, lighting, tile, and other fixtures in this Michigan bungalow are all reproductions—but they are indeed. When its owners bought it, the home’s interior was a bland 1980s-style aberration with dusty-pink walls, minimal white-painted trim, and lackluster beige carpet. Their careful study of Arts & Crafts design brought it back to its roots, and serves as proof that anything’s possible with a solid vision.
Our favorite feature of this Knoxville bungalow? The second-floor sleeping porch, which had been boxed in for decades, disguised as a kitchenette, until a conversation with a woman who had lived in the house when it was first built inspired the homeowners to do some digging. The sleeping porch is but one of the house’s charming original details—it also boasts a butler’s pantry, a breathtaking staircase, a massive front porch, and a Standard Pembroke bathtub.
Homeowner Jane Judge is a lucky woman—her son, Nathan Modisette, is a master craftsman with an affinity for the Arts & Crafts movement. He spearheaded the restoration of her Santa Barbara bungalow, incorporating plenty of Greene & Greene-influenced details (and adding his own artistic flourishes) along the way. The result is an eye-catching melange of materials (copper fixtures, amber seeded glass for windows and doors, maple cabinets trimmed with cherry) that combine to create an inspiring environment.
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