by | Kitchens | 2 comments

kitchenYou are so ready for your bungalow kitchen makeover. Your current kitchen is a confusing mash-up of several decades of “updating,” a chronicle of the latest trends & a vivid tale of too many decades spoiling the broth. Yeah, that was my kitchen & the broth was more like toxic sludge.

Your lighting is a row of colorful art glass pendants from Home Depot, marching over your countertop, surely installed by the seller because the house had been on the market for some time & her Realtor told her to zhuzh up the kitchen. Your countertop is 80’s shiny black granite with a backsplash of some sort of fake stone with tiny holes in it- kind of a bumpy lava rock that is really hard to keep clean. Your flooring is grey stone tile from the early 2000’s, again bumpy & a challenge to wash. The cabinets are solid wood, probably from the 50’s, but are configured very oddly. And the windows are metal jalousies from the 70’s, that don’t even work. And then there are the stainless steel appliances- the built-in stove, the cooktop & the huge stainless refrigerator lurking in the corner. Yeah, me again.

So how would you even begin to create a beautiful kitchen?

Dynamite is not an option. This is just a picture.


babys room with rock musicianSo let’s examine this concept, shall we? Harmony is a principle of art which refers to how well all the visual elements share some similarity- color, shape, mood, texture, theme, time period- & work together. Elements which are in harmony will have some kind of logical progression or relationship. They will integrate- go together to form a pleasing whole.

During my teen years, we used to use the word “clash” to express disharmony. One of the definitions of the word is, “a violent confrontation.”  We used it to simply mean, “look ugly together.” I have to say that I have seen styles together that are worse than ugly. They are clearly at war!

Here’s an example. You go in a baby’s room & it’s painted a soft color, there’s the crib with the baby blanket it, the soft mobile, the floral stencils on the wall. It all makes sense. There’s no life size stand up of a heavy metal rock star positioned so baby can see it when she awakens from her nap. And why not? If there is an element which is not in harmony with the rest of the artwork, it will be jarring- a flat note in a song, a pig’s head on a horse’s body, plastic handles on a Ming vase- heavy metal in the baby’s room. Clang!


In historic structures, the harmony is created by the use of the different elements which denote the time period- shapes, materials, proportion, layout. These were determined by the builders of the era based on the factors present in the culture & the technology of the time period. Get it? A logical progression or relationship based on a time period. Individually, these are called, “character-defining features,” those visual & tangible aspects of the historic building which tell its unique tale- time period, place, demographic, etc. They all work in harmony to create a visually appealing aesthetic. It’s basic design theory. Cultures, fashions & technologies change, creating trends. That’s why when you walk into a bungalow with an avocado 70’s kitchen, you have a strong reaction to it. And not a good one! It’s a flat note. Your first instinct when you start your bungalow kitchen makeover is to tear it out & donate it to landfill. Here’s a great article on bungalow vibe, written in 1901, that will provide a solid understanding of how to achieve bungalow harmony.


bungalow kitchen makeoverTwenty years from now, that new, shiny, 2023 grey kitchen will strike the eye with the same jarring note & it too, will land in the dump as the current kitchen incarnation is installed. You are far better off aesthetically, historically & financially to look back at the art of the period kitchen & take inspiration. Me, I want a museum kitchen, but not everyone does. It’s actually pretty easy with Jane Powell’s Bungalow Kitchens as a guide. Knowing the elements of an old kitchen will assist you in creating a period inspired one.

This is why I have spent the last several decades of my life not just advocating, but also educating on how to plan a harmonious bungalow kitchen makeover. HGTV, with its rip it out philosophy, hits way more living rooms than I do so I talk fast and loud, but I will never forget when a woman walked up to me after Jane Powell’s talk on kitchens that I had produced and said, “I get it now. A sleek Euro-kitchen is totally out of place in a bungalow.”




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  1. Cara Davis

    It takes courage to not succumb to the styles of the time and honor authentic bungalow materials and layouts.
    I’ll get there!

    • bungalow101

      Well, I think you do a pretty good job of it & you have definitely done your bit for preservation!


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