I had tried innumerable times to figure out a decent floor plan but was completely stymied. I knew that Bungalow Kitchens by the lovely & brilliant author, Jane Powell, held all the answers, but I had read it 18 times (Well, a few of those times I just drooled over the pictures.) but I had failed to find them. So, a preservation advocating neighborhood activist, I invited Jane to address my local association on the subject of said kitchens & Darling Husband fetched her from the airport.
She had just arrived in Tampa after having flown for 10 hours from Oakland. It was almost midnight (though admittedly only 9 PM Oakland time) & I was giving her a snack in my kitchen. I had been planning my kitchen restoration for 5 years. I hadn’t managed it in my L.A. house & was planning to give it another go in Tampa. (See how that worked out here!) My kitchen was awful. It was a mishmash of 50’s cabinets, a black marble countertop, fake stone tile flooring, Miami metal windows, a 60’s wall oven & a who-knows-when cooktop. I had allowed the previous homeowner to take the Home Depot pendant lights that hung over one section of the counter & had empty wires hanging down. The kitchen has 3 doors- from the dining room, to the back porch & a pantry that had probably been a butler’s pantry, but was now the world’s ickiest laundry room/pantry. I was puzzled by their positioning.
JANE – QUEEN OF BUNGALOW KITCHENS
So in walks Jane, who standing, eating a carton of strawberry yogurt, whirls on her heel & starts laying out my kitchen. It took her about 14 seconds to figure it out & 5 seconds of that was poking a strawberry seed out from between her teeth. After she said it, it seemed so obvious! How could I have considered anything else?
We spent the next 3 days driving around Tampa to the consulting appointments I had set up for her. In kitchen after kitchen, she worked her magic suggesting layouts, fixtures, colors, everything but menus. Like myself, people were dazzled by her simple, yet genius solutions.
Jane, sadly is now gone, but, she left Bungalow Kitchens behind so if you’re smarter than I am (Many people are.) by reading & studying the book, you can quite easily create a bungalow kitchen of your own. In fact, somehow one of my friends got overlooked & after Jane left Tampa, I planned her kitchen for her, a la Jane, & it turned out great!
THE BUNGALOW KITCHENS MANUAL BY JANE POWELL
The book is formatted in a similar manner to Bungalow Bathrooms. In it, Jane explains how she learned about bungalow kitchens. “I learned a lot from doing it myself; I learned a lot more from my mistakes.” The best thing about this book is that if you study it & apply what Jane knew, you might not have to make those mistakes.
What I am offering here is just an overview of Bungalow Kitchens by Jane Powell. It comes across as pretty dry, but the book itself is beautiful & entremely entertaining.
Jane starts off with the History of the Modern Kitchen, hearkening back to Colonial days,describing it as being primarily the domain of women. Moving forward a couple centuries, she quotes Stickley. “In planning a house it should come in for the first thought instead of the last & its use as a dining room as well as a kitchen should be carefully considered.” She also mentions that at this time, almost all architects were men who likely did not cook, or probably even pick up a dirty dish, what did “considered” actually mean?
Last I noticed, thinkin’ & cookin’ involve different muscle groups.
The book includes a whole section on Greene & Greene in which the kitchens feature the design elements so that we know so well, cloud-lift relief, the unpainted wood, complex, decorative joinery all of which have the same problem-very tricky to clean. You can’t see food, fingerprints or other smudges on it. Granted, the homes that had such kitchens, designed by the Brothers Greene & others, were staffed with servants whose job it was 12 hours a day, to handle any ick, but that’s not your usual kitchen. I know it’s not mine!
I’m going to step in here with an observation of my own. G&G are very well known, & their kitchens are often erroneously construed to be examples of how a bungalow kitchen ought to be. But the houses that they built were very grand & their grand kitchen design was harmonious with the design, scale & materials in the rest of the houses. Most bungalows lack this grandeur in design & scale. Additionally, our kitchens were built with paint-grade materials, not the gorgeous, perfect, hand-selected wood used by the Brothers, & our more modest kitchens were, you guessed it- PAINTED.
Let’s move along through the rest of Bungalow Kitchens by the knowledgeable & eloquent Jane Powell. (Yeah, I’m a fan. Super fan, really.)
Nuts and Bolts
Electricity & lighting
Dishwashing & sanitation & cleaning tools
Cabinets & cabinet doors
Hinges & hardware
Stoves & refrigerators
Jane includes many diagrams of cabinets here detailing the parts & structure of cabinets.
Handles, knobs & pulls
Jane shows diagrams of different styles of hinges, knobs & pulls & fasteners that would be appropriate choices in a bungalow kitchen. She explains, “Hardware is like jewelry for the kitchen: the interplay of doors, drawers, hinges & knobs is an important part of the design.”
Countertop materials: wood, ceramic tile, linoleum, stone & metal
Walls & ceilings\n\n
Stoves from Victorian to ‘50’s
Iceboxes to refrigerators
Hiding the microwave
Hiding the refrigerator
Layout & Design
The work triangle
Determining the original layout
Adding modern conveniences
Matching new features with the old
Starting from scratch
Assessing Your Needs and Dealing with Professionals
The stress & mess of it all
Contractors & subcontractors- tile setters, painters, flooring pro’s, carpenters, cabinet makers, electricians & plumbers
Interior Designers & building inspectors
Home centers, hardware stores & lumberyards
Doing it yourself
Linda’s photos illustrate numerous beautiful kitchens & their individual elements. She shows many different color combinations & cabinet configurations in a nice array of both original & newly created retro. You can also see some very cool dishware, potholders & small appliances here. I collect (hoard?) all this stuff so it was a major treat for me!
You can visit Jane’s website & read more about her here.
I encourage you to read the overviews of all of her books.
P.S. I have the permission of the family to speak about Jane & her books & to use the images of her, some of which were provided by them. And here I talk about my own special relationship with this extraordinary woman.
The book is out of print, but available on Kindle. You’ll need to search online until you can find a copy. There’s usually one out there somewhere.
READ ALL JANE’S BOOKS ABOUT BUNGALOWS!
& last but not least
STAY IN THE BUNGALOW KNOW!!!
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