by | Kitchens | 4 comments

Bungalow-Kitchens-by-Jane-PowellI 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.


Bungalow-kitchens-author-Jane-PowellSo 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!


Colonial-kitchenThe 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. My version comes across as pretty dry, but the book itself is beautiful & extremely 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.

Gamble-House-bedroomThe 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.


The knowledgeable & eloquent Jane Powell (Yeah, I’m a fan. Super fan, really.) gives us everything, including the kitchen sink. I’m just going to zip through a list of topics because touching even a bit on each one would be a ridiculous chore.

So here it is:

  • Electricity & lighting
  • Sinks
  • Drainboards
  • Dishwashing, sanitation & cleaning tools
  • Countertop materials
  • Cabinets & cabinet doors
  • Drawers
  • Hinges & hardware
  • Plumbing
  • Ventilation
  • Stoves & refrigerators

Take a breath. A deep one.

  • Cabinet details- Jane includes many diagrams of cabinets here detailing the parts & structure of cabinets.
  • Flour bins
  • 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
  • Flooring
  • Walls & ceilings\n\n
  • Appliances
  • 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

And another breath. We’re almost there.

  • Assessing Your Needs and Dealing with Professionals
  • The stress & mess of it all
  • Architects
  • Contractors & subcontractors- tile setters, painters, flooring pro’s, carpenters, cabinet makers, electricians & plumbers
  • Interior Designers & building inspectors
  • Salvage yards
  • Home centers, hardware stores & lumberyards
  • Catalogs
  • Doing it yourself
  • Resources
  • Bibliography

Mixer-in-a-bungalow-kitchenLinda’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.


Everything you need to know to restore or create a beautiful & functional bungalow bathroom.

What makes a bungalow.

Your inspiration for a beautiful home.

All things bungalow.

& last but not least

It’s not vinyl!



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  1. Fay Jones Day

    This is a helpful book for anyone trying to restore their kitchen. Jane Powell made a tremendous contribution to the Bungalow community. It’s tragic that she departed so soon.

    • bungalow101

      Yes, she changed my life & yes, I really miss her.

  2. Marjorie A Krull

    I absolutely love Jane’s books. I have two copies of her kitchen book…one for reading upstairs and one for reading g downstairs! Our 1918 Swiss Chalet Arts and Crafts home is not a bungalow, but I know of no there books covering the period as well as hers. My own kitchen breaks all sorts of rules. We bought the house with a totally non-functional kitchen. 1980s decorating, two mismatched, poorly installed Youngstown cabinets, a leaky sink with barely a trickle of cold water that took forever to drain. We do have one original built in cupboard, originally a soft, creamy pale yellow. All the other woodwork in the kitchen, including the picture rails, were originally stained. We inherited it with three doors and a large window. As we uncovered the 1950s and 1980s coverings, we discovered there had been a 4th door in the small kitchen. Much of the original heart pine floors were rotted and termite eaten. In places, the 1980s Armstrong vinyl floor was the only thing we were walking on…boy that stuff is strong! Not period correct, but strong! Joists have been replaced, new red oak floors laid (our floor issues are another story). The good news is that because the kitchen is so small I can afford to have custom cabinets made in the same design as the original. I did not want to move walls, etc., so the refrigerator is now on the back porch and the microwave is in the pantry. The house originally had two pantries. The larger, butler’s pantry was converted into a compact, full bath in the 1950s. It was a practical idea, so it will stay as a bathroom.

    • bungalow101

      It touches my heart when I hear of your love for Jane’s words. She was an amazing researcher. Her love of the subject & her curious nature (probably learned from her kitties!) inspired her to dig deep & wide. We are so fortunate to have her books, imbued with her feisty spirit.

      It sounds like you made some good & practical choices. Yikes on the termite eaten joists & floors! It is sometimes possible to find old kitchen cabinets at salvage outlets. I have seen a couple at Doc’s in Springfield, Tennessee- I’m figuring you’re in the Southeast- heart pine & termites! And I have a post on salvage resources you might want to check out.


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