by Jane Powell, author & Linda Svendsen, photographer
This book, BUNGALOW: THE ULTIMATE ARTS & CRAFTS HOME, was Jane’s most impressive work & it is majestic, with 285 large, glossy pages. She referred to it as “The Big Book of Bungalows” & I’m not certain that she was enthralled with the publisher’s final choice of title.
Hewn & Hammered’s review of the book opined, “The book is written with humor and warmth, never taking its subject matter too seriously, which is a welcome alternative to many other books in the genre that treat these buildings as museum exhibits before their original purpose (and, in most cases, only purpose) as homes.”
A quote from an Amazon reader: “This is my first contact with Powell/Svendsen’s books, and while it is indeed coffee table size (it needs to be large to accommodate the beautiful photography) it is so charming and readable that, without so intending, I READ it (in one sitting, yet). We have several other books of gorgeous bungalows, many with the same houses as subjects, with accompanying commentary equivalent to dry stale cornflakes; this one is crumpets and cream. Like others documenting bungalow style architecture, this book is not intended as a construction or instruction manual, but as inspiration. For admirers of bungalow style and for those seeking a picture to replace the thousand words BUNGALOW: THE ULTIMATE ARTS & CRAFTS HOME is an easy choice.”
While her other books are much more instructional, there is much factual information to be gained from reading this book. Jane is an amusing teacher so you don’t notice at all that you are sitting in class.
FOREWORD TO BUNGALOW: THE ULTIMATE ARTS & CRAFTS HOME
Jane introduces the book with some beautiful shots of bungalows by Linda Svendsen, including the impressive staircase of Jane’s bungamansion, the Sunset House in Oakland. Walking up these stairs, so sexy that they made the cover of American Bungalow, photographed by Alex Vertikoff, is an awesome experience. I wish this word had not been appropriated to mean, “like, totally cool” because the huge Doug Fir staircase is truly, “extremely impressive or daunting; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear.” The workmanship is masterful, the dark wood lovely, & when you walk up these stairs, you are cocooned in the world of the wealthy 100 years ago. (Jane mentions, the builder was the owner of a lumber company so he got the wood wholesale, but still.)
As Jane says about it, “… this book deals with the philosophy, history, & influences that led to the bungalow as we know it in North America. Don’t worry, it’s not very scholarly. Most it’s a celebration of bungalows & everything on them & in them, & the Arts & Crafts movement they represent. I think that you will enjoy the ride.”
And by “ride” she meant a purple PT Cruiser. Mine was red.
CHAPTER ONE: THE COLOR OF WIND
This chapter addresses, what is a bungalow? Well, it originated in India, & ended up in California inspired by a socialist design movement in Britain in the late 1800’s. Explaining that architecture isn’t simple, she answers this question by encouraging us to “Think outside the chicken” -by reading her book & viewing the images, we will just come to KNOW. It worked for me & whenever I feel wobbly, I come back to this book to get straightened out.
A full description of the original bangala & the modifications made by the Europeans.
Getting Away From It All
The Industrial Revolution in Britain brought nostalgia for an idealized agrarian past.
The Seeds of Change
The Arts & Crafts Movement sprouts from the reverence for nature & ideas about design, & social & political reform.
CHAPTER TWO: IN FULL FLOWER
We learn about William Morris, the father of the Arts & Crafts Movement. There is a lovely quote about Morris which describes his many artistic passions & ends with, ..”& then he’ll do I don’t know what, but every minute will be alive.”
In my world, there is no greater compliment.
Pages of beautiful photos bring the copy to life as you learn to “Think outside the chicken” & begin to understand the soul of the bungalow.
Art for Art’s Sake
In this section Jane describes the Aesthetic Movement, which paralleled the A & C Movement, had the same roots & the same folks involved, but lacked the political & social philosophies of the latter.
I must admit to a great attraction to this design style. I see so much of the Arts & Crafts philosophy in the Aesthetic Movement & I really like their take on it. I especially like how its contrast of intricate small patterns inspired by nature complements the chunkier, more simple design of Arts & Crafts sharing the same inspiration.
In the Hare House, my Aesthetic collection adorned the dining room plate rails. In Tampa, I re-created the original divider shelves to display them.
The Bohemian Life
Jane is still in England, writing about the bungalows at the seaside that have acquired a bohemian reputation, representing a more simple life.
She stresses the fact that most of the Arts & Crafts houses were not bungalows, but looked to medieval designs for inspiration. It took Stickley to bring Arts& Crafts to America for it to assume it’s, uh, American form.
CHAPTER THREE: SMILING LAWNS & TASTEFUL COTTAGES
The Centennial Exhibition, held in 1876 spurred motivation for developing art & architecture that display American pride, though many bungalows clearly show European & Asian influence & you will see many images of this.
Global Inspiration, Indigenous Style
With the log cabin as inspiration, the bungalow was often more rustic. Jane continues on to describe the American flavor &unique local features found in bungalows across the country- with more of Linda’s lush photos.
CHAPTER FOUR: POPCORN & CAPITALISM
Ah! California, where the bungalow reached its full potential. She visits Northern & Southern California & it is here where we see my house in Eagle Rock.
The Ideal Home
In this section she writes more about plan books & other publications as well as kit houses. The building boom of the 20’s was spurred by the street car, then the automobile.
Freedom of Assembly
More pre-cut buildings from a greater number of companies continued the bungalow boom. I must stress again that the images tell much of the story! You are seriously missing out by not having this book! Clinker bricks, limestone columns green-stained shingles & granite piers, Oh my!!!!!!!
Icon & Irony
More amazing photos & a look at how the A & C Revival has outlasted the original Movement. Hey, I’m glad that Stickley is getting the admiration & recognition that he did not receive in his later years. And while it’s on my mind, let me suggest that you watch this incredible documentary Gustav Stickley: American Craftsman.
CHAPTER FIVE: ON THE STREET
This is the longest chapter of BUNGALOW: THE ULTIMATE ARTS & CRAFTS HOME & I don’t want to wear you out, so I’ll cover it in one section.
The porch, part of the Arts & Crafts ideal of the melding of nature with the indoors. The entry welcomes guests to enter & sit before the hearth. We see some beautiful fireplaces here of tile & of brick in various patterns. She goes to on talk about dining rooms showing an abundance of beautiful built-ins & rich wainscoting, including mine, the Hare House, on page 202. I had received the Roseville candleholders as a gift from the president of my neighborhood association who had fought valiantly with me against Walgreens. Being a bunny maniac, I paired it with the faux Roseville bunny vase which contains the most beautiful flower arrangement that I had ever done. In the heat of getting ready for the shoot, I had neglected to put water in the vase & the flowers barely made it through the day!
She has a couple chunky sections on kitchens & baths, though her Kitchens & Bathrooms book cover the subject more fully. The section on bedrooms has a full-page spread of my bedroom on page 238, despite Jane’s grousing about the room’s Victorianess. The man who built my house, the Reverend Alfred Hare was known as a church leader who would leave each congregation with a fully paid mortgage for their building, so I couldn’t really see him as a man who would fork out good money to replace a perfectly good brass bed. (And Jane herself was a great fan of the backstory.)
In the photo you can see my collection of embroidered cat pillows, (with my little Bukhai whose sweet story you can read here, snoozing on the soft comfie bed) my grandmother’s picture on the wall, my mother & uncle’s pictures on the dresser & my grandmother’s confection tin in which she kept her clean hankies. And the hankies were in there too!
After I moved to Florida, a new friend, whom I had met at an event I had produced for Jane, was getting the tour of my Tampa bungalow. When we entered my bedroom she became very confused saying, “It’s déjà vu. I have been in this room before. It’s déjà vu!” I feared that we were going to need to bring out the smelling salts! It took me a moment to realize that she had seen the original room in the book which she had purchased at the event. Being a kitty fan, she had loved & remembered the cat pillows.
CHAPTER SIX: STEWARDSHIP
Here’s where Jane & I shared a soul. And, I guess it’s why I want you to read her books. So, read ‘em, & also head on over to the section on my blog, PRESERVATION GROUPS. It is a work in progress & you are so-o-o welcome to let me know about others to add.
Jane’s rallying cry was, “DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!” & as a staunch preservationist, I stand with her on this.
CHAPTER SEVEN: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEAUTY
This chapter is Jane’s Random Musings.
Q. What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?
A. “Make me one with everything.”
BUNGALOW: THE ULTIMATE ARTS & CRAFTS HOME-IT’S ALL ABOUT MOI
The Big Book, (Jane’s name for it) AKA, BUNGALOW: THE ULTIMATE ARTS & CRAFTS HOME, is my favorite because it contains so many images of the house I lovingly restored & left behind in California after my crushing defeat in my fight to save a neighborhood building. Jane & Linda & I spent the day shooting which was fun & exhausting. I waited with great anticipation for the book to be published so I could see my house as well as the other houses in the neighborhood which Jane & Linda had shot several months earlier- dodging the Halloween decorations that had adorned many facades. I was pleased to see my house so well represented & amused by some of the accompanying copy.
The exterior of my house is pictured on page 107, with another from my neighborhood. The Arts & Crafts clubhouse of the Woman’s Club to which I belonged is on page 100. The sisters of the man who built my house raised the money to erect the clubhouse by performing the skits & songs that they wrote. 100 years later I had the privilege of walking in a fashion show to raise money to restore & preserve that same building.
My sunroom is pictured on page 161 with a Moroccan table which was recently pitched after out attempt to rid it of termites. (I live in Florida now! If you have any clue as to how I might be able to get another one of these, Please let me know.) My living room is on page 181. I sold the couch & matching chair when we left Eagle Rock because it was painfully uncomfortable. We had to take it apart to get it out the door & there was a dead, fossilized rat in it. That wasn’t in any of the books!
To buy this book, you’re going to have to search for it in the various on-line booksellers. KITCHENS is available in Kindle but the rest can require some sleuthing. My fingers are crossed that the rest will be Kindled soon.
READ ALL JANE’S BOOKS ABOUT BUNGALOWS!
Restoring the heart of the home.
Everything you need to know to restore or create a beautiful & functional bungalow bathroom.
BUNGALOW DETAILS: EXTERIOR
What makes a bungalow.
BUNGALOW DETAILS: INTERIOR
Your inspiration for a beautiful home.
& last but not least
It’s not vinyl!
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I wrote this article about restoring a bungalow the right wa-a-ay back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, around 2006 when I first moved to Tampa. I had left the little “town” of Eagle Rock, a historic neighborhood in N.E. Los Angeles, left the Hare House, a beautiful bungalow on the L.A. Historic Register which I had meticulously restored (the right way!), but brought with me new determination & a shiny new soapbox, after being defeated in the saving of the wonderful historic building, at our corners of Main & MainWe had fought a valiant fight, but greed & lack of our councilman’s foresight (He got slammed in the next election.) won out so instead of being treated to a view of one of the world’s most wonderful (& scarce) Streamline Moderne buildings on this planet, when you shop downtown, you encounter a Walgreens, sitting in a sea of parking.
I moved across the country, to one block away from a man who had defeated Walgreens, saving a block of historic bungalows & happily worked side-by-side in our neighborhood’s historic preservation committee with him until he died too soon. We had our work cut out for us in our neighborhood. Bisected by the I-275 in the early 70’s, the neighborhood suffered a sharp decline.
By the time I arrived in 2005, the neighborhood association had used its teeth to ignite a Renaissance, but what this meant was that our houses were ripe for flippers, looking to make a quick buck at our neighborhood’s expense. After experiencing a broken heart over & over in the search for my own bungalow, as I witnessed historic materials having been removed for builder grade garbage, I wrote this article for my wood flooring website. I was addressing homeowners, encouraging them to employ best preservation practices to their own historic bungalows, but hoped it would spill over to the flippers who cared zero about the neighborhood or history. A girl can dream!
RESTORING A BUNGALOW – THE RIGHT WAY-2006
Be a wise investor. Follow market trends & spend your money with an eye to the future- historic rehabilitation, rather than remodeling, modernizing or budget fix-up’s.
An older home is no different from any other antique. Would you replace the handles of a priceless Ming vase with new plastic ones in order to “modernize” or improve its use as a pitcher? Nope. It would be disrespectful to the culture & the artist who produced it & it wouldn’t be economical. You would reduce its value as an antique!
Craftsmanship has declined & the costs of both labor & materials have skyrocketed since these houses were built. You could not build a comparable house today for what you would pay for a fine old home with its antique features & wonderful character.
Here are some things I did (& did not do) & will (& will not do) to increase my home’s comfort, value & appeal, as well as lovingly preserve it for the next fortunate steward:
1. I researched my style of house, the bungalow, as well the philosophy behind its particular design, so that I could make correct decisions regarding its rehabilitation. It saved me much money & grief to learn from the experiences of others.
2. I DID NOT destroy historic materials. Where something needed repair, I gently repaired it, I did not replace it. Plaster, for example, provides a much more lovely surface than drywall & it is not difficult to patch. Wood floors can often be refinished. Do not replace them unless they are worn to below the tongue & groove. And if you must install new, use real wood. I had my lovely old wood windows restored when I painted my interior walls & they work smoothly, giving me a lovely, old world look into my gardens. It was not costly, which replacements would have been.
3. I did not remove or alter any character defining features. I DID NOT try to “modernize” or “improve” the house. I did not add odd bits of architecture, appropriate to other periods or styles of house. Consider how horrid a 60’s bathroom looks in a bungalow today. Well, 40 years from now, the currently fashionable spa style bathroom will strike the eye with the same degree of discord. Install a new “bungalow” bathroom (or one that suits the period of your old house) & it will never go out of style!
4. I handled the structural problems discovered in my pre-purchase home inspection, & I replaced the roof. Water intrusion destroys houses. I am ever watchful for signs of leaks.
5. I got my wood treated with Borates, naturally occurring mineral salts that are deadly to termites, carpenter ants & roaches. Considered harmless to humans & ecofriendly, I had all the wood that could be reached in the attic, crawlspace & everywhere, treated. I have my house inspected at least twice a year & keep an eagle eye out for signs of any & all types of nasty, wood destroying organisms.
6. Landscaped with plants that would do well in our climate & complement the style of my house. I did not use many Florida natives, instead going for an exotic tropical look, but I do recommend natives. I feed my plants with organic fertilizers & water the majority of them with a drip system which conserves water.
7. I planted a couple feet away from the house so moisture from the plants did not destroy the siding & it gave me room to do periodic inspections. I got new gutters which I had cleaned every year & put gutter extenders on them to run the water away from the house. My banana trees loved it!
8. I painted the exterior of my house with period appropriate colors. I made sure that all surfaces, inside & out, were well prepared so that the paint would adhere well & look good. If you have shingles, that have never been painted, keep them that way. Do not paint them. Just re-stain them. If some are damaged, replace those.
9. DO NOT stucco or put up siding which can become a haven for termites, rats and roaches & mold, & reduce the value of your property. If your house has these coverings, they actually can be removed. Often, the surface underneath is in surprisingly good condition!\n\n
10. I rebuilt the glass doored cabinets in the living room & dining room that had been removed by a previous owner. Prior to installing them, I photographed the areas where they would sit, documenting the fact that they were added, not original. I passed this information on to the person who bought my house.
11. I joined my bungalow neighborhood association & Tampa Preservation, Inc. I raised my voice for the built environment of our past. I encouraged others to raise theirs-LOUD!
12. Nearly 20 years later, I started a blog about bungalows, America’s favorite house. I’m hoping that my stories educate, enlighten & empower you in restoring a bungalow the right way!
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by Matthew Steger
With 20 years of inspecting bungalows under his belt, Owner/ ASHI Certified Inspector at WIN Home Inspection (Lancaster, PA) follows the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Standard of Practice, the nationally recognized GOLD standard for home inspectors.
Well respected in his field, Matthew teaches “Home Inspection 101” at LCAR (Lancaster County Association of Realtors) for Realtor continuing education.
Whether buying or already owning a bungalow, or any house built pre-1950, there are many things to keep in mind in terms of maintenance. Of course, if buying any home, whether it’s brand new or 250 years old, it is critical to get it professionally inspected. The inspector will spend about 3 hours going inside and out, top to bottom visually inspecting the home’s components and testing the systems to ensure that they are in working order and safe to use.
I’ve been inspecting homes since 2002 and, just when I think I’ve ‘seen it all’, something new seems to pop up. How well a home has been maintained over the years seems to be the key factor in what we find when inspecting it. I’ve inspected homes from the 1700s that are in better condition than ones built in 2000. Of course, a bungalow built in 1910 and still standing, shows resilience in its construction, such as its foundation. Even more interesting is when you realize that many areas only instituted building codes more recently. In PA, for example, we didn’t have a state-wide building code for homes until 2004!
Keep in mind, though, that home inspectors don’t only inspect bungalows that are being bought and sold. We also inspect homes for homeowners with no plans on moving but want a professional evaluation on the key components so they know what systems are in need of maintenance, areas that may be unsafe, or simply wondering how to help keep the home’s operating efficiency high. We recommend that all homeowners consider having a professional home inspection performed periodically. The things that we often find can more than enough pay for the inspection in terms of damage that may be caught now before things get worse in your cozy bungalow, even lives saved.
LOOKING AT THE SYSTEMS IN A BUNGALOW HOME INSPECTION
The main key components when looking at older homes are things like the electrical system, plumbing system, structural system, and the HVAC system.
Your bungalow, like all homes built before approximately 1940, would have typically been wired with knob and tube (K&T) wiring. It was an ungrounded wiring type that relied on 2 conductors meeting only at light fixtures, receptacles, wall switches, etc. It was also cloth-covered and splices were often only soldered and electrical taped. This type of wiring was also meant to be air-cooled meaning it relied on the air around it to not overheat. There should be no thermal insulation around knob and tube wiring, otherwise, it can potentially overheat.
If you think of what homes had in them, say, in 1920, and then compare to a home in 2022, there are night-and-day differences that will turn up in a bungalow home inspection. Homes in 1920 had basic appliances and most rooms had only 1 or 2 receptacles. Kitchen appliances were also minimal. Electrical services to homes in that era were often only 30 or 60 Amp which was sufficient for the electrical needs of those homes. Flash forward to 2022 and look at the modern use of homes. Multiple TVs, central heating and cooling, computers, many kitchen appliances, etc. Since the 1970s, 200 Amp service has been pretty much the normal for modern homes. Also, modern wire types, such as NM cable (also referred to by one of the product trade names, Romex) is standard which is a grounded, fully-sheathed wire type. In my home inspection travels I tend to find lots of homeowner (DIY) electrical work which can lead to a fire or someone getting electrocuted.
Wiring doesn’t get better with age and splices in older wiring tend to not be up to today’s safety standards. This is generally why many home insurance companies will no longer insure homes with knob and tube wiring. There is an increased fire risk. As part of a home inspection, the inspector will test the receptacles, permanent lighting, breaker panel, etc. and will note the presence of live knob and tube wiring, if visible. Most of these older homes, however, have been upgraded over the decades with modern wiring and modern breaker panels and fixtures. A lot of the time, I think, this was done to due ever-increasing electrical needs in these homes over the years. Also, most homes originally wired with fuses have been upgraded to more modern circuit breakers. Again, many insurance companies will no longer insure homes with fuses since they are more likely to present a fire hazard since the homeowner is more likely to install an improperly-rated fuse if prior fuses keep blowing.
Copper plumbing has been in use going back before the 1940s although other types with shorter design lives were also common. Lead and galvanized steel pipe were not uncommon in a bungalow home inspection. Lead, of course, can leech into the water supply and lead to neurological issues over time. Galvanized steel pipe rusts from the inside out leading to low flow over time. Galvanized steel pipe was generally last used in the 1950s and has an approx. 40 year design life. Leaking or rusting at plumbing connections and fixtures is not uncommon in older homes.
Drain pipes in older homes tended to be clay or cast iron. Galvanized steel drain pipes were also common. The underground sewer line between the home and the street is often original still in these older homes. I offer SewerScan inspections which is a video-recorded inspection of the underground sewer pipe to see what’s going on in there. I sometimes find breakages, blockages, tree roots, etc. Most homeowners assume the city sewer authority is responsible for the maintenance of these underground sewer pipes, but it is actually the property owner who must maintain and repair, when needed, these sewer lines. Some bungalows have been upgraded over the years with more modern plumbing materials, but that is not always the case. DIY plumbing tends to be somewhat common.
Just because you don’t see a tree in the front yard doesn’t mean a tree wasn’t taken down in the past and the tree roots are still there underground, searching for water. Tree roots can often detect water in nearby sewer lines and, in some cases, will grow into the sewer pipe leading to a blockage.
As mentioned above, homes from the early turn of the century that are still standing today is a testament to how they were built. Lumber from that era wasn’t kiln-dried like today’s lumber is. Balloon framing was common. A common thing, however, is that we rarely find walls and floors in older homes that are straight. Sometimes that is due to settlement over the years and sometimes we can sometimes guess that the floor or wall may not have been straight to begin with. Remember, these homes were often built to no building code so this is acrucial part of your bungalow home inspection.
In older homes, however, finding wood destroying insect (WDI) damage is more likely. Some of which is purely due to time.. the home has been there longer so it’s been exposed to potential WDI infestations a lot longer than a 20 year old home. Also, due to the lack of kiln-dried wood, insects that may have been in the wood prior to construction (such as beetles) often would survive and be introduced into the home to further infest in many cases. Also, many basements in older homes had dirt floors (compared to concrete today) so things like wooden supports and basement staircases were often in direct dirt contact which leads to rot and increases the chance of insect damage over time. Most of these older homes had their original dirt floors cemented at some point, however.
Heating and cooling systems have the shortest life span of any of the above mentioned systems so it is very rare that an original heating system in a home built in 1920, for example, would even exist anymore. In my home inspection travels of 2 decades, I have found maybe 10 heating systems (furnaces or boilers) that likely were installed pre-1950. They just wear out and fail over time not to mention the operating efficiencies that those older systems likely had (less than 30%) compared to modern systems (90+%). Finding parts to repair these older systems is often impossible. Also, homes were often not insulated up to the 1950s as energy was cheap, compared to today. By the 1970s, energy prices rose considerably and building codes required minimal insulation in attics, basements, walls, and crawl spaces. Properly installed insulation as well as higher efficiency heating systems have made homes more comfortable and more more efficient. Many turn-of-the-century homes were still using wood or coal up into the 1940s. Today, natural gas, electric, and fuel oil are the predominant heating fuel types.
Home cooling was around in the 1940s but didn’t really become the norm until the 1980s, at least in my neck of the woods (PA). In southern climates, it was earlier than that.
Heating and cooling systems should be professionally-installed and professionally-serviced on an annual basis. Basic home maintenance tasks such as regularly changing your air filter (if you have a furnace or heat pump) is a must. Regular maintenance and annual servicing of your HVAC system helps ensure it is safe to use, running as efficiently as possibly, and more likely to last a long time.
YOUR BUNGALOW HOME INSPECTION IS THE SUM OF ITS SYSTEMS
When I inspect, I consider each one and if you can think of each one of them separately, you’ll be more comfortable with your whole house.
Owner/ASHI Certified Inspector
A final word, because we know all know that I like having the last one- check out my article on how to restore a house correctly. It mentions several points that will help preserve your bungalow & help it inspect well when you decide to sell it.
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