If you want to have a successful bungalow restoration, you need to take a hard look at your own goals, your own tolerances, your own proclivities, way before you even start looking for your dream house. Too often people fall in love with a house & as much as it is true that love is blind in human relationships, so it is with old houses. The wraparound porch, those beautiful old, wavy glass windows, those stone columns- they will hypnotize you as quickly & as thoroughly as any handsome, smoothing talkin’ man, who turns out to have wives & kids in 3 states.

I tend to be a starry-eyed idealist, tempered by 40 years of running a construction business & restoring 5 old houses in different stages of disrepair. What this means is that I dream big, but I always have a plan. That doesn’t mean that I never jump off a cliff & build my wings on the way down (Ray Bradberry gets credit for that one) but in the main, I protect my heart by carefully evaluating what I want & what I need to have to get it. Especially when it comes to money & believe you me, old houses love money!

Following my advice will mean that you may choose to walk away from many projects into which you would have blithely leaped. So, some houses might not get saved. On the other hand, if you do follow my quaint words of wisdom, you are more likely to succeed & maybe do 2 or 3 more down the road. (Though you will feel like a horrible person for turning your back on a house that is crying out for help. Just know that upfront.)

Many of you are in the middle of bungalow restorations now. I have some ideas in my article, WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF RESTORING AN OLD HOUSE? that might help. I am not a construction consultant, just an old lady who knows some stuff, so evaluate my words & see if they apply to you.

This is a large subject & I’m going to break it down as much as possible. Off we go!


1. I beg you to consider whether restoring old houses is the passion you most want to stoke. Make sure that restoring a historic bungalow aligns with your basic life goals before it takes over your life- because it will. There is every chance that it will cause you to skip getting your teeth cleaned “just this once,” forget your husband’s birthday, miss a ballet recital or 2, & run up that credit card that you stashed 5 years ago for emergencies only & it will cause you to lose many nights of sleep. Guaranteed.

So why would you decide to do it anyway? Because like the singer who must sing, the artist who must paint or the musician who must play- you HAVE TO. Restoring & advocating for old houses is how I communicate with the world. If I were to have to swear off the reno’s, or step off my soapbox, my soul would be muted. I would wither & & die. Not really. I’d probably just gain 50 lbs. & whine a lot! No one within miles of me would be happy.

Do you have this crazy passion like I do?

2. Will you enjoy the process? Kurt Vonnegut, in a letter to high school students, wrote, “Practice any art, music, singing, dancing, acting, drawing, painting, sculpting, poetry, fiction, essays, reportage, [including restoring old houses] no matter how well or badly, not to get money and fame, but to experience becoming, to find out what’s inside you, to make your soul grow.”

Depending on the condition of the house that you buy & what your dreams are for it, the tunnel may stretch for several miles before you see even a flicker of light, any money or fame, or even a room in which you can sit & read a book without having to wear PPE. If you cannot love the journey, every step can be painful. It’s hard to be a good cook if you don’t enjoy chopping the veggies. (I hate it.) You might as well skip the garden if you don’t enjoy the weeding. (I love it.)

I enjoy most everything about the construction process. Rolling out the plans with the architect, trotting down to City Planning to submit them for approval makes my soul grow.  There’s something to me that feels right about looking at a pile of materials in the garage & anticipating the arrival of the carpenter

No, I don’t like having no kitchen for a couple months or walking in after a brief absence to see that the tile was installed in a very weird pattern around the sink, but all in all, I enjoy the process as much as I enjoy the final product. And it’s a good test of what’s inside of me.

3. How much mental stress do you want/tolerate? Do you like to live a quiet life with few surprises? I personally don’t recommend it, but I know that I have a certain tolerance for random crap & try not to invite much more than I feel I can deal with. There’s always more than anticipated. These bungalows are o-o-o-old houses. Surprises are part of their very nature.

How mentally nimble are you? If black suddenly becomes white, can you quickly rearrange your thinking? Can you look at what is really there in front of you without flinching (Taking the afternoon off to get used to it is ok!)

4. Can you tolerate having to tell people what to do? Can you correct them & tell them to do it again? Can you admit to yourself & someone else when you’re wrong? The care & handling of tradespeople is a vital skill. Sign up for my newsletter & you’ll get a guide to hiring, but like all other human relationships, it can be bliss & it can be torture.

5. Can you tolerate the scarcities & delays in receiving materials? (Who knows when it will get any better?) Every timetable that you have worked out is probably going to crumble.

6. How well organized & intelligently planned do you tend to be? Can you keep order when on any one day, you may be speaking with 5 tradespeople on the jobsite, 3 on the phone while sorting out a jumble of 20 receipts.

Strangely enough, planning & being nimble go together. The better planned you are the more easily you can hop from Plan A to Plan B because its already sitting there for you. You don’t have to scramble for it. For example: Do you have a place to live if a sudden situation requires it? Can you round up the clan & get everyone out of there with no notice because you have gotten your evacuation ducks in a row?

7. Do you have the physical strength to trot around a jobsite in the pounding rain, brutal heat or freezing snow? Can you tolerate the chemicals that you might encounter on the site? How about the dust, the mold, the toxic materials used in old houses? Are you willing to research what you need to do to keep yourself & your family safe? (Here are some helpful videos if the answer is yes.)

Can you navigate around work & materials? If you’re living in the house, can you deal physically with the noise & fumes & the constant messes? Can you keep yourself & your family safe?

8. Some people see money as it is, something that you can exchange for something that you want to have. Some see it as a scarce commodity, anxiously monitoring every penny in, every penny out.

Money is going to be flying around like leaves in the wind in any restoration. There are so many unpredictable factors in any project that you need to have a bit of a casual viewpoint about money, or develop one fast.

9. The neighborhood. Many old houses are in old urban neighborhoods that have seen better days & may have more than their fair share of crack houses. I am in awe & admiration of the intrepid pioneers who come in despite the blight, despite the crime & bit by bit, turn it into a real neighborhood. Are you ready to be a pioneer?


I am not suggesting that you limit yourself. You are capable of more than you know. You can develop these tolerances as you go.

Learning more about the bungalow, about construction, improving your health- all these things are your feathers with which you can build your wings as you figure out how to soar. And that’s why I’m typing away at this merry blog.

Meanwhile, search your soul. Take honest measure of your passions & your pitfalls. Hearing the grateful thank you of a house saved from neglect or remuddling is a wondrous thing.

I think it might be like holding the baby after 36 hours of delivery. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And then she looks into your eyes & grabs hold of your finger with her tiny hand. Definitely worth it! But it is imperative to truly know thyself, before you can have a smooth & successful bungalow restoration.

But wait, there’s more to having a successful bungalow restoration! If you have a significant other who will be impacted by your project, read Part 2.


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bungalow in need of restorationSo there you are. Standing in front of a derelict house whose potential charm & beauty just need to be revealed by the loving hand in a successful bungalow restoration. Sounds perfect. Well, let’s take a look at this perfection before you decide that it will be your hand & not so incidentally, your purse & just as importantly, your sanity & your marriage.

There are probably 1,000 articles out there on getting loans, finding a home inspector, but, this step is before that. It’s just after you have decided to KNOW THYSELF.

In my 45 years in the construction industry, I cannot tell you how many times the house went on the market immediately after we completed a large project. The happy couple came to us all excited about the new house/the big addition/the major restoration. We met with them together & grew fond of them as a family. Being the flooring guys, we were always the last ones on the job, & too often by the time we got our final check, the payment was going through a lawyer.

I wanted to address this issue because though our marriage has weathered the storms (Read that- storms of driving rains, back to back lightening flashes & high decibel thunder.) of 5 projects, I have seen reno/building stress tear relationships asunder.

According to a law firm specializing in divorce, these are the 5 most common reasons for a couple to get a divorce. Let’s see how that might apply to bungalow restoration so you can head these off at the pass.


  1. Infidelity

There’s a great deal of opportunity in a restoration for infidelity, which can be defined as “physical or emotional engagement with someone outside a committed relationship.” One partner’s love for the house & passion for the project is often much greater than the other’s leading to an abandonment of previously made agreements, a diminishing of communication & accord. It can cause people to grow apart.

Weekends used to be fun nights out, or cooking with friends, but now one partner is too tired or too obsessed with finding doorknobs & tells the other to just go alone. And out he trots, to be introduced to friends attractive, newly divorced  cousin. She’s easy to talk to & is interested in the same things he is, one of which, notably, is not old house restoration!

  1. Lack of intimacy

Any idea how tired you’re going to be at the end of the day? Work from 9-5. Come home & survey the work that got done during the day while you were gone, make your list of questions & punchlist items, or, pick up the heat gun & strip paint until your eyes cross.

After a lively discussion about said  punchlist items, as seen from your differing viewpoints- he’s firm, she’s more, easy-going- & a shower to get the plaster dust out of your hair. All you want to do is hit the sheets. “Not tonight, honey.”

  1. Communication

What we saw in every one of these marriage failures was the lack of communication from the very start. They each went into the project making assumptions about how the other one thought or felt because they hadn’t discussed the prime issues & 1,000 pieces of miscellaneous minutiae that pop up like weeds in spring, in even the smallest construction project.

Different people have different points of view, different tastes, different ways of handling life. All of these have the potential to blow up during the weeds of a project. My suggestion is that both of you take a look at KNOW THYSELF on your own & then discuss what you find there with your partner. (I know that I already linked it once. I’m being more emphatic this time.)

Just work it all out before you start making decisions, writing checks & finding out that you need new plumbing & foundation repairs & there’s a rat problem. Create a strong team & you will save yourself much $$$, time & heartache.

  1. Speaking of $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

You need to appraise your finances together, taking into account your combined earning power & the whims of the world economy. In other words, what can you really afford, not what can you squeeze out of every possible bank account, retire account, investment, credit card, relative, kids’ piggybanks, etc. How much $$$ have the 2 of you decided that you can afford to throw at this beaten up bungalow before your children start looking gaunt & ragged?

And, do you have such an abundance that it this current inflation of materials continues, can you cover it?

And if you get into this project that seems so simple & straightforward but is actually just a mess held together with termite spit, can you fund that without causing a disruption to your family’s plans?

Bottom line- what priorities as a unit do you place on your money? Is investing time, money, energy & love in a house part of your allover life plan together? If he wants to send the kids to an orthodontist & an Ivy League school & you are fine with crooked teeth & community college, there’s going to be enough discord to make the neighbors start shaking their heads, even if you close all the windows!

5. Addiction

Well, who hasn’t been driven to drink during a restoration project? It’s tempting to see the situation as temporary & get into some ba-a-a-d habits. Perhaps at this point I should suggest my article on becoming discourage because it actually doesn’t suggest that you settle in with a bottle of vino at the end of a hard day. Even together.

I just want to urge you to take a look at your priorities together- time, money, family obligations. Many folks are willing (& able) to sink fortunes into houses that may never hold a great deal of financial value. Are you this person, or do you consider your house to be an investment on which you would prefer to show some return? And as importantly, what does your significant other feel? Get it worked out before your relationship is tried by the fire of a restoration project.



Hire a ContractorOnce upon a time, I was standing in line at a Japanese take-out (great place!)& stepped back when I noticed the grungy guy in front of me. He was wearing a t-shirt that had seen 1,000 better days. It was a bit hiked up in the back, & I could almost see his heinie protruding from his well-worn, baggy jeans. His hair, was long & tied back in a raggedy ponytail.

Imagine my surprise when, after ordering, he turned around to display the twinkliest blue eyes I have ever seen (Yes, that includes Santa.) & the biggest most beautiful smile. He grabbed my husband in a big hug & they both bounced up & down exclaiming their extreme joy at seeing one another.

Turns out that this raggedy guy, who upon further inspection was spotlessly clean & fresh, was an old house contractor for whom my husband often worked. Garrett enjoyed a stellar reputation in Los Angeles & with our company because he consistently delivered beautiful work, & ran his business- scheduling, communication, legal, etc. – meticulously & heartfully. After this fortuitous introduction, he performed a great deal of work for me at the Hare House & I was always happy to see him & glad to pay him. Upon further acquaintance, I learned that he conducted his entire life in this fashion, being an extraordinary husband & a loving, enthusiastic father. I only wish every contractor I met had been even similar to this wonderful man. He was just not a fashion plate!


Maybe not. I wrote the E-book, 7 VITAL Things to Do Before You Hire a Contractor, after reading terrible & sad stories on the old house, Facebook, group blogs. In every single story I could see the exact moment at which the project fell apart, the money got ripped off, the house got ruined, the heart got broken. Looking at my own hearbreaks, I could see the same pesky factors at play.

After 45 years as a specialty contractor (wood floors) & old house restorer (5- here’s the most awful one!) I have seen my share of horrifying surprises, so I decided to write a little book in hopes of making someone else’s path a wee bit smoother.

I established my company based on the firm policy of always exceeding the customer’s wishes & any time I failed to do this, examined every step of the process to find out how I could make it better next time. It’s always easy to cast blame on the other guy, & with any failed job, there is always plenty of blame to go around. However, there was always some piece of it that I had to call my own whether or not it made me highly uncomfortable to do so. And it did.

So I took my experiences on both side of the contract to see if I could create some advice that would be useful to a homeowner when they leap off the cliff & hire an old house contractor.  I’m a big believer in jumping off that cliff & building my wings on the way down, but it helps to at least have a bag of feathers & maybe some chicken wire before giving it all up to gravity.

This article is just a teaser. To get the whole book, you have to sign up for my mailing list. But that’s a good thing to do. You’ll like it! I send pretty pictures once a month & links to interesting & helpful stuff.



You have purchased a 100 year old (give or take) bungalow. You have your home inspection in your hand & you want to move forward on your restoration. You are not a DIY’er & do not plan to be one. You have a demanding job, perhaps a family & other responsibilities. You’ll need to hire an old house  contractor or contractors, & you’ll be depending on the kindness of strangers to turn your house into a home. So, how do you find the best strangers?

I wrote training manuals for 40 years so I am big on proper sequencing & I loves me a checklist. So here are my suggested steps.

Find out:

  1. What is a bungalow? What are best restoration practices?
  2. What are your own needs?
  3. How do I find good tradespeople in my area?
  4. What else do I need to know about these folks?
    A. Referrals
    B. Reviews
    C. Go legal.

It’s only at this point that you start talking to people.

  1. How do you conduct the first interview? What should you ask? What should you request?
  2. The Proposal- what should it include?
  3. How do I make sure that the restoration is satisfactory?

I go through each one of these steps in detail, in fact, each step is a section with sub-sections! I like to break it up to make it easy to understand & doable. I talk about your goals, your expectations, your money, & the joys of living life on a jobsite. I spend a great deal of time addressing the contract because that’s the basis of all that will transpire.

(That having been said, I am not a lawyer. Neither this article not my little booklet, should be construed as being legal advice. It is friendly direction- my tale of what has & what has not been effective for me. While I’m at it, I will mention that I have done all the steps I suggest & still gotten a crappy project. ‘Tis the human condition but, when I haven’t done it, I have gotten a crappy project 100% of the time!

I have no training beyond what I got in a ballet studio, no credentials, no licenses, no nothin’ in the construction trades nor in law. I have only my experience from which I draw & I can boast of having lost over $50,000 on a single project because the contractor I hired should have been in jail & ended up there soon after I fired him!)

Old typewriter


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old-houseLong ago, when feebly attempting to restore a Folk Victorian, I discovered that the biggest challenge of restoring an old house is battle fatigue. It’s extremely easy to get disheartened. I know I’m not your mother (Disclaimer: I think I’m everybody’s mother.) but I restored this miserable Folk Victorian & learned some great lessons. I had to, in order to survive! I also had to keep going so that I would lose only $50,000 instead of $250,000.

I started the restoration with a more experienced partner who thought it would be a great project & when it turned out not to be, of course bailed on me. And, not surprisingly, my contractor was a complete bozo who bailed on me too-a blessing in the end.

To make things even more crazy, soon after I purchased the property, the Recession hit hard so my wood flooring company lost over $30,000 that quarter as we feverishly slaved12 hours a day to keep jobs coming in & our guys’ families fed. And every dollar I put into the restoration, working on it in my non-existent spare time, turned into 50 cents. Kind of like black magic. The really awful kind of magic that turns fluffy little kittens into poisonous bufo toads before your very eyes.


The wonderful neighborhood in which the house was located, Tampa Heights has a rich & colorful history as Tampa’s first suburb & boasts a large historic district. Most of the houses are lovely Victorians, bungalows, some Med-Rev’s with a smattering of Urban Renewal (Boo! Hiss!) infill. After decades of neglect & resultant blight, it has an active neighborhood association & I was eager to contribute to its revitalization. Additionally, I’d also never put my hands on a Victorian & was looking forward to dolling it up with periwinkle paint & gingerbread. However, the house was in bad shape & the challenge of restoring the old house was ridiculous. Yet, I continued on with the delusion that someday I would have a living room (L) & a kitchen (R), looking out on the back yard, (which of course was nothing but a patch of tall weeds) like these folks had.


Here in Florida we joke that the only thing keeping an old house standing is the termites holding hands. Well, that was pretty much the story here. I ended up saving only a tiny amount of the original structure. Everything we touched just turned to dust. Pretty much every piece of lumber had to be replaced-walls, ceiling, floors, windows-everything.


So what did I do in order to keep my wits sufficiently intact to get through this awful mess?

0.  After much weepin’ & awailin’, I reassessed the amount of time, money & attention that the project would actually take. This was a hard one because the original estimation of effort, etc., was about 1/5 of what the situation was.

1. I made a list of the tasks that needed to be done in sequence. Each step that looked scary, I broke down into bite size bits. If they still looked scary. I chopped them up more. This is the important part. The chopping.

2. I evaluated my resources, determining what I needed for each of my steps & wrote a plan for securing items/people/skills that I didn’t have. My contractor was a scumbag who showed up some days but not others & left the jobsite such a mess I got cited by the City & had to buy many materials twice. Hey! This is Florida! If the termites don’t get it, the moisture & the heat will. And Code Enforcement’s riding right behind!


There was still a ridiculous amount of work to do, including going backward because we had missed some framing inspections. Here in tropical storm country they take those hurricane clips seriously!

3. Once I was aware of what was in front of me, I focused on purpose. I have been a dedicated & vocal preservationist my whole life. My mother, born in 1919, taught me about the times in which she grew up & about her mother’s life on the farm. I loved those stories & when I grew up expressed this love by preserving the built environment where these lives were lived.

As a neighborhood activist for many years, I know the power of neighborhoods. I had been connected with the neighborhood association from pretty much the first moment I arrived in Tampa Bay. The first house on which I put in an offer was just around the corner. I knew & loved many folks in the area who had put blood, sweat, tears, time, $$$ & heart into revitalizing this terrific remnant of Old Tampa.

4. I took really good care of myself. My inclination when I get stressed is to head for the ice cream & potato chips. I chose veggies & protein instead & religiously took my supplements. I went on at least one walk every day & did my yoga stretches. This point is very important because if you fail to maintain your health, it becomes more difficult to perceive, to think, to make good choices & to maintain your jolly disposition.

The challenge of restoring an old house can make you old. Time & money, the main buzzkills in life are being stretched to the max. Whatever you thought it would cost, you’re going to 3X it. You’re going to sleep less, worry more & even with your PPE, you’re going to be in contact with some grisly stuff.

Yeah, I do think I’m your mama, so watch these videos on health & nutrition. I am so not kidding here.

5. Part of my staying healthy was making sure that I did not expose myself to construction debris. My first walk through of the house resulted in a sinus infection that lasted 8 weeks. I got myself a nice stock of N95 masks & made sure I wore one any time I went in after that. I learned this lesson doubly hard when one day, I stopped by, maskless & decided to just peek in. At that very moment, a wall came crashing down like nuclear blast of mold & plaster dust. And probably cockroach detritus. I was filthy from head to toe. I went home, totally grossed out by the clothes I had been wearing & jumped in the shower. A second 8 weeks of painful nose. I expanded my mask policy to include peeking in.

This is a group of videos about the importance of wearing the correct PPE. It applies any time you are on a jobsite. Whether or not you are performing the work, you are in a potentially unsafe environment.

I kept 1 through 5 going because without those I was doomed. It is too easy to become discouraged during an old house restoration & allow those things to slip. Too busy, just a few potato chips today- I’ll be better tomorrow. Nope! I held firm making sure my special treats gave me the nutrition I need to withstand the stress of running a project 37 levels about my knowledge base. I focused on one task at a time, completed it & moved on to the next. I love check marks & I accumulated them like a miser with his gold.

6. I celebrated every win & tossed the failures out the window. (I had quite a pile!) I stoked that purpose by cruising the internet for gingerbread choices & pictures of restored Folk Victorians to keep me looking forward. Finally, it was time to face the last challenge of restoring an old house- go outside in the Florida August heat, humidity & mosquitos to plant the garden. We’d wait until the sun went down when it was marginally cooler, put on our bug repellent (Mine was olive oil with crushed garlic which didn’t smell too great but made my skin quite lovely.) pick up our handyman, don our headlamps, & work on the dark gardens for an hour. Any longer was unbearable.

And then one day, it was complete & I received my certificate of occupancy & the newly restored house was added to the inventory of contributing structures in the historic district! A few months later, I was awarded a banner from our local preservation advocacy organization for my “outstanding historic preservation project.” My beautiful little periwinkle with plum doors, Folk Victorian!

TIP: Another good one to read before you plunk down your hard-earned cash is HAVING A SUCCESSFUL BUNGALOW RESTORATION, Part 1.



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Into every life walks a handful of people who impact your life profoundly. Jane Powell, bungalow  author, restorer & advocate, was one of them for me.

Mid-century-living-roomIn the winter of 1998, I walked out of my 1966 MCM house in Pasadena where I had lived as a renter for 8 years & gasped to see a FOR SALE sign in the yard. My landlord, who was a darling fellow, had purchased the house shortly before the housing crash in1990, & after having it on the market for some time, decided to put it up for rent. We had moved from Arizona where housing prices were about 1/3 of what they were in L.A. & we decided that renting was our best choice. We were very happy there & eventually would have probably purchased it but for the fact that it was 3 stories hanging off a cliff and my knees were starting to object. And the earthquakes were pretty pretty wild suspended 100 feet up. But hey, my husband always assured me, our house was on bedrock!

Faced with having to move, I kinda panicked. I am not known for being easy to please. I am known for my ability to kick 100 houses to the curb & here we were with an unknown deadline. The L.A. market was heating up, the house was stunning, the area, amazing & I was trying to run a contracting business, set up a lender & find a house that I desperately wanted, totally uncertain as to how long I had before my bags were packed & on the street.


Spool-televison-in-a-bungalowI looked at my 100+ houses.  At that time, you didn’t have the option of cruising through images online.  Your Realtor printed a list of options for you & you drove & drove & drove. The main area in which I was looking, Eagle Rock was hilly & the streets very windy so it was challenging to find the houses, aided only  by my trusty Thomas Guide. (Life is way easier now!)

Eagle Rock is a bungalow community in N.E. Los Angeles. Later I learned its history & its culture, but at that point, I was just looking for a house, a horrible undertaking given the amount of destroyed historic fabric I encountered. I mourned the loss of these features & every day I would come home & cry, & end up with a tummy ache. I realized that I was going to have to DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, but at this point,I was clueless as to what this might be.

Then one day, I found my house-a 1910 Craftsman with long, matted, pink shag carpeting that reeked of eau de doggee. Looking up from the scary carpeting I gazed at sprayed popcorn ceilings & wondered at the lumpy stuff coating all the wood trim- wainscoting, plate rails, & box beams. (Yeah, someone had sprayed between the beams.) A heavily resin coated spool table sat squarely in front of one of the leaded glass bookshelves that flanked the fireplace. A television sat on the spool, clearly a place of honor as all the furniture pointed at it.

On the positive, I had walked in through the original door with its 1910 hardware & beveled lites. The living room was large with a nice, big picture window, looking out at a mature pine. The original gas lights were still there on the box beams, now fitted with electricity. x The leaded glass doors were still there beside the fireplace. All the interior doors were there with their lovely old hardware.  All the original woodwork was there & I could imagine the wood floors under the gross carpet, waiting for me to come & rescue them.

In the dining room, little Dollar Store pigs modeled tiny straw hats bedecked with itty-bitty flowers, atop the Douglas Fir plate rail because, as the homeowner explained, she loved, “Country.”

There was a vinyl pop-out window behind the sink in the kitchen cheerfully adorned with more molded resin tchotchkes depicting life on the farm. The bathroom had blue plaid wallpaper, with pink flowers trailing through it.

The closet of the master bedroom had been turned into a half bath & a truly disgusting vanity with a sink sat outside the closet door, in the bedroom. Yeah, I yanked it out & replaced it with a antique washstand & ceramic washset, but I didn’t use them!

But, it had many original features that were beautiful & I could see past the pigs & spool to know that this was my house.

We put in our bid. On the street, on the hood of my Realtor’s car. Trembling, while trying to look casual. My husband hadn’t even seen the house & here I was, leaping alone into this huge decision. I didn’t care. It was meant to be my house.


Magazine-with-old-bungalow-kitchenI was terrified. I had no idea what it would take to take this house back to 1910 & I was already 30% over budget. The kitchen was my greatest concern. I jokingly told my husband that I needed to find an article called, “Bungalow Kitchens on the Cheap.” I was on the edge of retracting the offer. I mean, I’d seen The Money Pit, & though I’d never owned an old house (or any house for that matter) I had lived in several & knew their tendencies.

That night we took a walk through downtown Pasadena & went into a bookshop. I poked around the magazine rack whilst Hubby browsed the Sci Fi.  This magazine sat on the shelf with an article by Jane on creating old kitchens on a budget. Honest. This really happened.

The deal closed & we started rehabb’ing, pulling out the carpet, scraping the gooy stuff of the woodwork, & refinishing the floors. A month later, we moved in. I couldn’t live with the chemical smells so kept the house wide open during the day, but at night, closed it (It was late December, chilly even in Southern California) except for the windows above my bed. And I ran a fan. I slept in long underwaer & sweats & wore a knitted hat pulled down over my ears & almost to my eyes. Yeah, I was cold, but I didn’t care!


I had seen Realtor signs about the neighborhood & one day ran into said Realtor at Trader Joe’s. It was home tour time in nearby Pasadena & for some reason I asked when we’d be having our tour. She told me that the committee was meeting that night to start planning the first one. Honest. This was the answer to my question of what could I do about it?

I rolled up my sleeves & became a neighborhood activist. I learned how to speak for these buildings, telling their stories that I could hear clearly, but found that others needed to have the volume turned up.


Bungalow-author-Jane-PowellAfter the first tour was pulled off beautifully, I invited Jane to come and speak at a town meeting. She had written Bungalow Kitchens & Bungalow Bathrooms which I adored. I was stunned when she agreed to come to our little town.

Jane was so much like me that it was scary. We both had red hair & drove P.T. Cruisers. Purple was our mutually favorite color & we loved kitties. We both fervently believed that there was a special place in H-E-double-chopsticks for people who destroyed historic buildings. We were a coupla loud broads on a mission.

I have always loved old things- houses, furniture, clothing. When I was 6, I had an elderly neighbor whose very elderly mother was bed-ridden. She was left alone all day so every day after school, I scooted over & listened to her tales of how the world was when she was young. It changed me. Growing up I owned a vintage clothing store, collected antiques and always lived in old houses.

But my passion was unkindled, my path undetermined, until I bought that magazine & met Jane Powell.

Jane passed in 2012. Her heart & her humor left an indelible imprint on many of us. She transformed my life giving me beauty, purpose & community.

These many years later, I am still made happy & content by old houses. Now retired, I have the time to indulge myself & my chocolate is still bungalows.

Thank you, Jane Powell, bungalow author, expert preservationist, delightful individual & darn good friend.





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Film projectorThis post is an overview of my videos, arranged by subject, with a link that will take you to the various topics with a brief description of each individual video. Each one has been thoughtfully chosen to provide the most information, best images & most charming presenters for the given topic.

I find that fully understanding the bungalow requires having knowledge of its history, both as to both design & philosophy, some education on how the various parts work, some familiarity with the culture of the period & lastly, why preserving these charming houses is so important.

The videos will provide you with all of the above, directly from the foremost experts in preservation & art. I hope that you love them as much as I do!






An expansion of our article, WHAT THE HECK IS A BUNGALOW ANYWAY?, these videos walk you through the history, philosophy & architectural features of the bungalow.


Tour 3 houses to learn about the features that we love in a bungalow.





Learn their history, their construction & how to identify them.


Amazing tales of derring-do as Eric collects 100 year old woodworking equipment from decaying mills.





The late 19th Century was a time in which the roles & rights of women were expanding. The women of the Movement were highly influential both in art & in the culture.


Inspired by the log cabin, Stickley, a furniture maker, brought the Movement to our country, giving it an American attitude.


Brothers Charles & Henry Greene designed some of the most beautiful houses in America. Tour some of the houses, learning from a wide variety of experts, from museum educators to a carpenter who explains the wondrous joinery for which the Greenes are  so well loved.


Wright is regarded as the best American architect in history. In these videos you will visit several of his houses & you will also hear, in Wright’s own words, his concepts of good design as he speaks scathingly of what he considers to be poor architecture.


Charles Rennie Mackintosh is the most well-known & loved architect & designer of Glasgow, Scotland, influencing the Movement worldwide.





Choosing lighting for your house is one of the most important decisions you will make. Hear what Brett Waterman has to say about employing Arts & Crafts lamps & fixtures to enhance the aesthetic of your home.


Anyone can become a collector.


Learn about the charm & value of this disrespected material.





Learning about architectural salvage is imperative for any old house owner. There are times that reproductions are better choices but when you need old, they got it.


In these videos, several top historic preservation experts teach you how to repair siding & discuss different types of replacement materials.


Every house has one, but what are they & what does it mean when your floor is uneven, or your inspection report recommends foundation work


What does the term “old growth wood” mean? How does it differ from newly farmed & harvested wood? What does it have to do with your house?

Most importantly, what part does this material play in the restoration & maintenance of your house?


These guys wrote the book on paint!





In these videos you will hear some inspiring talks about the value of preservation, culturally, financially & aesthetically.

Film reelLIFE & TIMES



From a restoration of a very old & sad toaster to the story of a happy collector. Pour yourself a cuppa tea & enjoy some a piece with jam!


Just go directly to my YouTube playlist & view them all!! While you’re there, SUBSCRIBE!

TIP: If you want to know how you can benefit by becoming an educated bungalow owner or admirer, read my article HERE!



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