Category Archives: bungalow

I Saw the Light

After browsing the fourth different version of the Pottery Barn holiday catalog (sometimes I think they just rearrange the order of the pages and slap on a new cover every week), I decided that our porch needs a little update before Christmas.

I’m not talking about PB’s lanterns and garlands and light-strung topiaries and $90 wreaths. Not that I don’t admire those things – I really, really do – but a pair of poinsettias and some strands of C7s are more in my price range right now.

 No, I’m thinking of a more lasting improvement, like replacing our rusty, cobweb-encrusted porch light (though, ahem, touching up the trim around the door might not hurt, either).

A new light fixture is a relatively small update that will look extra warm and inviting in the winter, but will also add some much-needed class to our porch all year round.

 As usual, though, we can’t make up our minds. 

 Do we want to go for arts and crafts flair, like one of these lamps from Old California Lantern Company? On the one hand, it would be a perfect match for our new Craftsman door. On the other hand, these guys don’t come cheap.

 This one feels like something a 49er might carry down into a gold mine.

Then there’s the classic black arts and crafts lantern from Rejuvenation.

But I’m also drawn to this simple clear globe  from Pottery Barn – which just so happens to be on sale.

This coppery PB lantern isn’t bad, either.

Or how about Restoration Hardware’s elegant Victorian lantern, complete with faux candles?

 It’s hard to say. In the meantime, the plan is to wrap so many Christmas lights around the front porch that visiting friends and relatives won’t notice our tarnished light and nicked-up trim (fingers crossed).

Photos from Pottery Barn, Old California Lantern, Rejuvenation and Restoration Hardware.

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Filed under bungalow, California, christmas, exteriors, Holidays, Victorian, winter

Homes for the Holidays

I know it’s a tad bit early, but I’ve been doing some window shopping and I think I found what I want for Christmas.


What’s the only thing better than a restored 1906 Craftsman? A restored 1906 Craftsman located on an island in San Francisco Bay, of course.

Okay, so we’re not even in the market for a new house – let alone one going for prices like this. But I like to keep my eye on what’s out there in Northern California. I call it research – very important research. Here are some of my very important findings.

 The porch alone was enough to sell me on this one. The red door is just the icing on the cake.

If Craftsmans are my favorite, Dutch-Colonials are a close second.  

Of course, nothing beats a big ol’ Victorian in gold country. I grew up around here, and home is where the heart is.


Something tells me I’m going to have to settle for a new coffee maker this year. And maybe some warm socks. But it doesn’t hurt to dream, right?

Photos via listings on Click on pics for more details.


Filed under bungalow, California, historic houses, old houses, real estate, Victorian

Getting a Handle on Hardware

It’s all coming back to me now.

After spending weeks poring over magazines and swatches and brochures for my parents’ kitchen remodel, I’m starting to recall just how many little details it takes to make a blueprint a reality. Sure, there are the paint colors and cabinet styles – that’s the easy part. But do you want your cabinet doors to have a regular overlay, full overlay or a flush inset? Do you want your countertops to have a mitered or non-mitered edge? Will cabinet hinges be hidden or visible? So many choices.

It’s enough to make even the most prepared planner’s head spin.

The latest do-or-die decision involves hardware. Home Depot and Lowe’s have a decent selection of contemporary handles and knobs, but they don’t fare so well with the traditional end of the spectrum.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to introduce Mom and Dad to specialty companies like Rejuvenation, White Chapel and Van Dyke’s Restorers. (Fun fact: I just learned that Van Dyke’s is owned by Cabela’s, the hardcore hunting/fishing/outdoors superstore – weird.)

Anywho, I knew what I wanted before I knew where to find it: shiny nickel-plated Shaker bin pulls for drawers and latches for cabinets. Van Dyke’s selection fit the bill perfectly.

I’d be happy to see my parents go with the same, but I’m also excited to see the outcome of something different.

Like glass hardware that mimics the classic crystal door knob, for instance.

Or traditional arts and crafts choices like square knobs and dangling drawer pulls.

Then there are the medieval-looking strap hinges that conjur up images of a cute Tudor Revival cottage. I can’t believe I couldn’t find a photo of a kitchen with these guys.

I like to imagine those cast iron hinges on white cabinets – I love the contrast of black hardware in a light kitchen.

Hardware is sort of the icing on the cake – it’s not going to make or break the room, but it really adds a finishing touch. But enough about what I like – what’s your favorite old house hardware style?

Images from, Van Dyke’s Restorers, Plain & Fancy Custom Cabinetry, Rejuvenation and CrownPoint Cabinetry. Click on photos for more info.


Filed under bungalow, interiors, kitchens, old houses, renovation, Victorian

Home Business

I can’t count the number of times I’ve gotten excited over a cute little cottage with a for-sale sign in the front yard, only to realize it’s zoned for commercial.

Sometimes it seems like half the historic homes in my town have been converted into businesses.

And while I think a mom and pop coffee shop can make a charming resident for a little old bungalow, it seems like an old house’s character and quirks sort of go to waste when it becomes, say, a law or insurance office.

And does it get any quirkier than this one’s brick wall?

I guess I like to be able to picture myself living in an old place – and a parking lot out front and fast-food joint next door disrupt my daydreams.

Of course, I’m probably missing the point. Most converted houses are situated on busy thoroughfares– good for business, not so good for raising your family. Then there’s the historic preservation aspect. I’m thankful that I live in a city where businesses and planning departments had the fortitude to preserve many (though certainly not all) of our old buildings. Better that the houses be used than left vacant and, ultimately, torn down.

Still, I sometimes imagine myself buying one of these businesses and turning it back into a home. But you know what would be even cooler?  Converting a historic school, church or – believe it or not – a post office into a home. Wish I had the guts to take on a project like this one.

Michael Luppino/This Old House

 U.S. Post Office becomes first-class home


Filed under bungalow, cottages, historic houses, old houses, real estate, Victorian

Tour Guide

Access to cool apps was the reason I bought my iPhone – yet I’m usually too much of a cheapskate to actually pay for them. But I may have to make an exception for some of the new historic architecture apps.

It started when I learned about FanGuide’s collection of mobile guides featuring stories, photos, maps, audio and video of Prairie School style architecture in Illinois and modern architecture in L.A.

I can’t wait to try out the Los Angeles app, but, while I appreciate Frank Lloyd Wright as much as the next girl, it got me wondering if there were any programs focused on the kind of older architecture that’s more my forte.

Turns out New Orleans, Charleston and Savannah (all on my vacay wish list) have walking tour apps centered on historic homes, buildings and districts. There’s also a similar app for Montreal.

On the west coast, What Happened Here? offers up historic trivia based on sites in San Francisco and L.A. (for instance, did you know the first electronic image was transmitted from the bottom of Telegraph Hill, marking the birth of TV? Or where Robert Louis Stevenson lived and wrote in San Fran?)

It’s a little early for Halloween, but Wicked Walks provides information about supposedly haunted old houses and locales across the U.S.

Finally, Historic Places is a more general app that searches your current location for districts, sites, buildings and objects with historical significance.

So that’s the run-down for now. I’m crossing my fingers that some techie Craftsman fans are hard at work on a few bungalow neighborhood tours at this very moment.

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Filed under bungalow, historic houses, mid-century modern, old houses, travel, Victorian

Southern Eye Candy

I expected to find country music, humidity and Andrew Jackson in Nashville.

What I didn’t expect to find was such a cool collection of old houses.

See, when we planned the Southern trip we took earlier this month, we specifically scheduled a stop in Asheville, North Carolina because I’m a bungalow freak and Asheville is supposed to be a bungalow paradise – sort of like the Pasadena of the South, minus the smog. They even hold an annual Arts and Crafts Conference at the very arts-and-crafts Grove Park Inn.

But somehow we managed to miss most of the bungalows, partly because we were in the wrong neighborhoods (Victorian and Craftsman-inspired mini mansions – and castle-inspired real mansions – rather than the modest cottages I was after).

And partly because we just plain ran out of time.

So I couldn’t believe my luck when, soon after arriving in Music City, we drove through row-upon-row of – you guessed it – bungalows.

And Tudors, four-squares and colonials. And some styles that I just couldn’t place. Some were residences; some now housed record labels and recording studios.

So I did what any old house lover would do – I broke out my camera and started snapping away like a madwoman, hoping to bring some Southern inspiration home with me.


I only wish we had more time to visit the many historic places in the Nashville area. If you’re going to judge a place by how it preserves its old buildings, Nashville is top-notch.

Plus, it’s got character.


Filed under bungalow, exteriors, old houses, travel

Take a Number

Those who haven’t been bitten by the old house bug don’t understand. Those who have accept it as a way of life. But there’s no denying it – old houses need work. A lot of work.

Photo by RobbinLara/

Well, maybe not this much work.

But with all the pricey and/or time-consuming projects planned for our house lately – painting, new siding, tediously scraping popcorn off our bedroom ceiling – I’ve been on the lookout for a quick, affordable project. Something I can do in 10 minutes yet will really make an impact.

Then it came to me – address numbers. What would be easier than replacing our cracking plastic numbers with some shiny new ones?

As it turns out, house numbers might come cheap (though not always, as I recently learned) but they don’t come easy. Why? Because there are so many styles to choose from, I can’t make up my damn mind.

 I figured I’d just go for a classic craftsman design – end of story. Yeah, right.

 Do I want the “authentic Dard Hunter style” in copper, brass, aluminum or black?

The Craftsman Homes Connection

Or would I prefer the hand-hammered copper?

The Craftsman Homes Connection

How about some classic arts and crafts terra cotta tiles?

The House Number Connection

Then again, I love the font on these mission numbers by Rejuvenation.


Or what if I went wild, veered away from the bungalow theme  and opted for art deco instead?

The House Number Connection

Or ornate Mediterranean tiles?

Or the simple but cheery rose design from DuQuella Tile & Clayworks?

DuQuella Tile & Clayworks

Hey, they even have a bungalow style.

DuQuella Tile & Clayworks

If you really want to make your head spin, scroll through the “address plaques” list on, where I found some of these guys. Here’s hoping you’re less indecisive than me.


Filed under bungalow, exteriors, retro

Pacific Northwest Paradise

Damn you, Portland, Oregon. 

 Just when I think I could be content settling down less than 100 miles from where I was born, you stir up my grass-is-greener wanderlust. 

With your street after street of charming bungalows and four-squares, which often seem to house charming families and charming cats. Portland really does feel like the city that wants to be a town – a collection of neighborhoods more than a metropolis. 





And your numerous retro neon signs, vintage clothing stores and yummy food carts. And your many vintage guitars. And coffee shops filled with bike-riding, tattooed hipsters. 


Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

And your city block-sized bookstore that overwhelms and humbles me, while surreptitiously stealing away hours of my day. 

And your many, many breweries (hiccup). 


 And of course, your crazy donuts. Sure, they’re nowhere near the best I’ve tasted – and after being featured on the Food Network and No Reservations, they’re tooth-achingly trendy – but the treats at Voodoo Doughnut are still inventive and fun. 



Besides, this is the closest thing people like me will come to getting into a nightclub. Seriously, look at this line. 


If only I was allowed to pump my own gas in Oregon instead of waiting on a teenage attendant, I think I might stay here for good.


Filed under bungalow, old houses, travel

Open Wide

Whoever built our house must have had a really big refrigerator. How else do you explain putting a 42-inch door in a 900-square-foot home? Between the door and a few windows, there’s almost no wall left in the living room.

Which would’ve been okay, except the original door was old, plain and ugly – and had a big gap at the bottom that sucked in cold air all winter. Not cool. More than painting the drab white walls, more than tearing off our asbestos siding (in a careful, environmentally-friendly way, of course), I dreamed – alright, nagged my boyfriend – about getting a new door. And this month, we finally did! Second greatest Valentine’s Day present ever (our cat is the first).  Check out the blurred action shot of the old door on its way out.

Though 42 inches is actually a standard size, it’s still uncommon. That means a wood door that wide can be quite expensive, especially when you include glass – which we wanted to do in order to let more light into our dinky, formerly dim living area.

But the large craftsman doors at International Door & Latch in Eugene, Ore. were actually quite reasonable. We got the whole shebang – pre-hung door with new handles and locks – for just over $2,000 (okay, maybe it’s not a bargain, but nice doors are pricey! And this was lot less than what we were quoted elsewhere). Mind you, we (my boyfriend) did stain the door ourselves. My uninspired photography does not do it justice, by the way:

Nice old-school wooden doors are few and far between in our neck of the woods, where most houses were (sigh) built after the 60s. But just like when you get a new car and suddenly spot the same model all over the road, I’m now noticing hardwood, paneled, windowed craftsman-style doors on houses everywhere. And though I’m more than pleased with our new door (except for the fact that it suddenly makes the rest of our house seem crappy in comparison – especially the unfinished strip above the new door, which was turned out to be slightly shorter than the old door) I’m also envious of the models I missed in our initial search, like the fir doors from Omega Too, the dutch door from Jeld-Wen or the more elaborate styles at IDL (check out the Gamble House-worthy stained glass). Oh well. One project down, a hundred more to go.

Omega Too

International Door & Latch


Filed under bungalow, exteriors, old houses, restoration

What style is my old house?

field-guide-to-american-houses1So maybe you recognize that Victorians were built during the Victorian era, but you’re still unclear about how to distinguish between Queen Anne and Shingle-style (or Folk Victorian and Italianate, etc). Maybe you’ve determined that you live in a California bungalow, but wonder what differentiates it from a standard Crafstman (well, other than the fact that yours is probably located in California) or a Spanish Revival bungalow. Or maybe you own a newer home and wonder whether it has any style at all.

Fortunately, just as there is a field guide for every kind of North American flora and fauna you can imagine, there is a guide to America’s architecture. Actually, there are several, though A Field Guide to American Houses by Virginia McAlester is arguably the most well-known. Others include The Visual Dictionary of American Architecture, American Houses: A Field Guide to the Architecture of the Home, and, for those of you with one of the aforementioned newer homes, A Field Guide to Contemporary American Architecture.

There are also some excellent online resources, my favorite being the Home Style Guide at Architecture. It includes loads of gorgeous photos along with a wealth of information, not just about home style but also renovation, building plans, history and more.

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Filed under architectural style, bungalow, old houses, Victorian