“Embrace the Darkness” of your Bungalow

From on March 05, 2008 in General Remodel

Bungalow InteriorWhile I had the opportunity to pick Jane Powell’s brain (she’s published 6 books on bungalows), I was careful not to forget the feedback I received from proud bungalow owners. If you recall from our first segment, Homeowner #2 complained, “My bungalow doesn’t have enough storage.” Here, Jane gives some handy advice on storage solutions for bungalow owners with small closets.

Since my last post, I also received the following feedback from homeowners:

Homeowner #3:

“The house was very well made, redwood framing throughout, beautiful red maple flooring with fine inlay, and well insulated, for example. It feels very solid.”

Homeowner #4:

“I like the original hardwood floors, which I think are beautiful, the large amount of light that shines through the windows, and also the flow of the layout of the place.”

Since both these homeowners highlighted the wood features of their bungalows, I thought it would be interesting to ask Jane which materials work best to counteract the woodwork that dominates these interiors. Jane’s response on “embracing the darkness” makes a lot of sense, though it may not be the first solution that comes to mind. Here’s the remaining portion of my interview with Jane:

What are your favorite details of the bungalow interior?

Wow, that’s like asking which is my favorite cat. Well, there’s beautiful clear finished wood – I never get tired of looking at the wood grain. Then there are the fireplaces – clinker brick, brick, stone, tile – I love them all. Art glass is lovely, whether in windows, doors, or light fixtures. And I am an absolute sucker for wildly colored tile bathrooms.

What materials do you find work well to balance or counteract the woodwork of bungalow interiors?Bungalow door handle dark wood

I once wrote a piece called “Embrace the Darkness” – that sums up a lot of what you have to do. Bungalows were meant to be dark – they thought it was cozy, and it is.

Though it is counter-intuitive, painting the walls a saturated color to stand up to the wood will make it seem less dark, because there will be less contrast between the two.

Bungalow designers were always aiming for harmony.

The second thing is scrim – a sheer fabric used for the first layer of window curtains. It filters the incoming light, thus reducing the glare that results from the contrast between the glass in the windows and the dark woodwork.

(Any kind of sheer curtain will work.) Bungalows were also meant to have the interior softened with rugs, pillows, artwork (wide gold frames were popular because they catch the light and also look good against dark woodwork), pottery, and other decorative objects.

What storage solutions would you recommend for bungalow owners with small closets?

It’s a tough one – I’ve had those bungalows, which is why in my current bunga-mansion I took the bedroom that has two closets.

Of course I’ve also taken over the closet in one of the other bedrooms as well, just for costume stuff.

Paring down your wardrobe or storing off-season clothes elsewhere (assuming one has an “elsewhere”) will help. Closet organizers that provide more than one level of hanging space will make the best use of a small closet. An armoire in the bedroom (if one has room for that) is also useful.

Do you have anything else to add?

I have lots of things to add, that’s why I had to write six books!

—We’ve enjoyed hearing from you, Jane. Tomorrow, look out for our last post on bungalows, where we’ll feature some of their different layouts.


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