Judging from the high percent-age of architects who live in remodeled bungalows, this house type holds enduring appeal for the design-conscious. Although different styles populate different parts of the country — Queen Anne in the Northwest, Spanish colonial in Southern California, and Craftsman nearly everywhere — admirers all over list the same attributes: beautiful detailing, strong curb appeal, and, like the foursquare, rock-solid construction. “They've withstood earthquakes,” says Georgie Kajer, AIA, of Pasadena, Calif. “There's a difference in how they were built and detailed, compared with homes built after World War II.”

For today's daylight-loving public, however, the home's interior is entirely too dark. The front porch and deep roof overhangs present in many bungalows can block light from entering the house. And the kitchen, living room, and dining room tend to feel separated from one another, which only compounds the problem. “Opening up the walls inside helps with the darkness, allowing the rooms to share light,” says Gerry Cowart, AIA, of Savannah, Ga. “You can use cased openings so you're not taking out the entire wall.” Simply widening the openings between rooms appeals to Gary Earl Parsons, AIA, of Berkeley, Calif. “It keeps the basic floor plan intact,” he says.

In contrast to the bungalow's cordial street elevation, it can be surprisingly unfriendly to the backyard, with limited exits and views on that side. “When they were built, the Victorian idea that the rear yard was a service space still held,” Parsons says. “There are usually issues of connection, so we try to make an outdoor room there.” Perforating the rear of the house with windows and doors helps establish a smoother relationship.

Another option for tightening ties to the backyard, a rear addition, also serves as a means to gaining much-craved space. Sometimes, though, the site or budget dictates working within the existing plan. “It's about reallocating space,” Cowart says. He recommends eliminating hallways, giving that square footage over to cramped kitchens and baths. Parsons often tops the house off with a full second story, which he'd rather do than add a half-level. “It allows you to re-envision the whole,” he says. “But you also have to open up the first-floor rooms to each other, so they stay in proportion with the new building.” Adding a second floor also brings with it the danger of overwhelming the original facade. Seattle's Tom Lenchek, AIA, solved this problem in a recent remodel by continuing the existing beveled siding part way up the new portion of the house, cladding the top section with shingles. “It shortened the apparent height of the walls so the addition doesn't look like a full story,” he says.


Montlake bungalow, Seattle


Bosworth Hoedemaker, Seattle

project size before:

1,500 square feet