Monday, August 14, 2017

Bungalow Dreaming

Lots of you know that I spend a considerable amount of time in Florida these days. I've got wonderful friends and clients there, and the weather in the winter is much more desirable than Buffalo, that's for sure! A few days ago, my friends sent me a link to a listing for a bungalow in the trendy Murray Hill section of Jacksonville. Murray Hill is sort of the up and coming area right now, adjacent to the tony Avondale area.

I took one look at the porch swing and immediately started to picture myself here. All weekend I dreamed about paint colors and furniture placement, the way I'd style the porch and things I'd do to the yard ... needless to say, I spent my weekend day dreaming and didn't get a thing done at the apartment.

Wanna see how I'd turn this place into my special little Southern retreat? Come along!

I actually don't mind the color of the house, but the landscaping could use some work, as could that front door. (You'll see more inside.) But I'm in love with that porch. When I was a kid, I grew up in a house pretty similar to this one actually, and I remember living on that porch every summer. I see ferns here, and a large garden area to the left with river birch trees (maybe 3) all grouped together with some good ole Florida ivy neatly manicured round the base.

This house is BEGGING for a reclaimed brick sidewalk and driveway, don't you think? I can see that here, too! Windows are old, and original. I find that charming. I think a new glass 9 or 12-light french door with a good old heavy wooden screen door on the front would say "Welcome Home".

Look at those floors! Soaring ceilings here, not uncommon in old Florida bungalows. Because heat rises, these super tall ceilings help keep the living temperature more comfortable. I'd paint the walls here white, including the fireplace brick. The interior firebox I'd paint black, and since I can't imagine ever having a fire in the space, a fern would likely live there. Kind of like in the Southern Living Idea House room that Mark did.

The current sconces on either side of the fireplace would have to change, as would those curtains. I'd install some crown molding and lift the curtain rod to just below the new molding. A bamboo roman shade would help to hide all the wall space between the top of the window and the base of the molding, and curtains from floor to ceiling will make those windows look HUGE!

The house has central air-conditioning, but I know that a ceiling fan in Florida is a wonderful thing. Not this one though, and not for this room. I'd go with a chandelier in here, maybe something a little modern, maybe something a little French? Or a lantern! Can't go wrong with a lantern!

Perfect! A seagrass rug would cover most of the floors. Art would lean against the fireplace. A lush green fern in the fireplace with a glass fireplace screen keeping it safe from the pups.

Again, a better front door would do wonders for this room, don't you think? I see this room as a formal entry and dining space, since there is no foyer. I also don't think that the flow of the room makes sense for a living room, so having it feel more like a salon/library/dining room grand foyer would be my way of working out an odd flow. No television here, this room is for sitting with a glass of wine, or a vodka soda (with lime) and talking about the neighbors, and impromptu dinner parties.

It's also simple enough to change around room arrangements in a bungalow if you get the dimensions right on everything. Round tables are fantastic, and depending on what this room has for width in real life, I might go that route. I also could definitely see a beautiful old chunky leg rectangular dining table or barley twist table in here with long ottomans underneath. Kinda like this: 

The whole thing would be loaded down with interior design books most of the time, much like Mark D. Sikes' dining room: 

And the benches would tuck in nicely and allow for even flow around the room. It'd be a great place to set up buffet service for dinner and drinks on the front porch, and it really fits the way I live and entertain. I love gracious entry ways, and while this home doesn't have one - the space could be used as such, and I think that's part of the fun, don't you? 

Through the living room is also a doorway into one of the 3 bedrooms, which I would likely use as a small television room. Again, making this room as entry way even more beautiful and useful. We will take a look at that in a sec! Again ... crown molding here, curtains and bamboo roman shades. A dining table filled with books and beautiful potted ivy or ferns, and a couple of candlesticks. Boom! Gorgeous! Chairs for the head of the table could sit pretty under the windows on either side of the fireplace.

It appears that this space is what the previous owners used as a family room. It's smack dab in the middle of the front living room (now dining room in my head) and the kitchen. Now, I know what you're thinking - "Artie, you'll have to carry food so far into the dining room if you put the dining room in the front." True, but really, what's another 15 feet?

This room gets great light, doesn't it? I can see carrying the seagrass rugs through here, and doing my large Chinese wedding cabinet between those two windows. Perhaps a television could be stored in there, maybe it just offers a convenient place for additional storage of things I don't need (God knows, we need all that we can get!)

I could definitely see my current furniture in this room, minus the large leather wingback chair I have in my living room.

The doorway into the kitchen definitely needs a door. So I'd take care of that right away. Paint for this room too, again, white and crown molding. Windows treated the same as the living room.

I'm seeing my current art collection on the walls in both of these rooms, with wall sconces with shades lining the wall behind the sofa, very much like this room by Jeffrey Bilhuber:

Moving right along, I hope you all are having as much fun with this as I am. I seriously could do this all day. Wait, I have!

Check out that darling little breakfast nook! Truth be told, this is where I would eat 95% of the time. Which makes a dining room really obsolete, meaning the foyer/library/impromptu dining room would work just perfectly for me.

Here, I'd switch out the fixture, probably for something more like this:

And then use a round table and four chairs there. Some sort of patterned fabric would make great roman shades for this space, introducing a little color.

Now the kitchen ... it's actually not BAD! I mean, it needs some beautifying, but it doesn't need a total gut job. Not yet, anyway.

Would this not look beautiful with a brick floor? Roll with me folks. Check this out:

GORGEOUS! This kitchen is actually wonderful inspiration for the a mini-facelift of the current kitchen. Paint those cabinets, better appliances and upgraded counters, and voila. Even the flooring wouldn't be all that awful to replace. Pull up the current tile, and install the brick veneer. Might be worth the trouble.

Now the bedrooms! Pulling this together from the photos was rather interesting and fun. Remember that room that's off of the living room that I said would make a great television room?

You can see it through the door way here. It's somewhat of a jack and jill situation with a shared closet. See that rod? Easily removable, making that tv room adjacent to what would be a guest room, shown above.

But let's look a little more at the front room, first. There are no photos of that room on line. I'm not sure if the realtor forgot to photograph it, or if it just wasn't ready to be photographed. But we will assume the best, and say it was forgotten. I figure it probably looks a lot like this:

Because this room shares a doorway closet with the bedroom in the center of the house, my guess is that there are no other doors or closets on the far wall of the room. I'd build a custom daybed along that wall to act as a guest bed for guests, but it would be dressed and treated as a sofa on most days. A television on a telescoping arm would sit flush against the entry wall to the left of the door when not being used, and could articulate out into the room if needed. Two small chairs would sit apart from an ottoman for additional seating and comfort. (BTW: this is a hint and a half for what's going on in my current apartment!!!!)

These two photos show the room just off of the television room/guest room with a door into a hallway. I'm not sure how the hallway fits into the overall plan, but, it's there, and there are two bedroom doors and a door to the bathroom leading off of it. This room, I would definitely treat as a wonderful guest room. Perhaps with a canopy bed (the ceilings can certainly accommodate it) and a small dresser between the windows.

This may all appear to be a little tight, but I'm not exactly sure of room measurements and none of this is to scale. It's just for illustration purposes. Getting your mind going if you will. Alright, so what's left? The master bedroom, right! YES!

Why would I choose this as a master? Good question! It's the closest room to the back yard, so there could be easy expansion!

See that window to the left. That's the window you see above. There'd be some moving of things involved, but it's certainly not impossible. I'd probably take out the closet that's built in, and opt for a stand alone armoire instead. Just as much storage, and prettier. Oh! Guess what peeps? I figured out that the hallway door is actually in what would be the formal living room. NEW LAYOUT!

Oh little bungalow ... if only.


  1. seriously, the cutest post!!! ever! lol at the kitchen tho. those are some big dreams, but hey - you could do it. i'm goingn to find a house in houston for you!


  3. That Florida cottage is adorable. I can just visualize your decorating ideas for it. There's always Powerball Artie.

    Joni's suggestions in Houston are so pretty and reasonable. Especially when you consider just how expensive real estate is in New England.

  4. The back of the house and yard would be fun too!

  5. Am loving this vision ... but surely you would miss the snow and the frigid temps ... ☺. -Brenda-

  6. How fun to see your visions. How fun would it be to do... Enjoyed this post. :)

  7. Artie, where is the bathroom? Did I miss it?

  8. Love this post and learning how your mind wanders. I wish I could look at my own home and see inspiration the way you do. I could actually see in my mind everything you described. Your designs are wonderful and I definitely enjoy your thought process.

  9. Selfish here- would love to see you take the plunge so I could enjoy all the posts as you perk this place up to standards. But seriously, you would love this project!

  10. This place is adorable and I love your vision. My next home needs to be that size!!

  11. MOVE!!!! I will come help you pack:) xxo

  12. Wow, what a vision you have! Wish it could come to fruition. Love that dining room inspiration!!

  13. I really like you post,Thanks for your sharing.