Bungalow Living | Playing With Space
This is our second home, our first was a 1930s Bath-stoned terraced house in Bath which was really very special. It had been owned by a family for 30 years and the ‘children’ were now selling, you could feel that it was a real home. It required a complete re-wire, re-plumb, new kitchen, bathroom etc but it was a job we relished and enjoyed with the excitement of our first home together. From the back of the house it had a view out across Bath and hot air balloons used to drift over the house from Bristol on sunny weekends – it was a magical place to call home. A new job meant selling it and buying where we are now in glorious Dorset. After hunting high and low we came to terms with a) what we could afford b) what was available; a 1970’s beige and wood-chipped bungalow.
It’s a little hard to glam up a bungalow in words. However, slowly by slowly we’re getting there and they are surprisingly versatile and fun to renovate in a modernist style (no load bearing walls, easy access to everything indoors and out). My friend from New Zealand finds it very odd that they are mocked so heavily in the UK (being the norm for easy relaxed living back home) and we are coming round to her way of thinking!
We first tackled the children’s bedroom, then the hall and now came our first bit of major renovation – ‘turning the bungalow around’. Our expansive dining and sitting room ran the width of the front of the bungalow – lovely and light with a mighty 4 windows but it did have the downside of feeling a little like a fishbowl! We also wanted to create indoor / outdoor access from the living spaces onto our back garden which meant moving the bedrooms to the front of the house and the living to the back. Sitting down and sketching out the plans we quickly realised it was time to dust off the sledge hammer!
Replacing the two larger windows (whilst reducing the larger floor-to-ceiling picture window in order to put up a dividing wall) was a little nerve-wracking but pulling out the huge fireplace was not. It was badly made and took up an enormous proportion of the room for little use; the hearth was not really large enough to make a fire and we were glad to see the ‘original’ gas tap go! Taking it out enabled us to create two generous and hard-working double rooms. The newly constructed room which originally had the fireplace in was to work as a guest room and home study so we concentrated on completing it first…
In the aftermath of the fireplace removal we had jagged stones jutting out the walls and holes in the floor. The next step was making good the hearth by using self-leveling cement screed and plastering the walls, rewiring, fitting a new door, plumbing in a new slim-line radiator and using the hugest tub of white paint we could find! It took 4 coats – it’s often surprising how long it takes to coat raw plaster – but the result is a light-bright white room. Frog tape made sure we didn’t gloop the window frames and lots of decorator cork made the whole scheme work cohesively. We bought inexpensive grey blinds from Ikea and using some offcuts of MDF fixed little screen pelmets to the top half of the windows – it hides the fussiness of the blinds contributing to the white calming scheme. It also makes them look more ‘fitted’ which always looks more expensive!
The next challenge was the oversized expansive window to the front which remained. Whilst it was beautiful to look out to our front garden with the bees on the verbena and cornflowers on nice days it was too sunny to see the computer screen! What we needed was a modern solution which gave us flexibility to control the heat, light and privacy requirements that this multi-functional space required.
We opted for louvred plantation shutters in a medium size so it was in proportion with the bungalows height – add a feeling of security (from the inside) and smartness (to the outside).
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