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Kitchen Chronicles: Bungalow layout inspiration

July 16, 2010

One of the fun things about living in a 1915 bungalow is finding other similar homes and looking at what others have done with the layout over the years—and boy, are there a lot of them! As we started thinking about the kitchen two years ago, one of the most interesting things I did was to start browsing the MLS listings to take a look at other bungalow kitchens. In Oakland, it’s surprisingly easy to find them, too. While our house isn’t a kit house (that we know of) and we have yet to find a twin other than its actual next-door twin, there are still a lot of strikingly similar variations on the layout. If I set search parameters to include houses between 1000 and 1500 square feet that were built between 1900 and 1930, it’s a pretty good bet that I’ll turn up at least one or two similar kitchens on any given day. And if I only look at the two-bedroom houses built between 1914 and 1925, my odds quadruple.

The telltale signs of a similar layout are the door placement (right up against the wall on one side, sometimes still a swinging door) and the double windows over the sink. For most houses of our variety, the dining room is just outside the kitchen on one side, and the backyard or a porch on the other. Occasionally, I’ll see a house that still has a separate breakfast room and back porch, often converted into laundry rooms or half baths. (Our house had these rooms until a 1939 remodel modified the wall.)

Here are a few kitchens I’ve found over the years and saved for layout notes. (A few disclaimers: these photos are all from EBRDI and copyrighted accordingly. Also, these are all from the ‘hood, so it’s entirely possible that the people who now live in these houses might stumble on this blog; if one of them is your kitchen and you want the photo removed, just let me know and I’ll gladly take it off. Alternatively, if one of these is your kitchen or very similar to yours and you want to share anything about the layout, please do! Finally, many of these listings were originally accompanied by websites with floor plans, so in some cases I know the layout is similar not from the photo, but from looking at a floor plan or even dropping by the open houses.)

First, here’s our kitchen’s MLS photo, for context:

Look how clean it is!

Our kitchen, prettied up and staged for sale. Look how clean it is!

Here’s what our blueprint originally looked like:

1915 blueprints of our kitchen (flipped from our neighbor's copy)

1915 blueprints of our kitchen (flipped from our neighbor's copy)

And here’s what some other folks have done with roughly our layout. Interestingly, almost all of these kitchens also break the work triangle, with the exception of a few that either never had or have removed their coolers and have the refrigerator located there.

This kitchen sacrifices corner counter for a longer run to the right of the stove.

This kitchen sacrifices corner counter for a longer run to the right of the stove.

This was helpful to get a sense of what counters on the right side might look like. It also convinced me that we don't want our refrigerator where this one is, since it creates too much of a wall as you come into the kitchen.

This was helpful to get a sense of what counters on the right side might look like. It also convinced me that we don't want our refrigerator where this one is, since it creates too much of a wall as you come into the kitchen.

This is roughly what our corner will look like, except we may have shelves instead of an upper there, and our drawer banks will be a bit bigger.

This is roughly what our corner will look like, except we may have shelves instead of an upper there, and our drawer banks will be a bit bigger.

This is the same kitchen, but gives a glimpse of the breakfast nook. This is my model for ours.

This is the same kitchen, but gives a glimpse of the breakfast nook. This is one model I like for ours, though our kitchen is a bit longer than theirs, so it would be a roomier layout.

Another approach to the fridge dilemma. We could do this, but I don't like the resulting counter space configuration much.

Another approach to the fridge dilemma. We could do this, but I don't like the resulting counter space configuration much. They also seem to have a peninsula to make a "U" shape, something a couple of the designers we talked with suggested for our space.

This is one of my favorite kitchens. You can't tell in this photo, but the door is just to your right, and there's actually a cut-through to the dining room over the counter on the right. We would need to sacrifice the cooler to get a U like this, though.

This is one of my favorite kitchens, though it's not quite the same as ours (but quite similar if you look at the full layout). You can't tell in this photo, but the door is just to your right, and there's actually a cut-through to the dining room over the counter on the right. We would need to sacrifice the cooler to get a U like this, though.

Yet another approach to the corner. Not sure where the fridge is in this kitchen, as the photos don't include it.

Yet another approach to the corner. Not sure where the fridge is in this kitchen, as the photos don't include it.

This kitchen pushes the chimney into the corner, which is pretty common. They also wrapped around a peninsula, and seem to still have their cooler, too.

This kitchen pushes the chimney into the corner, which is pretty common (and much smarter than ours, where it's dropped into the center of the room!) They also wrapped around a peninsula, and seem to still have their cooler, too. This kitchen is either a wee bit wider than ours or laid out differently as far as the doors go, since we can't quite get a peninsula in while keeping a 42" aisle against the wall. Ah, well.

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8 comments

  1. Whoa, I wish I had the original blueprint for my 1919 bungalow. Any idea where I could find that?


  2. @Dan, in theory the city might have it (looks like you’re in Oaktown?)—you can look up the records for your address—but they didn’t have ours, sadly. We only have this one because our neighbor bought his house from the children of the original owners, whose family had built both his house and ours. They’d hung onto them all those years. (So, pretty much dumb luck, since our house has had nine owners over the years and I’m sure the blueprints are long gone!)


  3. If at all possible, my only suggestion is to build the fridge in – we did it in ours and it’s unbelievable how the fridge immediately looked about a third the size it actually is. We built out part of a wall (there was already a chimney bump-out, so we added to it), and subtracting that space from the room was so, so worth it to hide the hulking fridge. Is there room to the left of your arch in the picture above?


  4. Yes, I’m actually looking at doing this, although probably with panels rather than with the wall. (Unfortunately if we use the wall as one side of the built-in space, we end up losing about a foot of counter space, which is frustrating…but I’ll keep playing with it and see!) Thanks!


  5. Just stumbled across your site and can’t believe I haven’t found it sooner. This is great! I also have an Oakland based old house blog Tar Paper Crane, and another that is just Oakland photography called Only in Oakland. I love the kitchen comparisons post. Keep up the good work! I’ll definitely be back!


  6. I’ve been enjoying your blog.
    check out what we’re doing with our bungalow kitchen at adventuresinremodeling.wordpress.com
    we’re about 95% done with pretty much a gut rehab of the kitchen


  7. July? Seriously? Aretemis? Where have you been? Married != Mute.

    I miss you. What’s your take on the Mayoral Election?

    😉


  8. 🙂 Aww, thanks Yolanda! I am trying (though not terribly successfully) to get back in the swing of writing, but between some staff shuffling at work and our kitchen remodel, I’ve been completely underwater. Fingers crossed for next month! (At a minimum I’ll try to post some updates on our house projects, which we’ve been moving forward with—just haven’t had time to write anything up!)

    As for the mayoral election…well, honestly I haven’t written anything on that because I’m pretty underwhelmed by it. I’m not excited about any of the candidates, sadly. Nobody seems to have the perfect match of skill sets, experience, relationships, and integrity. For whatever it’s worth, my votes are going to Tuman, Kaplan, and Quan–but not in that order, and I don’t feel strongly enough about any of them to “endorse” them over the others. I’m not convinced that anyone running will be an especially good mayor, in spite of the respect I have for some of the candidates in other arenas. I think Perata, in spite of having experience and skill sets going for him, falls short on integrity, which bothers me given the recent corruption scandals that have plagued City Hall. Ah, well. I’m hoping that I’ll be pleasantly surprised by whichever candidate wins…we’ll see!



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