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Renovation Solutions: Stay true to your Craftsman bungalow

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The Craftsman bungalow is found in older Salt Lake neighborhoods. It has a dominating roof and is low to the ground.

The Craftsman bungalow is found in older Salt Lake neighborhoods. It has a dominating roof and is low to the ground.

Renovation Design Group

This week we continue our discussion on home styles and their remodeling challenges and solutions with the Craftsman bungalow.

A Craftsman bungalow is a common home style and easy to spot in the older neighborhoods and the Avenues of Salt Lake City. You'll recognize these homes by their dominating roofs and single-story appearance. If there is a second story, it is subtly tucked into the roofline.

The Craftsman bungalow is securely anchored to the ground with stone or brick bases/wainscots. They were designed with lots of windows for light and ventilation and wide roof overhangs to control glare. You can't miss the pronounced front porch, often with tapered wood columns resting on sturdy masonry bases. You'll also sometimes see exposed roof rafters and open eaves.

Common exterior materials include brick, stone, shingles and stucco.

Inside the Craftsman bungalow you'll find a family-oriented living space with a craftsman's attention. You will often find crown moldings, high baseboards, paneled wainscoting and wood floors, as well as a tiled hearth with a brick fireplace, built-in bookshelves and beamed ceilings.

Interior rooms are arranged to encourage family togetherness, with public spaces open to each other, reminiscent of today's popular greatroom style. Craftsman bungalows may also include intimate built-in seating areas known as inglenooks.

The Craftsman challenge: True Craftsman bungalows were well-designed and well-built, and therefore tend to have faithful owners who love their beautiful, functional homes. That means they do not change hands often, so they may need updating when a new owner moves in.

If you are lucky enough to have a bungalow or are looking at purchasing one, plan your renovations carefully so you maintain its innate interior functionality and preserve its exterior sense of being centered, solid and enduring.

We recently had the opportunity to work on a classic Craftsman bungalow in the Avenues. The project centered on the rear of the home, so we were not dealing with the front façade at all. However, these Craftsman homeowners were determined to be true to their home’s innate style, so no concessions were made during the design phase.

The addition was a faithful reproduction of the size and shape of an earlier back porch that had come to the end of its days. However, with the addition of fully insulated walls and thermal-paned windows, the comfort level of the area was vastly improved. The new windows mimicked the style of the original glazing. The new stable cement-fiber board trim will minimize future maintenance without compromising the look of the home. The owners opted to go to the added expense and work of matching the existing home’s cedar shingles as the siding used on the addition.

On the interior, the Craftsman theme was reinforced in the choice of finish materials. The new linoleum flooring looks authentic but brings the advantages of exciting colors and low maintenance offered by a company that is creating an old material made new again. The trim (baseboards and casing around the doors and windows) was selected to match the trim found on the rest of the main level. The owners could have used less-expensive flooring and trim; however, these details are critical in maintaining the original style of the home.

Lighting is always critical to good design, and a bungalow is no exception to this rule. In fact, because this type of home often has interesting nooks and crannies, it lends itself very well to adding some drama with a good lighting plan. Directional recessed lighting can highlight beautiful built-in cabinetry or special paneling and woodwork. On the exterior, lighting can highlight exceptional materials such as original stone wainscots or beadboard soffits, which contribute to the charm and character of the bungalow type.

Transforming another style of home into a true bungalow is difficult because of the roof profile. Just as a Tudor needs a steeply pitched roof, a bungalow needs large overhangs which cannot just be "tacked on" to an existing roof. However, there are elements of the bungalow style that can be judiciously added to a home to borrow some of that Craftsman charm. The flip side of that is the danger of sticking — say — a tapered Craftsman column on just any house, resulting in a façade that looks strange instead of charming. Here is where an architect can come in handy.

There is a lot written about Craftsman homes, as there is quite a following of devoted bungalow owners. Some exploration in the library or on the Internet will yield a great deal of information regarding this style. Recognizing the hallmarks of a Craftsman bungalow will allow you to stay true to the original style which, in turn, will give your home the look and feel you are seeking.

Over the next two weeks we will discuss the characteristics of Cape Cods and California ranches, two other common and beautiful house styles found throughout the Salt Lake Valley.

Ann Robinson and Annie V. Schwemmer are the principal architects and co-founders of a residential architectural firm focused on life-changing remodeling designs at RenovationDesignGroup.com. Send comments or questions to ask@RenovationDesignGroup.com