Tiny Space, Huge Project

All the stages of our Craftsman bungalow back porch restoration

Before and After, Exteriors,

bp_beforeafterEnclosed back porch, Before and After

When we purchased our bungalow it was covered in asbestos siding.

bp_01Our enclosed back porch covered in asbestos siding. 2003

The asbestos siding was in such poor condition that we decided to take our chances and remove it.

bp_02What we found underneath was a poorly constructed porch enclosure. 2004

Underneath the asbestos we found a poorly constructed, rotting enclosure. The enclosure was built with scrap wood and odds and ends.

bp_11Siding made from found odds and ends. The window juts out 10″ from the wall.

We were unsure what to do and didn’t want to put a lot of money into this little back porch. I considered covering over the whole mess with siding and dealing with it at a later date. I was lucky enough to receive some sage advice from a more experienced house restorer, “Covering over this would be like trying to fix a skull fracture with a band aid!”

bp_03The only thing left to do was to tear the whole mess down. 


bp_04The back door has been relocated to provide  a better traffic flow. Temporary plywood enclosure. 


bp_05New wood siding is a treated with an insecticide to prevent termites. Stained glass windows from a 1915 house found on eBay.


bp_06Primed and ready for paint.


bp_07Testing the final 2 paint color combinations. 


bp_08The house gets painted. 


bp_09The new back porch. 2004

Comments { 10 } December 18, 2008

Bungalow Roof

Historically accurate roofing materials

Exteriors, ,

We recently received this question:

I just purchased a bungalow and need to replace the roof. Do you have any suggestions on what would be historically accurate? Thanks!

First, congratulations you on your new home! Next, I want to refer you to Robert Schweitzer’s book, Bungalow Colors: Exteriors. This book was immensely helpful during our exterior restoration.

Schweitzer recommends taking the color of the roof into consideration as part of the home’s overall color scheme. He makes a very good point that the roof is a prominent feature on many bungalows and should compliment the overall color scheme of the house.

Now to answer your question, we found remnants of our home’s original roofing material in the attic. Our bungalow had a wood shingle roof that had been stained a dark red color. Although, many would find a wood roof impractical today.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt is another historically accurate choice. Many of the bungalows in our area with very old asphalt roofs still intact have either red or green shingles.

Comments { 1 } October 1, 2007

Security Door Inspiration

Seeking security solutions that are beautiful

Inspiration, ,

We are lucky enough to live in a neighborhood with many beautiful older homes. I often drive by the Perrine House which has been declared a Historical-Cultural Monument by the city of Los Angeles. I have always been struck by how nice their front door looks.

The screen door has been modified by adding a metal grill. While this has the benefit of providing security, an issue in our neighborhood, it looks much more attractive than the metal beast of a security door gracing the front of our house.

If you look closely, you’ll see that the decorative flourishes of the metal grill work mimick the pattern found in the stained glass windows in the door and side lights.

The door has a beautiful entry set and matching lock.

This security door is our inspiration but we would like to do something a little more humble for our bungalow. We would also want to insert a screen behind the grill so that we could keep the door open.

Well, we’ve found our next project!

Comments { 3 } January 26, 2005

Exterior Paint Job Almost Done

Our bungalow gets painted

Exteriors, Paint, Restoration Diary


The body of the house is completely painted. The painters have started
on the trim and the red accent color on the windows.


The front of our house looks so different. It is amazing how paint can
transform a house.


We added lattice over the top of the open beams on the front porch.
I am going to grow vines over the top.


Side of the house.


Back. We still have a pile of trash that needs to be removed. We are
waiting to finish up the painting before putting in a lawn or landscaping.

Body color: Amazon NA60 (Ralph Lauren Naturals palette)
Trim color: Hampton Court NA54 (Ralph Lauren Naturals palette)
Accent color on windows: La Mesa Red (Benjamin Moore)

Comments { 24 } November 12, 2004

Back Porch Rebuild 9.09.04

Work on our bungalow restoration

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

Progress! Today the carpenter put in two of the old windows that I purchased off of eBay earlier in the summer. They were originally double hung but the carpenter converted them into casement windows.

The windows and door let in a lot of light.

Detail of the windows. They were salvaged from a home built in 1916. The green splotch in the right window is actually a paint color we are trying and not part of the window.

I ran out of room on the front of the house so we are now trying out paint colors on the garage. I know, it is a problem. Does anyone know of a 12 Step program for paint color obsession? I am really down to the wire and going to have to make the final, forever decision, or at least the next 5 – 10 years decision, on the paint color next week. Can I get an Amen?

David won’t even discuss paint color any more so the final, forever decision is up to me. I’m trying to decide between an olive body with brown trim or a muted deep green color with cream trim similiar to the colors our house was painted in 1912.

Our neighbor down the street from us painted her house a dark green color with gold trim. The green was close to a color I was considering at the time. I asked her how she decided on her house’s color scheme and she confessed that she loved her car so much that she painted her house to match it. Sure enough, I saw her driving a dark green mustang convertible with a tan top and gold rims a few days later. She suggested we paint our house to match our car. Hhhhmmmmm, our car is an 11 year old white Ford Taurus. It gets us from point A to point B but it’s nothing to paint our house about…

They also started to put up siding today. Of course, Lulu wanted to be in the picture!

Simon looking very brown and a lot like Lulu, but not about to be left out. “What about me? I’m cute. Take my picture. Take my picture.”

Comments { 9 } September 9, 2004

Back Porch Rebuild 9.02.04

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

The plywood floor has been put in. We took out the original flooring because the floor was up to 5″ off level in places and the supports under the floor were rotten in areas and needed to be replaced.

Our new back door has been put in.

The piece of plywood propped up against the wall is serving as a temporary bathroom door.

The best thing about the new door is that it has been moved to line up with the kitchen door.

Comments { 7 } September 2, 2004

Exterior (Months Later) Only Week 2

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

After much delay, work on the exterior is moving forward. Finally. Huge sigh of relief. The contractor and his team started last week.

We have determined that this part of the back porch (see picture below) was added on.


It must have had a flat roof when it was built because we found asbestos shingles covering the back wall. The roof was extended over the the addition sometime in the not too distant past . If we didn’t need the space for our washer and dryer I’d be tempted to tear down the addition.


The team made a lot of progress with sanding and patching the wood siding. There is still alot more to do though…


The points on the rafter tails have been added back. They were sawed off sometime after we placed an offer on the house and before we closed escrow. A home improvement project gone bad – we aren’t sure why…


We were feeling rather brave so we took the bars off the large window on the porch. Although, I have to admit that I have gotten used to the bars in a way and they gave me a sense of securiy. It is hard not to feel a little vulnerable with them gone. On the other hand, it is so nice to look out the window and not feel like I am a prisoner in my own home.


Comments { 5 } August 16, 2004

When No News is Bad News

Problems halt our restoration

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

bp_02Our back porch is really such a mess!

The old adage “No news is good news” doesn’t always ring true. I haven’t written in a while because we ran into some problems with our back porch that required us to rethink our exterior restoration. We halted work completely for the past month so that we could figure out what we are going to do about our back porch and how much we can afford to do.

bp_001Back porch appears to have been enclosed with wood scraps and odds-and-ends, but no real framing.

The back porch used to be open. It was enclosed sometime prior to the house being shingled with asbestos tiles in the late 1940′s – early 1950′s. We discovered that the enclosed wall and windows have NO framing! The walls, windows and door are all different depths from the house. The back porch is a hobbled together mess inside and out.

bp_11Detail of the “construction”

One of our dining room windows looks out onto the ugly back porch. When the view was open to the outside I am sure a lot of light streamed in but now the dining room tends to be dark and the view leaves much to be desired.

bp_004View from dining room window

Our goals are to let in more light and to relocated the washer and dryer to one end of the porch and enclose them in a cabinet. We want to put in new windows and relocate the back door to the middle of the porch.

bp_006Window juts out 10 inches from the wall.

Another concern is an upstairs sleeping porch that was added to the house around 1918. The porch is built to the end of the roof rafters right on top of the old cedar shake roof. We are concerned that the porch isn’t adequately supported. Prior to buying the house we had a structural engineer look into this and some other problems with the house. The structural engineer felt that the support for the room was adequate.

Several other people, who are knowledgeable about old houses, have told us that the room is sloping downward and we are at risk of having it fall off the back of our house during an earthquake!

bp_0003Sleeping porch built to the edge of the roof rafters

We also found evidence of termite damage along our new foundation. All this had me sticking my head in the proverbial sand because, in truth, I just “didn’t want to deal with it.”

bp_007Wires hanging off the back of our house. How ghetto is that?

It is hard to get excited about spending money on the back porch, a room that we use for washing our laundry, housing the litter box and our Sparkletts water dispenser, especially when our kitchen has holes in the ceiling and plaster falling of the walls and we are still brushing our teeth in the bathtub.

I had decided to reside the back porch and to revisit it in 5 years when the rest of the house was completed. Unfortunately, that won’t really work since the walls aren’t framed. Our neighbor, an old house buff, assured me that residing the porch would be like trying to “fix a skull fracture with a band aide” and that our back porch is a complete mess that should be gutted and rebuilt right away.

bp_005Exposed plumbing pipes.

So here we sit, we two, trying to decide just what we want to do with that back porch anyway?

All advice and opinions, especially regarding the sleeping porch support, are welcome and greatly appreciated!

Comments { 9 } June 30, 2004

Outside, Just the Beginning…

The exterior of our bungalow is in sorry shape

Exteriors, Restoration Diary

We are now in full swing on the exterior restoration. The outside is being sanded and patched. Rotten and damaged wood is being replaced. We have hired craftsmen to help us because this job is HUGE.

Are you wondering, “How bad could it be?” Take a look at these pictures to see what we are up against. Outside, Day1

Comments { 1 } May 25, 2004

Vote on House Color

Help us decide what color to paint our bungalow

Exteriors, Paint, Restoration Diary


The house color debate continues…
Hopefully, whatever color combination we choose will look a little better than in my renderings but this should give you some idea of what we are considering.

Which color do you prefer? Vote by clicking on the text below: Sorry, voting has ended.

(vote only once)

Image 1: 365 votes  

Image 2: 195 votes  

We have a winner! It seems that green is the overwhelming color preference. Maybe, just maybe, we will go with the green color after all? Now, if only I can convince David…

Thanks to everyone who voted!

Comments { 3 } March 9, 2004