Lisa Berg’s 1920s Minneapolis bungalow was full of delicious discoveries — like the original beadboard porch ceiling she uncovered while ripping out unsightly acoustic tiles.
“I felt like Nicole Curtis,” said Berg, referring to the star of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict.”
When Berg took down a massive mirror above her fireplace, she discovered two electrical boxes that housed long-gone sconces. “I cruised eBay and found vintage copper sconces for a song,” she said.
Berg and other bungalow owners will open their homes to share ideas and experiences at the Twin Cities Bungalow Club Tour on May 14.
The six residences on the tour are in Minneapolis, St. Paul and St. Louis Park. “Part of the fun of reinvigorating this bungalow was the discovery that the period charm was always there under people’s attempts to make it better for them,” said Berg.
The event will spotlight meticulous restoration, respectful updates and even back-of-the-house additions by homeowners who appreciate these vintage beauties.
Tourgoers also can gather ideas on paint colors and wallpaper and ways to integrate a range of furniture styles to enhance and complement the Craftsman qualities of this early 1900s architectural style.
“We always champion preservation of original elements,” said Tim Counts, club president, who lives in a Minneapolis bungalow. “But we understand that modern living needs more room and functionality. However, he advised doing alterations carefully to respect the original structure, “so it doesn’t rupture the coziness and charm of the bungalow,” he said.
Bungalows, built in the Twin Cities from 1912 to 1930, were the first casual-living American houses, said Counts. “A lot of elements we take for granted in houses today originated with bungalows.”
The recognizable architectural style is appreciated for its handsome dark oak woodwork, space-saving built-ins and cozy fireplaces surrounded by natural brick — all within a compact and manageable floor plan.
“The bungalow breakfast nook as a gathering spot was a precursor to the modern kitchen island or peninsula,” he said.
The Twin Cities Bungalow Club’s 250 members include the next generation of bungalow owners, the millennials, who often are seeking affordability in an urban setting, said Counts. “That age group plays with mixing midcentury modern and contemporary furniture,” he added.
Berg and her husband, David Drown, are on the other spectrum of bungalow owners — downsizing empty nesters.
In 2008, Berg first stepped inside a 1923 Craftsman bungalow for sale in the Fulton neighborhood. Although modest, it boasted a beautiful oak buffet accented with a gently curved peak that echoed the wood archway between the living and dining rooms. “The house said ‘Fix me, live in me, love me,’ ” recalled Berg.
Since then, the couple have remodeled their 1980s “Plywood Minnesota” kitchen, and moved a back hall doorway to gain space for cabinets and a black soapstone counter, which they installed themselves.
“We looked at salvage yards for period cabinets, but nothing was available,” said Berg. “So we bought some at Ikea that fit.” Their biggest splurges were the North Prairie Tileworks backsplash and a 30-inch-wide AGA oven.
They’ve also finished the basement, adding heated floors, a home office, TV room with a wet bar and laundry room.
Berg’s current arm-breaking chore is using a heat gun to strip the white paint from crown molding in the living and dining rooms. “This paint is insidious,” she said. “It takes about an hour to do one foot of molding.” Then she’ll stain it to match the woodwork in the rest of the house.
The bungalow’s main floor is just under 1,000 square feet, inspiring the couple to call it “the condo with a garden.” And during the home tour, Berg is planning to spread the word that bigger isn’t always better.
“It’s a modest bungalow,” she said. “But I’m really impressed by its quiet elegance.”