There are more than 80,000 bungalows around Chicago and you can find them in nearly every neighborhood. They have a low-pitched roof, a large bay window, and a side set entrance (learn more about them in our architecture guide).
The housing stock is beloved—with many homeowners recognizing the quality, they opt to restore and rehabilitate. Every year the Chicago Bungalow Association doles out awards to the best projects that preserve the style, and in 2019 it had a record-setting 86 nominations.
The finalists for the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Bungalow Awards included small bathroom renovations, wildly landscaped gardens, and careful art glass window improvements. One winner was nominated unknowingly—for his green upgrade to solar power energy—and undoubtedly grateful for that surprise which won him a $1,000 prize. Another finalist inherited his bungalow from his grandmother, a testament to the housing type’s legacy, and worked on rehabbing flooring damaged by termites.
Below we’ve selected three of our favorite winners, but you’ll be able to see all the projects through the Chicago Bungalow Association.
A retro kitchen in Portage Park
When Alex Dunham and Jennifer Bakija moved into Beatrice the Bungalow, the kitchen hadn’t been updated since the 80s. As a former contractor and now furniture maker, Dunham was able to do most of the renovation work. Down came the flower wallpaper and dated appliances. What resulted was a new kitchen with stylish appliances—like the 50s-inspired Big Chill refrigerator.
A 1920s bathroom in Norwood Park
The bathroom in Joshua Cruz and Kelly Gates’ bungalow had beautiful original tiles that were too damaged to restore. After looking into 1920’s interiors, the couple decided to install hunter green wainscoting to match the original flooring tiles that were still intact. The pedestal sink, toilet, tub, radiator, and window were all restored, too. And finally, the shined up fixtures and gold outlet covers are the perfect finishing touches.
A wild backyard in Beverly
Tommie Harris is known for keeping his front yard presentable. When his neighbor installed a long white fence along the side of his property that gave him a new challenge. He missed the green backdrop, so Harris and his family began planting perennials and flowers all around the perimeter. Some of the plants grew eight feet tall—he thanks collected rainwater and a secret fertilizer recipe for that.