California Dreaming

Craftsman bungalow in Evergreen.

| October 31, 2001
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This house is much more typical of Southern California than Memphis. The hills above Balboa Park in San Diego are filled with similar bungalows. Influences as diverse as the precise joinery of Japanese domestic architecture and the English Arts and Crafts Movement, which attempted to recreate the handwork of the medieval craft guilds, mark the style.

The period also saw a growing interest by architects in modest housing for the growing middle class. Bungalows (especially in California) were meant to unify interior and exterior spaces for casual living in and out. Here, there is a large front porch with exposed rafter tails and a deep roof overhang to facilitate outdoor living in all seasons.

The roof pitch is also low -- that and its deep overhang emphasize the horizontal and tie the house to the ground. This line is strengthened by the siding, which changes from narrow boards to bands of shingles below the windows, adding a rustic, casual feel. Small multipane windows (which resemble leaded glass) in the upper sash and the dormers add further interest to the exterior.

The front door is heavy planking with small windows at the top. The ornate door knob and plate show Art Nouveau influence, considered a much fancier style but still a delicious touch. You enter the living room which runs to a rear sun room. French doors allow the flexibility of uniting these rooms for larger gatherings. And off the sun room is a new deck, so that front and back porches could be added to the entertainment area with ease.

Built-ins feature prominently here. Bookcases flank the wood-burning fireplace. The back wall of the living room has benches with storage below and stained glass above. The dining room is separated from the living room by low storage cabinets with box columns above.

A tall hutch in the dining room has lights, installed during a recent renovation, in the upper cabinets. These and a new, appropriately Craftsman, center light fixture warm the dining room. A window seat looks out to the front. The nine-foot ceilings in these two rooms are paneled, a simple but elegant detail typical of this house.

The kitchen was completely redone. The original butler's pantry and kitchen spaces were combined to create a large gathering space. New cabinets against two walls and a third ell allow for plenty of workspace, a breakfast bar, and a seating area. Behind the kitchen is the large laundry room with high windows looking out to the fenced backyard with its rear hedge of young crape myrtles.

There are two bedrooms, each of which have surprisingly large closets. The original bath was updated and a nice linen cabinet was relocated there. But the real fun is in the new master bath. The floor is tiled, and a second closet was added. There's a double vanity and a large, glass-enclosed shower. The central spa tub is set under western windows where you can kick back at the end of the day and do your own California dreaming.

305 North Watkins
1,985 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2 baths; $179,500
Realtor: Lovitt Co., 683-2433, Agent: Nan Lee, 458-6819

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