Best Of Breed 

Circa-1910 bungalow in Higbee Heights.

The bungalow became popular in America roughly 100 years ago when we started borrowing styles willy-nilly and grafting them onto whatever floor plan we were building. Bungalows and four-squares were built all over North, South, and Midtown Memphis and dressed up to look Queen Anne, Colonial, Mission, or Craftsman. Americans like to act purebred, but look at our culinary heritage or our houses and you'll clearly discern the melting pot.

Check out the influence here. The bungalow was essentially a medieval English floor plan reduced in size because all the serfs wanted their own chateau-ettes. The Brothers Greene in California popularized bungalows in Pasadena around 1900. They used multiple windows for good ventilation and rustic, exterior finishes like stone and wood shingles to promote a less formal, easy-living theme. The style caught on and moved east from there.

This house, typical of the breed, has an informally placed, off-center entry. The large glass door with sidelights and transom is a Colonial Revival detail. Narrow wood siding covers the ground floor, and patterned cedar shakes fill the front gable. All this, amazingly, works together.

Inside follows suit, even with a recent overhaul. The ground floor has original heart-pine floors and high ceilings. Lots of recessed lights have been added. The kitchen has been opened up and features a new layout with a large island. Lots of windows open up this room to a private rear yard and two-level deck.

There's a bedroom down (or a perfect home office, guest room). The public bath is made sumptuous by a slate floor, a footed soaking tub, and a large shower. A new fireplace opens into both the dining room and the den. Pretty cozy.

Upstairs is bigger than you'd think. Amazingly, there are three bedrooms, two baths, and a playroom -- and the rooms aren't small. The master suite is across the back. One side is the bedroom, the other a bath right out of a new development in Collierville. There's a double vanity, a large jet tub, and another separate shower. Connected to this bath is the dressing room.

The public bath upstairs, like down, has a slate floor and bead-board wainscoting painted glossy white. Conveniently, there are two pedestal sinks and a connecting laundry room. Toward the front on both sides are bedrooms, each with a walk-in closet. All of the bedrooms and the hall have oak floors, rather posh for the second floor of a bungalow. Only the front playroom, overlooking the recently landscaped front yard, has been carpeted, and what better material for the rugrats anyway?

If you're hunting for a recent Midtown renovation that's got all the bells and whistles, this may be it. Although the front may look like a well-maintained old biddy, the insides have had a face-lift that makes this sweetheart into quite the thoroughly modern Millie.

2090 Cowden Ave.
3,100 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 baths; $325,000
Realtor: Crye-Leike, 276-8800, Agent: Les Frazier, 272-9090


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