before and afterDIY

Before & After: A Broken-down Bungalow Gets Beautified

by Maxwell Tielman



Midcentury suburban bungalows don’t tend to get a whole lot of love from the “design” community, their straightforward and simple forms oftentimes written off as prosaic or commonplace. This is a real shame. Given the right treatment and contextualization, every home style—even the “little boxes” that have dotted the American landscape since the 1920s— has the possibility and potential to be spectacular. Just ask Jenika Kurtz Cuadra, the Los Angeles-based interior designer who recently had the opportunity to completely transform one such home. The home was in relatively poor condition when it was purchased, but Jenika wanted to go past a basic spruce-up—she wanted to restore the home to its former 1940s glory, giving this little diamond in the rough the aesthetic treatment and love that it deserved. The end result is a home that is beautiful and modern while still remaining wonderfully true to its roots. Check out all of the photos, plus Jenika’s design notes, after the jump! —Max


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“To finally be a homeowner was a dream come true,” Jenika says, “and to have my dad help us with all of the construction was just unbelievable. He moved into the shack in the back and lived there for the entire length of the project. We all worked ourselves to the bone and enjoyed every minute of it. Friends and family even helped out here and there when they could, our moms would come every weekend. It was a joy to work on this house and the whole thing was such an incredible learning process. I wanted to honor the integrity of the bungalow style so we added architectural elements that may have been there originally back then; the coffered ceiling in the living room, the half-wall-flanked entrance to the dining room, multi-pane windows. My design was inspired by the year the home was built, 1944. I wanted to keep the backgrounds really classic but modernize everything with color and pattern.”


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  • Refrigerator – Kitchenaid
  • Microwave – Kitchenaid
  • Dishwasher – Kenmore
  • Range – Fratelli Onofri
  • Washer and Dryer – LG
  • Kitchen Semi-Flush Mounts – Rejuvenation “Jefferson” in Oil Rubbed Bronze
  • Dining Fixture – Rejuvenation “Fifth Avenue” in Oil Rubbed Bronze
  • Bed 1 Fan- Restoration Hardware “Riverside Hills” in Oil Rubbed Bronze
  • Master Bedroom Chandelier- Vintage, Chris Barrett Design
  • Master Bath Sconces- Restoration Hardware “Chatham” Sconce in Polished Nickel
  • Powder Bath Sconce – Circa Lighting
  • Kitchen Hardware – Restoration Hardware
  • Knobs – Lugarno in Polished Nickel
  • Pulls – Gilmore in Polished Nickel
  • Doorknobs – Emtek
  • Living Room Sofa- Room & Board
  • Living Room Coffee Table- CB2
  • Living Room Table Lamps- Home Goods
  • Living Room Pillows- IKEA, Thailand street market, Target
  • Living Room Chair- World Market
  • Living Room Rug- The Natural Carpet Company
  • Dining Room Set- Craigslist (painted by us)
  • Kitchen Rug- World Market
  • Guest Bedroom Bed- upholstered in textile from Thailand street market
  • Guest Bedroom Nightstands- Thrift shop, painted by us
  • Guest Bedroom Table Lamps and Rug- World Market
  • Master Bedroom Nightstands- Family hand-me-down
  • Master Bedroom Rug- West Elm
  • Master Bedroom Lamps- Anthropologie
  • Master Bath Rug- Anthropologie
  • All curtains- Fabric from IKEA


All interiors: Behr from Home Depot

  • Kitchen – Mountain Haze
  • Dining – Studio Taupe
  • Living – Pensive Sky
  • Guest Bedroom – Antique Earth
  • Master Bedroom – Youthful Coral
  • Master Bath – April Mist
  • All Molding – Polar Bear


  • Main – Bitter Chocolate
  • Doors and Shutters – “Pouring Copper” by Dunn Edwards
  • White Trim – “Polar Bear” by Behr


  • Kitchen – Armstrong Vinyl Tile

Suggested For You


  • Just gorgeous! I love her funky style! What is the name of that plant in the living room? I love it!

  • This is incredible! All the fabrics, colors, just amazing! I love the landscaping you did in the front yard; it makes the house seem so sweetly nestled into its little corner of heaven! I can’t tell if you kept that little plot of rose bushes from the ‘before,’ which were also lovely! Congratulations!

  • Kudos for actually remodeling and living it instead of flipping to raise the prices in LA more!

  • Yes, thank you for using color throughout your house. I’ve been having major white wall fatigue lately…it’s so refreshing to see your personality come through in each room of the house.

  • I’m not sure I can comment on this without launching into a string of enthusiastic, happy profanities. As someone who lived in a 40s bungalow for a long time, that’s AMAZING.

  • I love how you reclaimed those wonderful architectural elements and stayed true to the cottage’s style. Beautiful job!

  • Finally…someone that did a remodel that looks like it belongs in the house. Lovely, lovely job Jenika!

  • my jaw just drops seeing this “before and after.” this is so incredible and inspirational! those far-gone homes just need some lovin’!

  • Wow you could never recognize the house after that! Such a cute little home now. Love the colors and it’s funny cause I have that same picture with the three umbrella people and that gives me some interesting ideas for my own little apartment.

  • Wow, they really like striped curtains. Like, really a lot. They kind of overwhelm the room…strange choice. And what’s with the downer “I will make you hurt” wall hanging? Uh…ok. Beautiful job otherwise, though.

  • I am also a first time home owner, and we bought a very similar little 1940s home. This post gives me so much hope! I have been working out how to make modern upgrades while honoring the beautiful design details of the era, and this post is totally encouraging to me that we can do it! The kitchen and bathroom are especially inspiring. Thank you!

  • Wow! Beautiful! How did you get so much done in five months? We’ve been in ours over five years and haven’t gotten to do so much.

  • I love before and afters in general, but this one totally wowed me! She did such a wonderful job, and I love the stylistic choices. Beautiful!

  • How wonderful your home turned out. Your house looks like the neighborhood I grew up and my parents still live – Culver City. How I love seeing these wonderful old houses get a new life.

  • The outside is amazing, and I like the continuity of the curtains throughout the house. I would have never thought to do that, but I think it works in a small home. That old pink bathtub made me smile, in a wow-that’s-hideous kind of way.

  • Not a Cash quote originally written by Trent Reznor. Thought you may want to fix the sign over the toilet.

  • This home is beautiful inside and outside. This is a added addition to the cute little neighborhood.

  • Love, love, love the outside. Just fabulous. Love many bits and bobs inside too, but agree; U-shaped stripey curtain thing overkill. Ditch a few.

    Nonetheless, well done!

  • I’d love to know where you got your cabinets. I’m in LA as well and am also undoing the sins of previous owners in my 1938 home. The kitchen is the next big project on my list.

  • LOVE the exterior! Great job choosing colors that pop and complimentary landscaping. The new front access is a nice change, too! Great job!

  • I totally love the vivid pop the striped curtains give the home! I especially like how you carried them throughout the spaces for a really fun cohesive feel, love them in the pink room! What a great play of color and pattern. It’s also a fun contrast to the pink and white striped awning. Sweet!

  • It’s great to see your remodel and the beauty you detected in a run-down house! We are in the middle of remodeling a 1955 home and it’s nice to see there is light at the end of the tunnel.

  • I am in awe of this transformation. I love it! And I have to say, I want the wallpaper in your bathroom. It’s perfect! I really like seeing old houses saved and restored to their original time period.

  • Looks fantastic! I’ve seen so many houses on their last leg like this in LA, no one has any leftover money after the insane purchase prices to fix anything up. Hope the neighbors are inspired!

  • The best thing? The smile on the realtors face! Well done, family who works together.

  • Holy.. ** !! I thought my renovation was bad, but wow. This is super impressive! I am just so inspired now to keep going.

  • Love this house. An amazing transformation. Colors are wonderful. question: I’ve never seen curtains like these before. Is it a special type of Roman Blind? If it has a special name, please pass it on as I think it would look great in our kitchen. And I very much like the b&w curtains throughout. I think it gives a continuity to the house as there are so many other colors. This house is absolutely lovely!

  • Nice work! Just a tiny detail which hasn’t much to do with anything really, but I couldn’t help noticing the much familiar piece of lyric in the bathroom above the toilet. Yes, it may have came out of the late and great Johnny Cash’s mouth, but it was written and also performed by (the other man in black) Trent Reznor. Just saying. We don’t want people to be misinformed.

  • How absolutely charming! All that hard work paid off in a big way. A home that makes you smile is the best reward. Enjoy!

  • You are such a lucky woman to have a dad that helped you with this! The results are impressive. I admire your vision; I would have seen this house and immediately said, “No way.”

    I think it would be helpful to know the time frame from when you finished the remodel to when the pictures were taken. The landscaping looks too mature to have just been planted…..was the project a few years ago?

  • I’ve seen this great home before, somewhere. I’m always curious how a first-time home buyer finances this kind of full-home transformation, given that it was completed in just 5 months. Obviously most of the labor was done by the homeowners & family, but did they pay out of pocket for all of the supplies? Or did they get a 203k loan or some other special rehab financing?

  • @Sara “I will let you down/I will make you hurt” are lyrics from the NIN then Johnny Cash song “Hurt.” Not sure why the homeowners chose it, but it’s a beautiful song and one of the last that Johnny Cash recorded before his death.

    As for the house, I’ve seen the interior online before, but never the exterior. I also have a 1940s cottage. I recently painted my house a dark brown with stained wood shutters. When they stain turned out warmer then I had intended, I had to deviate from my originally planned blue door to a hot coral color that worked better with the palette. It’s nice to see someone else use the color scheme, especially so successfully. Beautiful! :)

  • This is so refreshing after seeing so many older houses gutted and given soul-less renovations. Beautiful work.

  • the LIVING ROOM HOUSEPLANT is Ficus lyrata, or Fiddle Leaf fFg. Needs very bright indirect (those sheer curtains are great for this) light. Grows in very humid bright jungle regions, though can grow outside along the south coast of California. Less successful over time as a houseplant (air is too dry). More tolerant of drier indoor locations would be Ficus benjamina. Beautiful re-do. Nothin’ like sweat equity to make you proud.

  • Gorgeous! What is the approximate square footage of your kitchen, and what brand cabinets did you use? Your whole house is inspiring!

  • Mind blowingly good. Congratulations, Jenika! You, your family & friends did such a fantastic job. Love that your dad moved into the shack in the back. That’s dedication (:

    P.S. More posts like this one please, Design Sponge.

  • I loved everything about this reno except one glaring thing….the black and white window treatments throughout. I thought they detracted from every room.

  • Beautiful transformation! Would love the wallpaper source…so pretty :)

  • I see that the outdoor paint color is bitter chocolate, but on my screen it just looks black. I sure hope that it looks more chocolate in person. I have to disagree on some people’s comments on the curtains. I think they work very well in this house, bringing out the homeowner’s sense of style. Obviously they don’t BLEND or MATCH, but they work well. This really is one of the best whole house renovations I’ve seen in a long time. I like their use of color and pattern so much. I too am getting quite tired of the all white makeovers.

  • WOW. I wish I had talented friends and family to help me with my mid century house haha…

  • wow, thanks so much for the kind words everyone! a couple of you had some questions about things so here’s some information for you,
    @megan and @christine- the countertops are absolute black granite, honed.
    @wendy- the bed skirt is custom, made by my best friend’s mom.
    @rebecca and @christy- the cabinets were custom, wanted to be sure everything fit just right.
    @debbie and @emilee- glad you like the curtains! i made them myself without even sewing anything. super easy! just cut the fabric to the size of the window plus 1/2″ longer, staple to a piece of screen molding the same width as the window then tack up with nails. the shape is made by adding a string or ribbon to the center and tying up as high as you like.
    @laura- the work took 5 months to complete but the photos came months later after i had collected the finishing furniture pieces, accessories and artwork.
    @barbara- the pink nighstands are painted in ‘love’s first kiss’ by disney home at home depot.
    @sherry- the powder bath wallpaper is ‘seraphine’ from romo.

  • Amazing! I love the warmth, color palette and interesting surprises. (Your front garden is beautiful too.) I just read this quote this morning and it fits the heart and guts you put into your home.

    “You open a door and find yourself in a staircase. Do you go up or down? I say up. ” — Paul Graham

  • Jenika, amazing transformation! One more request…can you give the model number for your fridge? Thanks!

  • Absolutely beautiful remodel and restoration! It’s SO inspiring to see someone take on a project like this with loving care and respect to the history of the home. Impeccably done! I wish you many years of joy in your home.

  • Amazing transformation of a cute bungalow. So much lighter and brighter on the inside. Wonderful that you had such a great time renovating with your friends and family and love coming home to your new place.

  • Gorgeous!! Such a sweet little home. I LOVE the bathroom wallpaper!(and pretty much everything else)

  • Wow, you are a testament of “anything is possible!” I was brought to tears thinking about the love and hard work it took to make this your dream house. Not only have you transformed this house, but I bet the impact on the neighborhood has been just as amazing. Congratulations!

  • I have never seen blinds like that. I would really like to make some for my kitchen. I know you explained them before but I’m a little slow with instructions. Could you go into a little more detail on how you made them? Is there a seam in the middle where the string goes? You should make a blog post!

  • What a wonderful job you have done! I was wondering about the wallpaper in the bathroom – could you tell me what it is called and where it is from?

  • absolutely gorgeous! we close on our little 1950 bungalow at the end of July and I cant wait. You’ve done such an amazing job bringing this home into the light. Well done!!

  • I too love the window treatments! I know you explained how to make them… I keep re-reading it, wondering what I’m missing… How do you tie them up so nicely? And did you hem the sides? I love to use this idea in my house- it’s just gorgeous! Thanks!

  • SO RAD.

    I have never replied to a blog before now. In fact, I was looking at little Green Notebook and found myself here. While the reno is a marvelous transformation, the REAL reason I am leaving a comment is to compliment your choice of lyrics that you have framed above the commode. I am a big fan and just saw NIN perform at Hollywood Bowl last week.

    I like design…and coincidences : )

  • Wow!!! This transformation is incredible! Thanks for sharing this project, I’m so glad I found your blog :)

  • Wow that is amazing! Just love how you transformed everything, especially the front yard landscaping. What type of plantings did you use? Would appreciate that information.

  • It’s absolutely beautiful. I must say, though, I’m so tired of how people (not just here, but in general) talk about the homes they rehab! “Awful!” “Horrible!” “Disgusting!” One day, we’ll all be old people whose homes are dated, or maybe even in disrepair–I hope the young person who inherit our houses are a little kinder in how they describe them.

    • I completely agree with you. We all need to point out the good bones more and not trash everything.

  • Oh WOW!….. I have had a pic of your bathroom for so long, it’s my favorite bath I have ever seen. Could you please tell about the floral
    wallpaper, where to find it… please please. There exterior is also so lovely , so many people are afraid of the strong contrast but it just makes it wonderful. Congrats on your gorgeous home.

  • This is beyond inspiring, thank you so much for sharing. It is such a joy to see someone respect the integrity and style of an older home instead of gutting it and painting every wall in the house grey. Love your color choices everywhere!

  • Well done. Orange and brown… not my colours sorry hahaha. But the bathroom has definitely given me some inspiration.