Julia & Zeus's California Bungalow with an Architectural Update

Julia & Zeus's California Bungalow with an Architectural Update

Marcia Prentice
Sep 25, 2012

Name: Julia & Zeus
Location: Pasadena, California
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 10 years (approximately 2 years since the remodel)

Julia and Zeus loved their California bungalow, but the space was divided into so many small rooms, and they dreamed of completely opening up the space. With a little help from two very talented architects, the main areas are now one large, connected space. Julia and Zeus love that they can stand in the living room and see through to the backyard.

Even though opening up the home made it a bit more modern, Julia and Zeus have kept the warmth of the California bungalow. The built-in seating in the dining room is a reminder of the home's roots, and Julia's pottery collection and linens from her Grandmother add warmth and soul to the home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We wanted to make a light filled and open California contemporary house out of a very typical 1930's bungalow. Back then there was a room for every purpose, making a very cellular and divided house. We wanted an open, free-flowing plan, and to make greater use of our backyard. But we also really love some of the original cabinetry with their simple hinges and sometimes clever uses, like a hidden ironing board. We wanted to re-use as much as possible.

Inspiration: California is an amazing place to live: the sunshine, great weather,
and great light. But these Mid-Century tract bungalow homes were not designed to take advantage of that. We really wanted to take advantage of everything the house and California have to offer.

Favorite Element: Pocket doors/French windows. We love the sliding doors. Our architects, Bo and Hisako, proposed a Japanese style sliding system that uses multiple tracks so the whole wall opens up to the outside.

Biggest Challenge: Integrating aspects of the original home design into the remodel. Bo and Hisako did a great job with this; preserving and transforming many built-ins — see the open shelving, ironing board/bar, old bread and dry goods drawers from the old "California cooler" in original kitchen, now part of built-in benches in dining area, and toilet throne.

What Friends Say: Not what they expected from the outside, which looks like a typical 1930s tract bungalow; they love the beams, the pocket doors.

Biggest Embarrassment: The backyard, which we have not yet landscaped at all.

Proudest DIY: It was Zeus' idea to mount the hammock hooks permanently in the sunroom walls, though we can't claim to have installed them ourselves.

Biggest Indulgence: Pocket doors

Best Advice: Don't be shy to explore ideas you're drawn to. With the help of a talented designer/architect (like Bo and Hisako), you'll be surprised at what can be done with a small space and limited budget.

Dream Sources:
We love to bring things home from our travels.

Resources of Note:




  • Sofa in living room - Room&Board
  • Orange recliner - Monte Grano nursing recliner
  • Flowered chair in living room - Ikea
  • Coffee table - Ikea
  • Lamps in living and sun room - Ikea
  • Couch in sunroom - Ikea
  • Wicker chair in sunroom, dining room table and chairs - Second hand store in Phoenix


  • Couch throw pillows - Ikea
  • Linens - Madeira, Portugal, via Julia's grandmother
  • Pottery - Street fairs in Mexico and Portugal
  • Hammock in sunroom - Merida, Yucatan, Mexico



  • Oak
  • Cork in the kitchen




  • Prints in sunroom and dining area - from 1971 calendar based on writings of Jose Saramago, bought from sidewalk vendor in Recife, Brazil
  • Embroidered wall hanging in sunroom - purchased in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico
  • Large black and white photo by window in living room, Flamenco dancers in Sevilla, Spain, taken during Julia's parents' honeymoon by her father
  • Smaller black and white photos on dividing wall - by Peter McDonough (Julia's father)
  • Embroidered wall hanging in living room - Madeira, Portugal


Thanks, Julia & Zeus!

(Images: Marcia Prentice)

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