Magazine model home

They lavished their bungalow with love. Now a respected publication will show it to the nation.

Published February 2, 2007


Laura and Mike Barton fell in love with the idea of bungalows - after they bought one.

And it's easy to see why.

Their charming 1920 American craftsman-style bungalow, just a stone's throw from Bayshore Boulevard, stands in homage to the architectural style that charmed middle-class Americans at the turn of the 20th century.

The 3,000-square-foot, one-and-a-half story bungalow, with its comfortable front porch and dreamy, sideways views of Tampa Bay, is believed to have been built as the rectory for a nearby church.

"We were just drawn to it," says Laura, of their decision to buy the house in 1998. "We always knew that we liked simple straight lines, the Stickley style of furniture, the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, but we weren't looking for a bungalow."

The house also features a newly built playhouse, one that sweetly mimics the style of the main house, for the Bartons' 5-year-old daughter.

Both bungalow and playhouse will be spotlighted in an upcoming story in American Bungalow magazine, a national publication dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the bungalow.

Laura, 44, and Mike, 46, had been living in Temple Terrace in the late 1990s when they decided to sell their house and find something in Bayshore Beautiful or Hyde Park.

They are just the fourth owners of their 87-year-old home, which is loaded with classic bungalow features, including built-in bookcases and cabinetry. It also has some not-so-usual design elements, such as a cross motif that appears in built-in partitions and the oak ceiling beams a clue to the home's ecclesiastic past.

"When you look around, the details are so neat," says Mike, a financial adviser who works from a sunny home office above the garage.

Though the previous owner had done excellent restoration work, the Bartons continued improving their digs. Mike, who nurtures a passion for preservation, is the real sleuth.

He tracks down exact replicas of everything from press-in light switches and metal swinging screens to historically accurate paint colors. When they renovated the kitchen, he even saved the original Beauty Queen kitchen cabinets and has since installed them in his home office.

"He even preserved some original built-ins and used them for our entertainment center," Laura explains.

The couple discovered a furniture maker in Burlington, Vt., whom they commissioned to build a dining table and chairs originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as a buffet that is a faithful reproduction of one originally made by Gustav Stickley. They even went so far as to have the artisan copy the original inlay design from their home's oak hardwood floors and design it into the furniture.

"Now we can't ever move," Laura says, laughing.

Not that they'd want to.

The home is close to work for Laura, who works in communications and marketing for a marine exploration company that has offices on West Shore. Her parents built a home in Beach Park a few years ago.,

The work they've done has transformed the house into their dream home. A master bedroom and family room addition was built to preserve the integrity of the bungalow's architecture and provide additional family space.

Their daughter, Kelsey, provided the inspiration for the newly built playhouse that faithfully replicates elements of the real one, all the way down to the beadboard, screened windows and color of the front door.

On the rear of the main house, they added a screened porch, where creative wiring allows people to watch the flat-screen TV inside even when the doors are closed. They also renovated the master bedroom suite, adding space to the sleeping area and giving themselves a larger bathroom. Although luxurious, it maintains the home's historic feel, thanks to antique mirrors and beautiful reproduction mosaic tile.

American Bungalow photographer Alexander Vertikoff will shoot the home and interior later this month for a future issue. Vertikoff is considered a premier architectural photographer. His work has appeared on every cover of American Bungalow magazine, as well as in publications ranging from Architectural Digest to the New York Times.

The shoot kicks off related events scheduled for this spring in the Tampa Bay area.

The Old Seminole Heights Neighborhood Association will be hosting a presentation by the magazine's editor, John Luke, at 7 p.m. April 19 at Seminole Heights United Methodist Church, 6111 N Central Ave.

Elizabeth Bettendorf can be reached at ebettendorf@hotmail.com.