A Cozy Space for Four

Rooted in the native architectural style of Bengal, India, the bungalow became a quintessential model in the 19th century. A fresh approach, which became revolutionary during the British Empire, and later coined a California staple, the bungalow flourishes still in Lakeland’s Historic District as a coveted and cozy one-story space to call home. In this Shelter feature, we visit the Rippys’ lovely home.

Photography by Tina Sargeant

In past issues, we’ve explored the recent revival of Lakeland’s nostalgic bungalows. These low-rise cottage homes have quickly become a beloved mainstay in the city for their historic and cozy appeal. With each homeowner comes a new, fresh take on the classic style. In this issue, we interview Jordan and Kristin Rippy, homeowners since 2015 in the Lake Morton Historic District, and learn how the pair adorned the space for their family of four.

The Lakelander: When searching for a home for your family, how did you become so interested in the trend of a bungalow?

Jordan: We had our eye on the Lake Morton Historic District for a while before we purchased our home. We’ve always loved antiques and shopping at thrift stores, local shops, and estate sales, so our style just fits in a home that has history and character. 

Kristin: When we first moved to Lakeland, we lived in a new-construction home. Some friends of ours moved into the Historic District, and the first time we visited them, we fell in love with the area and with the style of the homes. There’s just so much character and attention to detail.

TL: What compelled you to tour this home specifically?

Jordan: I remember driving by it and turning around just to look at it again. We loved it before we even saw the inside. Once we got to actually tour the house, we knew it was exactly what we were looking for.

Kristin: We drove by it often. When we finally walked through it, we were smitten and didn’t even do a second walk-through. It was dreamy, and the lady who owned it said the home needed children in it again, which was just confirmation for us.

TL: What do you know of your bungalow’s history?

Jordan: We know that it was built in 1922. The previous owners lived here for 14 years and they did a ton of great work. They exposed the original 13-foot ceilings, which had been dropped. They also restored the original hardwood floors that were hidden under shag carpet when they moved in.

Kristin: They also renovated the kitchen, making it time-period appropriate, functional, and maximizing the storage space.

TL: Where and what have you invested in your bungalow since moving in?

Jordan: We’ve done some things to make the house a little more energy efficient. Since we didn’t have a ton of renovating to do, we invested a lot in furniture and décor when we first moved in. I think we saw Karen at Dixieland Relics every day for a year.

Kristin: Seriously! Karen became a part of our family and to this day loves our family like her own. I love shopping trips where I can explore and find something one of a kind. Dixieland Relics is the perfect place to do that.

TL: Which touches of creativity made it truly come together and feel like your space?

Kristin: We have a large, old, school chalkboard that we hung above a credenza in our dining room, and it changes seasonally, daily, or whenever I feel inspiration to write or draw. I like the originality it brings to our home. I also love the vibe a great vintage lamp puts off, and we have several that are visible from our main living space.

Jordan: Not long after we moved in, we built a headboard out of old barn wood that was pulled from my grandfather’s barn in North Carolina. The way our house is laid out, our bedroom is very visible, so we wanted the headboard to be a real statement piece. The fact that it’s tied to some family history makes it really special, too. 

TL: After moving in, how did you begin to make the house your home?

Kristin: We tried to find a staple piece for each room and then build off of it design wise. I also really wanted to get our daughters’ room put together as quickly as possible to make it home for them, so that was a top priority.   

TL: How has your bungalow-inspired design worked for a young family?

Jordan: It’s been great. Our two daughters practically live on the front porch.

Kristin: Bungalows already have such a coziness, so when you add kids to the equation, it becomes a home instantly.

TL: Have you enjoyed the Historic District surrounding you with kids?

Jordan: We love it. A lot of our friends who have kids the same age as ours live in the neighborhood, so that’s fun. We’re within walking distance of Lake Morton and Lake Hollingsworth, so we’ve fed a lot of ducks in the last two years. 

Kristin: We love having our own little piece of history and being surrounded by the beauty of historic homes.

TL: How has your space changed since the beginning months spent there?

Jordan: It’s just become more and more our own. The longer you live somewhere, the more you figure out the space and how it works for your family.

Kristin: It’s always changing to a certain degree, but our staples stay the same. I’m more of an “accessory” person, and I like changing up the small items in a room so I don’t get bored.

TL: How have you renovated the space?

Kristin: We painted a ton, and it’s amazing how much painting transforms a space. I’m not diminishing the work that was done by the previous owners, because it was nice to not have to do the real dirty work. We also changed out quite a few lighting fixtures. Lighting affects so much, and the fixtures themselves can make such a statement.

Jordan: I wouldn’t say we’ve “renovated,” but we’ve definitely updated a lot. We painted every wall, every piece of trim, and the fireplace. We added recessed lights, outlets, and patched a lot of plaster. The dining room had a really thick texture on the upper portion of the walls that we removed. That turned out to be a big job. We were fortunate that the previous owners did the real heavy lifting in terms of restoring the house. 

TL: What is your favorite nook in the house?

Kristin: There’s a small, square hallway in our house that we’ve nicknamed “the squallway.” It’s one of my favorites because there are six doors encased with classic Craftsman-style trim all in this one small hallway. It’s a high-traffic area, and we’ve filled one of the walls with treasures from overseas’ trips.   

Jordan: I really love our living room. On cold nights, we open the doors to the side porch and the windows above the built-ins and light a fire. It’s also where we spend the most time as a family playing cards around the coffee table or watching the girls play on the front porch.

TL: What history do you think your family will leave inside the walls of this home?

Jordan: Well, we let our girls draw and write their names all over the walls before we repainted. So there’s that. When you have little kids, it can feel like you’re always making history. Lots of firsts in this house for us. It’s the first house we’ve owned. It will always have a really special place in our family history. 

Kristin: Our daughters are at such fun ages. They’re putting on shows and singing nonstop. This house is continuously filled with laughter, joy, and drama.