Use these 10 ideas to decorate your home with family heirlooms and vintage finds.
George Krauth has always loved bungalows. So when he, by chance, drove by this 1920s bungalow in Chattanooga, Tennessee’s
St. Elmo neighborhood, “I stopped, called, and pretty much made an offer on the spot,” says George.
The style’s hand-crafted solidity with its signature low-horizontal shape and combination of bricks and timbers reflects George’s love of the outdoors, but memories have something to do with it too. His great-grandfather owned a bungalow in Winchester, Tennessee, and George fondly remembers childhood visits to the family home. He’s filled his own home with family furniture and one-of-a-kind attic finds. He admits that his family members often say, “Oh, give that to George―he’ll know what to do with it.” We agree: He does.
Because of the wide width of his porch (one of his favorite bungalow traits), a standard-size swing would have been too small. As a solution, George ordered a custom-made swing. It anchors the space and, at 7 feet long, invites stretching out for long afternoon naps. He hung the swing by ropes to give it that perfect creak.
Framed art doesn’t have to be a painting or a photograph. George loved the color of the graphic blueprint of his great-great-great-uncle’s home in Louisville, Kentucky. He paired it with a family military portrait from the 1700s for a mix of technical and traditional styles. Tip: Use high-quality scanned copies to protect your originals.
George’s favorite collection of metal souvenir buildings and monuments―all collected during his travels―has more impact when all of the pieces are arranged together. The display is ever-changing as he adds new finds to the group.
“This is one of my favorite things,” says George of the framed envelope in the dining room. It was addressed by George’s great-grandmother to her uncle, George’s namesake, in 1917. He found it tucked away in his grandfather’s dresser. A local printer scanned and enlarged the envelope.
A Victorian aquarium becomes an interesting container for an arrangement of moss and a potted orchid. The vintage round glass Japanese fishing-net float adds color and sparkle to the sideboard.
George found the dining room’s barrel-back chairs at a flea market. “I had so much dark oak with my great-grandfather’s table and sideboard. I wanted a modern contrast,” he says. His solution was to have the chairs commercially sprayed in a light driftwood color. The light-colored wainscot adds additional contrast to the bungalow’s dark wood floors.
George completely rebuilt his kitchen, taking it back to the original size. He chose honed granite countertops, simple cabinetry, and reproduction lights to update the room while maintaining the charming bungalow feel.
Inexpensive and unexpected, wine corks serve as knobs in the kitchen. They’re attached with brass wood screws from inside the cabinet, just like regular knobs.
George was drawn to these vintage Chesapeake Bay maps because of their mustard yellow color and his love of colonial port towns. He discovered a large collection at an antiques store and bought the whole box. Covering the whole room with the maps would have been too much, but carefully placed, the grouping functions as an extension of the bed. The swing-arm lamp is a space-saving alternative when there is no room for a nightstand.
The master bedroom’s cabinet was handcrafted in Louisville years ago by someone in George’s family, making it a perfect place to keep favorite things. “It’s my memory chest,” he says. George pushed books to the back and layered the front with items such as his great-great-great-uncle’s pocket watch, a sterling silver souvenir sombrero from one of his grandparents’ trips to Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s, and his father’s old autographed baseball.