Vintage Charm Abounds in 1920s-Era Bungalow

Interior designer Pamela Harvey breathes new life into a 1920s bungalow in downtown St. Petersburg

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While there’s no lack of new construction in St. Petersburg, sometimes the prospect of bringing the aesthetic charms of a historic property back to life is too enticing to pass up. Interior designer Pamela Harvey has seen this scenario play out many times before throughout her 20 years in the business, and it was this love for the past that brought a young widow into her office nearly two years ago. The soon-to-be-client had purchased a charming, 1920s-era bungalow in the city’s downtown area, and wanted Harvey to bring it up to modern standards for her and her two college-age children.

“Basically, everything had to be redone,” says Harvey. “The entire house was gutted down to the studs.”

In addition to bringing the house up to code as far as electrical and structural issues were concerned, the new owner also wanted a larger kitchen, a proper master bath, a laundry area upstairs, and an en-suite bath in the daughter’s bedroom. “It was 2,158 square feet when she purchased it,” says Harvey, “and 2,958 square feet when we were done.”

In terms of the look of the home, the homeowner asked Harvey for warm, inviting spaces for her, her cats, and her family—something that would reflect the house’s 90-plus years. The design team’s work is reflected from the get-go, on the structure’s façade, which was once dark brick. After a lime wash, a purposely distressed patina was achieved. The larger kitchen now features custom cabinetry and millwork (all done by St. Petersburg carpenters and craftspeople), and a mix of elements that are modern (satin gold faucets) and vintage (Moroccan lanterns) for a vibe that’s both. In the front living room, the fireplace was redesigned with black slate for some craftsman-style energy. A room hidden behind the living area by a brick wall was reborn as a small study. “She wanted a cozy space to read and watch what’s going on outside,” says Harvey, “so we kept the look here clean and simple, with the comfortable hickory lounge chairs upholstered in a wonderful work fabric from Holland & Sherry.” Upstairs, the daughter’s bedroom got its en-suite bath, as well as a window seat and two recessed bookcases. All in all, the modernization took 18 months. 

“Like all renovation jobs, the project had its moments, but it was worth it,” says Harvey. “They absolutely loved the finished house, and could not be happier with the transformation.”

Story Credits: 

Text by Luis R. Rigual

Photography by Amy Lamb

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