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20 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Bungalow or Vintage Home

The Chicago Bungalow Association celebrates its 20th year in 2020! Founded in 2000, CBA has spent the past two decades advocating for the importance of our city’s affordable vintage housing stock, and equipping homeowners with resources to help them maintain, preserve, and adapt their Chicago bungalows and vintage homes.

To show appreciation for the 20,000+ dedicated homeowners who have joined as members of CBA in 20 years, we are posting one blog each month in 2020 listing 20 things of interest to bungalow and vintage home owners. #Bungalow2020!


The start of a new year comes with new aspirations. As homeowners, this means we’re excited for what the year will bring for our abodes. So let’s kick off the year with some New Year’s resolutions for your bungalow or vintage home!

When we asked homeowners on social media what their New Year's resolutions are for their bungalows and vintage homes, they shared some great plans, which we've included throughout the list below. They may give you ideas for your own home!

This year, I will:

1. Do a walk-through every season to assess the needs and wants of my home.

Drafting a maintenance plan can only be done by YOU because no two homes (or homeowners) are alike! Use our Maintenance 101 guide to learn what to look for. You can find excellent free examples online of home maintenance plans, which offer ideas on how to structure your personal plan of attack, how often to check or replace certain items, and what to prioritize.

Gabrielle T. Figure out why the bathroom fan was vented into the attic and not out the roof and fix it!

Russell R. New kitchen. Replace galvanized plumbing. Central air. 😅

Jarrod M. To completely rip out all the old cracked and hole filled dry wall and replace it with new drywall, paint, and add ceiling fans in my three bedrooms

Robb V. Tuckpointing!

@circa_1925 Enclosed back porch repair

Gloria H. Renovating the kitchen and bathroom. A new back fence. Would love to do the basement nothing fancy that would be next year.

2. Budget, budget, budget!

It’s never too early to start setting money aside. Plan both a short and long term schedule. For example, if you anticipate needing a new roof in 5 years, don’t wait 4 years to start saving.

Eve G. Work a ton of overtime and sock away cash to build out the attic!

3. Prioritize my projects.

Pro Tip: Health, safety, and keeping water out of your home come first. Next comes general maintenance and repair to get things in working condition, and after that could come renovations that you know will add to your home’s resale value.

Nely O. Remodel!! I just dont know where to start…

Amy B. Finished entire 1st floor and built out basement last year. This year- 2nd floor!!!

Julie K. Wow, I think this page should be renamed "Bungalow Warriors"! 🤣😉 My projects...finish basement bath, start main bath, new roof and siding for garage, new front porch. Whew, I'm exhausted already!

4. Discover my home’s history.

Researching the history of your home can help answer questions like: What’s original? Who lived here before me? Who built this house and when? Why were some of these design decisions made? And many more. Use our “How to Research Your Old Home” presentation as a guide (and keep in mind that since the presentation was made, Chicago building permits have become available online).

Kathy R. Research house. Cause there are like 3-4 bungalows on my block.

5. Make an effort to save and restore as much of my historic home as I can.

We could go on and on about the value of historic elements in your home. If you’re not sure how to repair or restore something, ask us! We have historic preservation experts and bungalow historians on our staff to answer questions, and we can refer you to a wide network of trusted local craftspeople and contractors who understand the value of your home’s historic charm. Examples of original elements that are worth saving and can be successfully restored more often than not are: WINDOWS (more on that below), doors, wood trim, floors, radiators, built-in shelving and drawers, and beadboard ceilings. If you can’t tell whether it’s original or not, send us a picture and we’ll let you know!

Regina O. Sand and refinish the floors

Dan M. Pull up that disease-spreading wall-to-wall carpeting in the dining room, and liberate the wood floor underneath, as we did in 2019 in the living room.

Marti P. Replacing our white vinyl windows with windows that look bungalow-appropriate!

Alex R. Stripping gross paint from the baseboards so I can stain them the same color as the crown molding.

Julie S. Going to restore woodwork and doors to the original period style. Really excited!

Jenny M. Strip my original kitchen cabinets and redo them

6. Make just one window more functional/beautiful.

Did you know that there are many small, cheap fixes you can do to make your original windows operate and insulate better? (No need to trash your original wood windows and replace with energy intensive vinyl!) Cut loose overpainted windows to make them open again, replace missing hardware, install a storm window… or check out our Window Fix-it guide for more ideas on what to tackle. We have a whole corner of our website devoted to windows!

7. Finish projects I’ve already started.

You know what we mean, and we’ve all been there.

Paul T. Finishing up the whole house remodel I started 12 years ago 😫😫😫

Kathy F. Finish painting the eaves.

Steve P. Get back to restoring the 10 doors in our kitchen. 5 have been restored so far. (Yes, 10 doors....the rear entrance, ironing board closet, pantry, kitchen bedroom, basement, attic, master bedroom, dining room, linen closet, & bathroom.....whew!

Catherine H. Started finishing basement in 2018. This year (this month) laying luxury vinyl flooring, trim and doors. This will double our living space! Can’t wait.

Heidemarie B. Finish remodeling the attic👍

Lindsay M. Finishing our back porch restoration!

Maggie H. Get all the remaining asbestos tile out of the basement and paint/seal the floors!

Mazurka W. Tape and mud the drywall I had put up in the attic. Then paint it.

8. Reimagine those things that just aren’t working for me.

You could have spaces that don’t get used and need to be reimagined. Or maybe there’s an impractical feature left by previous owners that you’d hoped might work for you. Maybe there’s a complicated project that keeps stalling and it’s time to come up with a simpler solution. If there are things in your home you’ve either not been sure how to improve, or you’ve tried to make work over and over again to no avail, now is the time to get going on it or let it go.

Lynn G. I just attacked our bedroom hallway. After ten years living in the house, we had never done anything about the gross walls and cracked ceiling. It’s time!

Traci C. Our crazy spiral stairs are the next big project

Colin H. Redo the horrific 90s kitchen into something beautiful and usable

9. Declutter!

Speaking of letting go… Once you remove the clutter, you’ll be able to see all the potential of the rooms in your home. (Make 2020 the year of 20/20 vision!) This can help you make the best plan for your projects. If you have trouble knowing where to start or overcoming the mental and emotional hurdles of decluttering, there are many helpful books, blogs, and TV shows now dedicated to this topic.

@knoxhouse Simplify. Organize.

Reginald D. Declutter the entire home

10. Give my landscape some attention.

Landscaping doesn’t need to be complicated. A touched-up fence, a few solar powered pathway lights, fresh eco-friendly mulch, and some inviting greenery can go a long way. See our landscaping resources page for “do’s and don’ts,” as well as bungalow landscape plans with a native plants list to go with it. Before you get ready to shop for plants this Spring, we’ll post a list of all the native plant sales in the Chicagoland area (check out last year’s list)!

Heather F. This year is all about landscaping--both back and front lawn. Can't wait! Love our little bungalow.

@lasirita Take care of the front yard

Mary L. Mov

e the roses to the other side of the yard. Remove weed trees. Put a hedge along the south property line.

11. Give my home a curb appeal makeover.

Aside from the landscape, how the exterior of your home looks lends to your curb appeal. Start by standing in front of your home and noticing anything that looks damaged, deteriorated, low-quality, or unattractive. Examples of improvements to make are:

12. Tackle those busted up front steps.

It may be that in the past, you had a skim coat of concrete smeared over your original steps to hide the cracks, but those skim coats don’t tend to last long with Chicago’s freeze-thaw cycles. This may be the year to finally have them repoured. While you’re at it, you may want to consider your original brick wing walls (the short walls on either side of your steps), and do some repairs or repointing. This handout from our Concrete Repair seminar with Henry Frerk Sons includes contractor referrals.

Lisa W. Front/porch steps and door

13. Properly fix my leaky/balding roof.

The maximum number of shingle layers a roof should have is three. But some of us, in an effort to avoid a complete tear off and re-shingle, maaaaybe have four or five. This can create a myriad of issues and even void your warranty, so make a plan to deal with this once and for all in the new year. You can find trusted roofers in our directory who have been recommended by bungalow owners. Just be sure to schedule the work on a sunny day so it isn’t raining on your attic floor!

14. Take a close look at my energy bills and make a plan to cut costs.

Our Energy Saving Measures guide will help you make a plan. Some of the things you can do to lower your energy bills are:

  • Always airseal first! Airsealing is the least expensive and most important part of keeping out air infiltration. Do this before insulating and it will make a huge difference.

  • Insulate--and take advantage of our free insulation program if you’re eligible. Having a well insulated and airsealed home means your home will be an average of 10 degrees warmer in the winter (or cooler in the summer). Meaning, you can adjust your thermostat accordingly and save money on your utility costs!

  • Tune or update mechanical systems.

  • Use energy efficient appliances and light bulbs. (Do you hate the blue-ish light of an LED bulb? Did you know LED light bulbs come in a variety of different tones that are warmer and dimmer?)

  • Learn about solar energy options and programs, including community solar.

  • Beware of unregulated alternative energy suppliers.

Niral P. Finding a solution for cooling the top floor better. Seems like I should consider insulation first…

Kathy R. Insulation of the attic. There is an 8 degree difference between the main floor and the top floor. Our current insulation is the old crushed paper

15. Reduce the risk of flooding on my property.

Sadly, basement flooding is a common issue for all types of homes in Chicago, old or new. The City of Chicago certainly has a responsibility to help mitigate the impact of stormwater, but as homeowners, we play a large role in managing the stormwater that falls onto our property. We are all responsible for water management in Chicago, and collectively we can make a difference. Each home’s flooding mitigation needs are unique, so use our Basement Flooding Mitigation guide to help you identify issues in your home. The guide also lists some low-cost improvements everyone can make to their property, such as:

  • Cleaning gutters.

  • Disconnecting gutter downspouts, and either extending them away from the foundation or connecting them to rain barrels.

  • Installing a rain garden.

Ryan R. This year will be more mundane tasks of keeping seepage out of my basement.

16. See how sustainable my home can get!

You may choose to use plants in your garden that are native to our region, use permeable paving materials, water your plants with rainwater collected in rain barrels, consider how composting food waste can work for you and your garden (or your block), or explore your solar energy options. You may even just improve your household’s Reduce, Reuse, Recycle habits. There are many ways we can do our part to combat the climate crisis.

Leah R. I’m certifying my garden as a native wildlife habitat. Can’t wait!

17. Make my home easier to navigate as I age.

The best time to make your home accessible is when you still have the energy and ability to do some of the work yourself! Include accessibility adjustments in your current renovation plans. Consider counter-depth, thresholds, shower grab bars, etc.

18. Know what would happen to my home if I’m no longer around to own it.

Homeownership remains a great source of wealth and opportunity for families, and passing that on to the next generation is important. Unfortunately, too many neglect to discuss and plan with their families about how this will happen. Watch this video by Robin Staggers, Special Assistant to the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, explaining how to start planning a future for property after the owner dies. Know your status, develop a plan, and tell your heirs.

19. Be realistic.

The number one rule with resolutions we all learn the hard way is: don’t overwhelm yourself! It’s not likely you’ll accomplish everything on your to-do list in just one year. But while the duties of homeownership are long-term, it’s never a bad time to assess your home’s needs and wants, and start making a plan.

20. Appreciate my home.

This year, let's take stock of what we have. There are always things we want to change, but being thankful for our homes, and appreciating what they mean for us and our families is important. We can find pride in the history and legacy of our home. We can spend more time at home with loved ones without TVs or phones. Maybe go the extra mile and create a reading nook, meditation area, or a spot to drink morning coffee and look out the window. Find small ways to love your home as it is, and remember that making improvements will take time, so you might as well enjoy that process too!

@bungalowbrutal Enjoy the process!

Good luck with your resolutions, and remember, we’re here to help! Contact our vintage home experts with your questions.

Here’s to the new year! 🎉

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