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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bungalow Pros Interior Designs draws up unique homes tailored to style, needs

Jill Kessenich, Susan Maloney of speciality shop in Lake Mills are passionate about creating wholesome, comfortable living
Courtesy of Bungalow Pros Design

While the bungalow may be fading out of the public living sphere, it still remains the home of choice for some for its practicality and coziness.

Enter Jill Kessenich, whose specialty is to create the perfect bungalow home for each and every client.

For nearly 20 years, interior designer Kessenich has sewn the fabric of bungalow living through her work at Bungalow Pros Interior Designs, a business specializing in the design of new “bungalow” homes. After launching her company online in 1997, selling pottery, books, decorative tiles and clocks — items she views as essential to bungalow living — Kessenich opened a storefront in Madison 10 years later. It, however, wasn’t what she had hoped for.


“People were hesitant to walk in when they saw the word ‘design,'” Kessenich said. “They thought the meter would start running as soon as they walked in the door.”

Kessenich relocated her shop to the quiet, yet quirky town of Lake Mills after her three-year stint in Madison. She has worked from the Main Street location and has cultivated an extensive client base over the years, ranging from projects in Madison to Milwaukee to Aurora, Illinois. Maloney, her close assistant, was one of Kessenich’s clients.

Kessenich and her assistant, Susan Maloney, work behind tchotchkes, postcards and fair trade organic coffee most days at Bungalow Jo’s, a specialty shop in Lake Mills, 30 miles east of Madison. With its high-vaulted ceilings, the store reflects classic Wisconsin personality: coziness, grit and wholesomeness. But there’s far more to this inviting store than just chocolate.

What draws Kessenich to bungalow style homes, she said, are the practical floor plans and the sense that “a family could live here,” she added. The quintessential bungalow elements are natural woodwork, built-in cabinetry, window seats, nooks and leaded glass.

“When there’s stone, wood and natural light, you feel grounded and instantly at home,” Maloney said.

The typical bungalow, which emerged as a popular living style for blue-collar families working in economies that sprung up between World Wars in the early twentieth century, have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a common area and are one-and-a-half stories tall. Kessenich designs new bungalows and tries to offer more unique places of dwelling.

Families live a more modern way of life now, Kessenich said, but the sense of homeyness intrinsic to bungalows has not departed from the classic architectural style.

Kessenich’s design process can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years. After clients solicit her expertise, she feels out their taste and preferences and presents schematics.

After taking feedback, she conducts a series of redesigns, provides numerous options and starts thinking about the particulars of the home. Following this planning is the construction period, which, at its completion, will produce a bungalow completely tailored to the style and needs of its inhabitants.

“Trying to lay out the walls, windows and doors in the most efficient way is one of my favorite parts of the process,” Kessenich said. “I also love textiles and different finishes. But I guess I really love it all.”

The American Arts and Crafts Movement is quite evident within Kessenich’s ideology. She draws from the work of Charles and Henry Greene, two brothers who created “palatial” bungalow home complementing Arts and Crafts themes in California: simpler lines, use of natural-looking wood, stained glass. The movement occurred in the United States at the same time bungalow living took off.

Maloney and Kessenich said they take away great relationships from the projects they ultimately see come to fruition. The artists in association with Bungalow Pros, Kessenich said, are also great to have in their acquaintance.

Maloney acknowledged the store’s laid back nature as key to fostering the store’s brand of “timeless designs for modern living,” she said.

“Nobody’s in a rush. They’re happy to tell you about their home and what they’re doing with it and ask us for help,” Maloney said. “People are not demanding their french fries in two minutes here.”

Above all, the two women bringing bungalow living to the forefront of comfort just want people to experience the comfortable, classic bungalow experience.

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