Old Home Updates: 1910-1950s Bungalow Renovation Ideas

Retain the charm of your 1910-1950s bungalow whilst ushering your home into the modern era. Discover expert tips and guidance for updating your historic mid century modern home.

Bungalow with brick patio

Retain the charm of your 1910-1950s bungalow whilst ushering your home into the modern era. Discover expert tips and guidance for updating your historic mid century modern home.

Are bungalow renovations a good investment?

Absolutely! With so many new builds on the rise in New Zealand, a vintage-style bungalow is considered a gem. But older bungalows often require more work to transform them into safe, stunning homes. 

At Refresh, we specialise in old home renovations, so you can rest assured our team has dealt with all of the design planning, construction, and approvals needed to return your home to pristine condition. 

Bungalow with deck extension

Renovating a bungalow – what to look out for? 

There are a few areas to consider when you plan to start your bungalow renovation:

Poor insulation

At the time these homes were built, insulation was not a priority. Check your floors, walls, and ceilings to confirm your bungalow’s insulation status.


This hazardous material was often used in walls and insulation as it was cheap and easy to produce back in the day. It may benefit you to get a professional inspection before you begin any construction on your home, as asbestos becomes a hazard once it has been disturbed.

Structural complications

Bungalows from that time period often feature undersized framing, weak foundations, or unlevel subfloor issues.  

Fire safety

Fire safety was not a big consideration when these bungalows were built. To get council consent and have a safe home, you may need to take certain precautions, especially when it comes to your home’s electrical wiring. 


Cast iron plumbing was commonly used as it was durable and long lasting. But close to 100 years later, you may start to see corrosion over time. Low water pressure is another common issue with bungalows.

Your Renovation Consultant will be well-acquainted with handling these kinds of encounters in your older bungalow. Having completed hundreds of renovations before, our team knows what it takes to complete a successful renovation, no matter the obstacles. 

A kitchen, master suite, and laundry renovation

How to renovate a bungalow – where to start?

Breathe new life into your Kiwi bungalow with a trusted design-and-build renovation process that Refresh provides.


One of the first steps towards a successful renovation is outlining a budget. Define your spending parameters from the start to alleviate stress down the line. When you choose to work with Refresh, your local Renovation Consultant will help you set your budget and stay within those limits for the renovation. If unforeseen issues arise, your Renovation Consultant will be able to show you how best to allocate your funds.


When fixing up an old house, you’ll want to consider your home’s current layout and what you would like to change. Perhaps you’d like to knock down a few walls to create an open-plan living arrangement, or focus primarily on creating a functional kitchen floor plan. For more advice on bungalow renovation floor plans, your Renovation Consultant will chat with you to assess your property and lifestyle needs.


Keeping the vintage charm of your bungalow along with a fresh modern feel can be a balancing act. Trust the Renovation Consultants at Refresh to help you achieve both of those goals through their design expertise. This stunning Onehunga 1910s bungalow became a modern marvel of a home with a sleek new kitchen, open-plan living space, and indoor-outdoor flow with a sunny deck to enjoy. The homeowners picked the modern elements they wanted to focus on (in this case a fresh and bright kitchen design and neutral bathroom) and the Renovation Consultant balanced these contemporary elements with the bungalow’s original style. 


Any great renovation requires exceptional planning. Your Renovation Consultant will work with you to build a budget, timeline, and design plan. They will also obtain any required council consent, organise a team of trusty contractors and suppliers, and oversee the entire renovation. Stay informed throughout the project via an intuitive online customer portal!

Full home renovation 1910s

Recent Bungalow Renovations

Source inspiration from New Zealand’s quintessential historic home style:

1930s Bungalow Renovation Ideas

This Auckland property received a major revamp that elevated the home’s overall function and style. Dated layouts made the house seem cramped and dim. Our team got to work on creating a spacious open-plan layout between the kitchen and living area. The use of different wood grains throughout the kitchen and bathroom keep a cosy, bungalow feel while modern light fixtures and tiles add the fresh, contemporary touch that the homeowners craved.

1920s Modern Bungalow Renovation

A Wellington bungalow was in desperate need of a refresh. Interior repairs were necessary to replace insulation and add new heating systems. Stylistically, the homeowner wished to keep a nod to the historic look and feel whilst adding clean, modern finishes. This is evident especially in the kitchen, where new wooden cabinetry, industrial pendant lights, and a deep oceanic colour palette add newness to the dated space. This room retained antique characteristics as well through copper tiling trim, brushed gold fittings, and exposed ceiling beams. Learn more by contacting a Renovation Consultant about 1920s bungalow renovations in New Zealand.

1910-1950 Bungalow renovation tips 

We’ve gathered some of our top bungalow renovation guidelines for you to keep in mind:

Open up the space

Villas built during this time period often feature closed off and cramped interiors. Create a spacious flow by knocking down walls, especially between the kitchen and living space.

A fresh coat of paint can transform anything

Even if your budget doesn’t allow for massive renovations, you can achieve a beautiful result through a fresh coat of paint. This is your opportunity to get creative with your colour palette, too! Consider lighter colours and bright whites to open and breathe new life into your home.

Mix and match paint colours

Speaking of paint, don’t limit yourself to just one shade. Part of the charm of the early and mid 20th century era was the idea of a cheery and colourful home. Your Renovation Consultant can help you pick the ideal shades for your home that will reflect light, therefore creating the illusion of more space.

Get creative with furniture and accessories

Hit up the op shops or antique stores for fun, quirky finds to add character and warmth to your home. If interior design isn’t in your wheelhouse, rely on your trusted Renovation Consultant to connect you with a professional interior designer to transform your bungalow.

retro bathroom with freestanding bathtub

Bungalow renovation budget

The cost to renovate your bungalow can vary depending on a number of factors. These historic homes can come with some of the issues we outlined earlier in the article, so be aware of potential issues with insulation, foundation, and electrical wiring that could arise.

This 1930s Sandringham bungalow was already in great shape and did not require repairs. Rather, the homeowner prioritised premium materials, modern appliances, spacious outdoor deck, and custom cabinets and wardrobes for a price that came to $225,000.

This 1950s brick bungalow in Wellington underwent a renovation to extend the home from the kitchen out into the yard, adding an attractive living area, laundry, and outdoor deck for $191,068. The new 1950s bungalow house plans were sure to include more room to relax for this growing family.

Your Renovation Consultant will be able to provide you with a more accurate cost estimate for your specific project.

Do I need council approval for a bungalow renovation?

Odds are you will need council approval for older home types. Your Renovation Consultant is responsible for acquiring any of the necessary permits and documentation to ensure your renovation complies with local codes. 


What are some key features of a 1920-1950s bungalow?

Bungalows of this period are usually simply-designed compact homes with covered front porches. Sometimes these houses incorporate built in features such as cabinets and window seats. Brick, wood, and stone are the most common building materials for these houses. To learn more about a 1920s bungalow remodel or how to decorate a 1930s bungalow, chat with an expert at Refresh Renovations.

How can I update the interior of my 1920-1950s bungalow?

Since these homes were typically compact and darker inside, a fresh element to add would be modern light fixtures. You might also consider switching to a lighter, brighter colour palette. To create a more efficient flow within the home, create an open floor plan to effortlessly connect one room to another. And finally, focus on your kitchen and bathrooms, as these are the spaces that see the most wear and tear in your home.

How can I maintain the historical integrity of my 1920-1950s bungalow while renovating?

You might consider keeping and replenishing features like exposed beams or built in shelving. Sometimes these homes have special decorative elements like doors or windows that add warmth and character.

Are there any special permits or permissions required for renovating a 1930s bungalow?

Your Renovation Consultant will take care of any council approval necessary to move forward with your home renovation.

How can I find old home renovation contractors near me?

Your Renovation Consultant has access to a wide network of suppliers and contractors who have experience with older homes. Your Renovation Consultant will act as the project manager to oversee the project from start to finish! 

How can I update the kitchen in my 1950s bungalow while maintaining its original character?

For a bungalow kitchen remodel, consider replenishing the cabinets and walls with fresh coats of paint that still reflect the colour palette of the period - colourful pastels. You might also choose new appliances that have a nod toward vintage with bubble shapes and bold hues. And finally, the iconic 1950s chequered linoleum floor is a bold, sometimes highly-coveted look that you can recreate with new flooring.

Ready to renovate your bungalow?

Get in touch with our team at Refresh today to schedule your free, no obligation consultation with a Renovation Consultant. We look forward to hearing your goals and providing you with old villa renovation ideas, 1930s bungalow extension ideas, 1940s bungalow remodel ideas, and more!

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