Bungalow Cool Air Returns

Category: Accents

So, as mentioned the other day we're now looking in to air conditioning. We had someone out for a bid and started to think more seriously about how such an arrangement would work in our house. Specifically, we're concerned that venting inside the house compliment the period-style design we're working on for our renovation.

Not surprisingly, there are nitch manufacturers who offer "vintage-style" vents. What's more surprising is that air conditioning actually did exist when our house was built--it was invented in 1902. That said, I highly doubt that first system had craftsman-styled venting. At the time it was actually just for managing temperatures for manufacturing environments. Air conditioning for human comfort was introduced via department stores in 1924 and later for residential buildings in 1928. Fast forward to 2004 and air conditioning for the House in Progress seems seriously overdue.

Anyway, historical accuracy aside these vents are appealing simply because they seem a lot more attractive than your run-of-the-mill plastic variety. We haven't settled on an exact style yet (although we have decided we have a split decision on our initial preferences), so the floor is again open for nominations!

(images from coldairreturns.com)

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I think you can use different styles for different rooms. We're dealing with the same esthetic dilemna, and our initial reaction is to use the "fancier" models in the living and dining rooms, and "plainer" models in the bedrooms. Personally, I like the 2nd and 4th options for the public rooms. I'd go with the 3rd option for private rooms.

Another question is...where do you put the cold air returns so that they don't mess up the esthetic of the room? (But we still want them to work properly.) They need to be "up high" somewhere...but where? I never see them in photographs of bungalows which claim to have central air.

There must be some kind of Sarah Susanka rule for placing utilitarian elements. (Like cold air returns and outlets.) I just don't know what those rules are.

I like the last one the best... The pattern reminds me of other woodwork found in windows, doors and built-ins in craftsman bungalows. At least out here in Pasadena, California. My husband and I really enjoy the style, but the prices for tiny bungalows here are through the roof, whether in need of repair or not. I guess we will have to make due with the occasional drive past the Gamble House and the Bungalow Heaven district.

Neat stuff! They'd be beautiful for hot air furnace intake as well, maybe as floor registers for forced hot air heating.

Julie who lives in a post WWII rancher bungalow in Nova Scotia


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Started years ago as a scrapbook, this collection of photos serves as inspiration as we restore our own bungalow. We hope you find it either useful or entertaining as well.

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