Property: Living life on the level

Put away your pipe and slippers - bungalows are the new hip home.

Say the word "loft" and thoughts inevitably turn to industrial- sized fridges and mimimalist roof terraces. Say "bungalow" and images of fridge magnets and gnome-filled gardens prevail.

Traditionally chosen for their lack of stairs, rather than for their architectural appeal, bungalows have until recently been shunned by the hip and adored by those with hip replacements - but there are some surprises on the market.

Kirk Pickering is a visionary young developer better known for projects in fashionable spots such as Clerkenwell, east London, where he converted an old shipping factory. His company, Square Foot, creates unexpected spaces from unusual buildings. But while factories and warehouses offer challenges in terms of contemporary architectural design, one of his developments has been more testing than most.

Nestled behind a wall in south London lies Penington, a traditional Sixties- built bungalow, recently transformed by Square Foot into a testament to light and space. The two-bed dwelling, once a warren of small rooms, now features a modern, clean space with thoughtful use of light and colour. It is entirely open plan, with glass doors and walls which concertina onto purple decking outside.

The one-off conversion attracted great interest from prospective buyers, keen to view what was marketed through Bushells as "the party house". Manager Steve Smith is loath to use the B-word, preferring to describe Penington as a single-storey dwelling: "It's a very trendy, racy sort of property and the word bungalow doesn't tell that story. It makes it sound like a granny flat, when in reality it is an incomparable party house - even down to providing the privacy you badly need the morning after."

Party animals will be sad to learn that Penington is no longer on the market. Kirk's father, Jim Pickering, loved the property so much that he moved in - after selling his 400-year-old Essex barn with 6,000 square footage and 13 acres of land. Why the extreme change? "I was thinking of buying a penthouse in Clerkenwell. I like simplicity, not minimalism, and this place has everything I want. It's just like having a penthouse on the roof."

Has downsizing to 800 square feet been difficult? "There are no disadvantages and lots of pluses. I love being on one floor, which I would have been in a penthouse, and there is such simplicity of cleaning." Many of Jim's friends have admired his new home; but does he find there's any stigma attached to living in a bungalow? "None at all. I think they are increasingly sought after, as land is now so expensive that they are not being built anymore."

Bungalows are currently attracting much attention from the style gurus. BBC 2's Homefront recently featured a week-by-week makeover of a bungalow, once a residential home for the elderly, now transformed by cutting-edge designs such as an aromatherapy bathroom complete with mirror mosaics. And style bible Elle Decoration recently professed a fondness for low- slung homes, recommending bungalow life for the truly chic.

Though bungalows seem quintessentially British - conjuring up images of retirement homes by the sea - America has whole websites, magazines and books devoted to the subject. In American Bungalow Style, Robert Winter and Alexander Vertikoff explore how these simple structures became popular at the turn of the century, allowing people of modest means to achieve respectability.

Back in the UK, the sedate streets of Frinton heave with bungalows. But there are other, less obvious hunting grounds. Agents Ludlow Thompson are currently asking pounds 350,000 for a split-level bungalow - a rare example of one of the last architectural projects undertaken by the Crafts and Artisans Charitable Trust of Architects - in Brixton's Hillside Road.

It has been owned by stained-glass artist Maria McClafferty for the past 15 years. She has only positive things to say about bungalows: "They are fabulous. Living on one level makes life so much easier - there is no continual trekking up and down stairs."

Maria loves her home's adaptability: "It offers such opportunity. You can change it according to your needs." If arthritic knees benefit from bungalow life, then so do those who enjoy a knees-up. "It's great for parties: if you have music in one room, you can hear it all around the house."

The property has a Mediterranean feel, boasting two enormous roof terraces onto which all doors open. Maria is so fond of this way of living that she is selling her 3,000sq ft home and moving abroad in search of the real thing. She has never experienced anti- bungalow sentiment: "This place is so special. It is like a loft; and people are becoming more attracted to a modern way of living where you can expand and do different things. Bungalows are nothing to frown about."

Square Foot, 0171-253 2527; Bushells, 0181-299 1722; Ludlow Thompson, 0171-820 4100

News
Pro-Russia rebels guard a train containing the bodies of victims of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crash in Torez, Ukraine
i100
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Property
Sign here, please: Magna Carta Island
propertyYours for a cool £4m
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
Struggling actors who scrape a living working in repertory theatres should get paid a 'living wage', Sir Ian McKellen has claimed
theatre
News
Skye McCole Bartusiak's mother said she didn't use drink or drugs
peopleActress was known for role in Mel Gibson film The Patriot
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Damon Albarn is starting work on a new West End musical
artsStar's 'leftfield experimental opera' is turning mainstream
Life and Style
Paul and his father
artsPaul Carter wants to play his own father in the film of his memoirs
Sport
Ben Stokes trudges off after his latest batting failure for England as Ishant Sharma celebrates one of his seven wickets
cricket
Arts and Entertainment
Members of the public are invited to submit their 'sexcapades' to Russell T Davies' new series Tofu
tv
News
Sky's Colin Brazier rummages through an MH17 victim's belongings live on air
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game
arts + ents'The Imitation Game' stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley
Extras
indybest
News
i100... and no one notices
Arts and Entertainment
Friends reunited: Julian Ovenden, Richard Cant and Matt Bardock in rehearsals for the Donmar revival of 'My Night
with Reg'
theatrePoignancy of Kevin Elyot's play being revived just after his death
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Year 5/6 Teacher

    £100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The successful applicant w...

    Year 5/6 Teacher

    £21000 - £35000 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: The JobThe successful ...

    Business Analyst (Systems/ Incident Analyst)

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Business Analyst r...

    SAP GRC Architect / Consultant

    competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am currently looking for a PERMANENT S...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor