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Our Story

Welcome, and thanks for stopping by our bungalow!  Have a seat at the dining room table while we get the coffee pot.


Chapter 1 – in which we meet the designer:

Wanying Wilkins grew up in a small communal farm in northern China.  She lived with her grandparents in a two room home with heated day beds known as ‘Kang’s.  From her Kang, Wanying looked out on a small courtyard with a beloved peach tree.  Beyond the courtyard gate were the corn and soybean farms; and, beyond the farms lay the big city where Wanying would later attend high school.  Although electricity was in common use at the time, it was not until high school that Wanying saw her first table lamp.  Through a series of serendipitous events, Wanying worked her way up to a very fulfilling career in the lighting industry.  That chapter in her life came to a close when Wanying met and married the love of her life.  And for their wedding gifts?  Each gave the other a table lamp! After starting her family, Wanying once again answered the siren call of the table lamps.  This time with her own lighting line!

Chapter 2 – in which we meet the other guy:

Tom Wilkins grew up on the other side of the world in a small, rural community nestled among the corn and soybean farms of southern Nebraska.   He lived with his family in a two bedroom bungalow.  For those who feel compelled to place events in historical context, here are a few clues.  Clue #1: The Wilkins family could watch TV for up to half an hour before their small, black and white set overheated.  Clue #2:  Tom recalls that by the time he was of age to watch the Brady Bunch (hey, it’s mid-century modern!), the Wilkins family had moved up to a color set (what is a remote control?).   If you are of a literary persuasion, we would like to recommend “O Pioneers” by Nebraska Authoress – Willa Cather.  Although it is set many, many years earlier, Tom read the first paragraph and knew it could have been his community she was writing about.

Chapter 3 – in which we learn what a bungalow belt is:

In the early 1900’s, Chicago experienced explosive growth as an expanding economy attracted job-seekers from around the world.  Many arrived only to find themselves living in tenements of the type famously chronicled in Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle.”  Incomes soon rose however; and, an expanding middle class yearned for single family homes with small gardens.  So they hopped into their newly affordable Model T Fords and Chevrolet 490s; and, escaped to the newly constructed bungalows that sprouted in a ‘belt’ around the dense urban core.   If you would like to read more about the bungalow belt in Chicago, we recommend “The Chicago Bungalow” by the Chicago Architecture Foundation

Chapter 4 – In which the Bungalow Belt, LLC company is introduced:

The Bungalow Belt, LLC is a passion.  It is Wanying and Tom industriously at work in their 1920 Chicago Style Bungalow on the periphery of the famous Chicago bungalow belt.  It is Wanying designing ‘something different’ that will later be brought to life by her brother Hui in his factory in China.  It is the other guy, helping out with odds and ends when not tooling around town in ‘Louie’ their  1929 Chevrolet coach.
Thanks for stopping by!  If you, too like something different, stop by once in awhile to see what’s cooking.