Design in the Desert- Linda Criswell, Bungalow

I often find myself walking through the Bungalow doors simply just to see what’s new. I find joy in popping in regularly, their style always familiar yet constantly refreshed and original. It’s the thrill of not knowing what will be on the floor that day that may beg me to take it home – a great new design book, the pop of color in a beautifully woven pillow, or a special piece of furniture that just arrived. 

As the sweltering summer temperatures keep me inside, I’ve been dreaming of ways to elevate my space, so I made a date with Bungalow’s co-owner Linda Criswell to chat a little more about what makes a great space, the store’s ethos, and what good design means to her.  

What do you think makes your store special? 
It’s twenty years of curated vendors layered together in a way that’s atypical of other furniture stores. We are constantly shifting the rooms, mixing in one-of-a-kind things, art, and brands that are different. What makes us even more unique is that you can have anything off the floor – if it’s not nailed down you can have it!  

What is the Bungalow look? 
It’s a lifestyle feeling in Bungalow. It’s a vibe. Our look is comfort forward, putting function before form. 

What are Bungalow clients like? 
We have the nicest customers who are so authentic! Their priority is buying quality furniture to create a space that feels and looks amazing yet is understated, without the need to have a fancy name under their sofa cushion. They value their home and the high quality of all their pieces and want a look that feels personal to them. They want nice things but don’t need to show them off. That’s what Bungalow is – everything here is very nice but comfy. 

What came first – design services or the store? 
We started as retail store and grew into taking on design projects. We call ourselves stylists because, although we can come in at the build-point, we excel at furnishing the space and making everything come together. We don’t charge for our styling fees so design can be accessible to everyone at all budget levels. We can do a full install with on-site visits for larger projects and work in-store with smaller budgets. As stylists, we are interested in making the home feel unique to that customer so we work around special sentimental pieces or existing furniture they may already have. 

What are some interesting projects you’ve worked on? 
We just finished a boutique hotel in Big Timber, Montana. That was a lot of fun and a challenge because of the big scale. We’ve done private jets, homes in Mexico, Hawaii, and the East Coast. A lot of our customers are second homeowners and end up working with us on their other homes all over the US. 

What is worth an investment? 
Our most important upholstery lines are made in the USA. That’s always been a priority, that we have upholstery that is made here. Both our top lines Lee Industries and Cisco Home are very green. They’ve won awards for the way they make the “guts” of the furniture. Considering the amount of time we spend on our sofas, it’s important to know that you’re not sitting on a pile of chemicals. I would say if you’re going to invest in anything it is to buy good upholstery. 

What are some tips for creating a great space? 
Things that bring a room to life are… Something woven. You will always see that as a thread in Bungalow. Another is plants, either living or artificial. We used to sell live plants and it was so pretty to have them but a lot of our clients are second home owners and that’s how we got into carrying artificial plants. Books are also so important. I would say that is one of the easiest and most inexpensive ways to make a room feel like someone actually lives there. 

What do you see for trends? 
Though the Bungalow “feel” hasn’t changed much over the twenty years, we’re always looking to bring something new to the market that people haven’t seen yet. Our formula has always been to lean more neutral when it comes to bigger pieces, focusing on interesting textures and movement and pop out the style with pillows, accessories, and art. Right now, the trends are leaning modern but I feel like traditional pieces are making a comeback. Color-wise, we’re seeing a lot of terracotta in varying shades. It’s a really beautiful hue and suitable for the desert.  

Let’s talk art! 
At Bungalow we carry Things Unseen which is sold exclusively here. It’s unique, original photography of vintage records and tapes. I love Lost Art Salon and what they do with rediscovered art. 

What does good design mean to you? 
A house that’s comfortable but organic with special pieces collected over time. It’s important to honor the style of the house, pay attention to the frame and the bones and, also be true to yourself. If something speaks to you, that’s what you should have.  

For shopping, interior inspiration, or full design services, visit The Bungalow showroom located in North Scottsdale at 15330 N. Hayden #120

Written by: Ruth Price

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