She became interested in textile and wallpaper design, and during the 1950s and 1960s, although not as well known as designers like Lucienne Day, she was commissioned by Liberty of London, Crown Wallpapers, Marks and Spencer, and the German company PW Bruck-Messel.
She was also commissioned to work on pictures in the botanical section of the National History Museum. Later in life, she returned home to Linton, near Skipton, and worked on landscape and portrait painting.
Bownas was such a private person that even her family was surprised to learn what a prolific artist she had been. When she died, her family found hundreds of paintings and textile designs in her small studio.
In 2008, Arts Development Officer Chelsea Cefai purchased 200 of her works at auction, and since then, she has been bringing Bownas's patterns back to life. A number of products using Bownas's designs are available for sale.