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Milwaukee Bungalows: Craftsman Style Homes

Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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Until I moved to Milwaukee, I didn't know that there was a distinct Milwaukee Bungalow style. While they do share characteristics with other bungalows of this time period, they have some of their own unique features, too. Many bungalows in the Milwaukee area were built in the 1920s through 1940s, are one or one and a half stories tall, and display many similar characteristics and features. Most homes within the city limits were built in the 1920s while homes in the suburbs were built through the 1940s.

While you'll never find two bungalows that are identical, many of them exhibit American Arts and Crafts or Craftsman traditions. Craftsman homes primarily feature natural materials and principles of good workmanship. Additionally, many Milwaukee Bungalows have Art Deco, Art Nouveau, Spanish, and Tudor influences.

Here is a list of the most common characteristics of Milwaukee Bungalows. Keep reading to learn more about and see examples of each home feature.

 Milwaukee Bungalow Characteristics 

Stone and brick exteriors

Hardwork floors

Wood details

Built in china cabinets

Flowing, open main floors

Bay windows

Stained and leaded glass windows

Rounded doorways

Fireplaces

Stone and Brick Exteriors

Two of the most common exterior materials for Milwaukee Bungalows are stone and brick. As you can see in the photo examples, typically the stone choices are lighter colors while the brick color can vary quite a bit. Stucco is another popular Milwaukee Bungalow exterior material.

Many of both the stone and brick houses have a lot of neat detail work. Check out some of the doorways and window frames.

Hardwood Floors

If you live in a bungalow or have ever spent significant time in one, I'm sure it's not a surprise that hardwood floors are a common feature for Milwaukee Bungalows. We are lucky to have original hardwood floors in both of our main floor bedrooms and four season front porch. Our living room and dining room are carpeted but most likely have hardwood underneath. As you can see in the photo examples, almost all of the hardwood is in beautiful condition.

Wood Details

People comment on the wood details in our bungalow more than any other feature. I have included photos of just a few of the wood details in our living room and dining room. We have almost all of the original doors for the house, many of which are also made of wood. A few of them, like the French doors, have beautiful glass as well. You can see how all of the glass in the doors and mirrors that is beveled coordinates nicely.

Built In China Cabinets

Having a built in china cabinet has really spoiled me. Not only is it extremely space efficient, but it is so well constructed. You will have a tough time finding a modern china cabinet with wood, glass, and other characteristics that are as fine as as a bungalow's built in cabinet. Finally, many of the cabinets are spacious. We inherited a very large set of china that can serve 18 people and all but about two large serving bowls fit in the cabinet.

Check out how Milwaukee Bungalows compare with Chicago Bungalows.

milwaukee-bungalows-craftsman-arts-and-crafts-style-homes-houses

Flowing, Open Main Floors

I grew up in the Chicago area and saw this layout in quite a few Chicago bungalows, too. It goes as follows: the living room flows right into the dining room, which flows right into the kitchen. There are often at least one or two rooms off of the kitchen. We have a full bathroom and two bedrooms to the right of the kitchen. Both of the staircases (upstairs and down to the back door and basement) are off of the kitchen. While this can create a fair amount of kitchen traffic, it doesn't take any space out of the living room the way more centrally located staircases can in a house.

Bay Windows

Bay windows are one of the few Milwaukee bungalow features that our own home does not have. Instead we have four regular windows in our living room. I've included a few examples of bay windows in other bungalows in Milwaukee. You can see that many bay windows have stained glass components and/or neat brick detail around them.

Stain and Leaded Glass Windows

In addition to the stained glass that is frequently used in the Milwaukee Bungalow bay windows, there are numerous other examples of stained and leaded glass in doors, windows around doors, and small windows in the living room. Many of the stand alone stained glass windows are square or rectangle shaped with occasional circles or rounded tops (see the second photo).

We have two square stained glass windows, one on either side of our fireplace, and one rectangle stained glass window in our coat closet. (Maybe it wasn't originally the coat closet? We aren't sure.) We get so much sun in our living room that it's difficult to photograph these windows accurately. I got a shot of our rectangle window from the outside of the house (see the third photo).

Rounded Doorways

I'm still waiting to get tired of passing at least one rounded doorway in just about every block of our neighborhood. Does it remind anyone else of the Shire? A rounded doorway in my own house would pretty much make my life complete, but for now, I still enjoy seeing them on a regular basis. The front doors themselves are not rounded. Often if the entire frame is rounded, the screen door is, too.

milwaukee-bungalows-craftsman-arts-and-crafts-style-homes-houses

Fireplaces

There are a variety of fireplace styles in Milwaukee bungalows. Some houses have wood burning fireplaces, some have electric fireplaces, and some have faux fireplaces. Our house falls into this last category. I find it surprising that someone would build a mantel this detailed that wasn't for a working fireplace, but we've decided that there's no way this fireplace was ever functional. It's still a beautiful centerpiece for our living room.

Contact one of Milwaukee's historic societies or tour companies for information schedules for Milwaukee neighborhood tours.

Charming Seattle Craftsman Home Video Tour. Michael Ackerman talks Seattle Real Estate.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 05, 2013:

Thanks, mumicimo! I hope that you're enjoying Milwaukee. My husband and I absolutely love owning a Craftsman home, and I hope that you're able to purchase one at some point, too. I wouldn't count on the streetcar anytime soon, but you never know.

mumicimo on December 04, 2013:

Enjoyed this hub! I'm new to Milwaukee, but the dream of a Craftsman home is perhaps the best reason to stay here, although I look forward to a downtown streetcar in the near future. Thanks for inspiration.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 26, 2012:

Thanks so much, FullOfLoveSites! I'm really glad that you enjoyed this. You're right about Milwaukee bungalows being so charming.

FullOfLoveSites from United States on December 26, 2012:

Great feature on Milwaukee bungalows. They're really charming. I like the ones with the bay windows in particular. Voted up and beautiful.

Rose Clearfield (author) from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on December 23, 2012:

Thanks, mvillecat! You're right about the coziness of bungalows. I hope that you are able to live in one someday.

Catherine Dean from Milledgeville, Georgia on December 23, 2012:

Craftsman has always been my favorite style of home. All the earth tones and beautiful wood makes for very cozy living. Maybe one day I will be able to live in one. Great hub.