Milwaukee Bungalows: Craftsman Style Homes

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

show route and directions
A markerHistoric Milwaukee, Inc. -
207 E Michigan St #500, Milwaukee, WI 53202, USA
[get directions]

B markerKBC Tour Company -
8151 W Woodland Ave, Wauwatosa, WI 53213, USA
[get directions]

C markerHistoric Third Ward Association -
219 N Milwaukee St, Milwaukee, WI 53202, USA
[get directions]

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

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Comments 38 comments

CriticalMessage profile image

CriticalMessage 4 years ago from Chicagoland, Illinois

Nice piece... I love the Downer St. area by UWM... Lots of distinctive bungalows around there.. Thanks for sharing this!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

That was really cool, Rose! At first I thought that they don't appear any different from normal bungalows...then I read on and saw the pictures of the stone and the other features....they are great looking homes and they are distinct from anything I have seen elsewhere. Great hub!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Critical, thanks! I am more familiar with the bungalows in the suburbs, but I know that there are so many beautiful downtown and north side bungalows, too.

Bill, thanks so much! There certainly are similarities between Milwaukee bungalows and other bungalows, but they do have their own distinct features, too.


ktrapp profile image

ktrapp 4 years ago from Illinois

I loved this "tour" of Milwaukee bungalows. I'm not far from you and have detoured off into residential neighborhoods to look at the architecture when I've been in the Milwaukee area for other reasons. The rounded door is a favorite detail of mine as well and I have to say I do find it odd that a faux fireplace would have ever been built in home in a city that has snowy winters. You have a lovely home; I am quite envious of the craftsmanship. Voted up and beautiful.


kelleyward 4 years ago

I've never been to Milwaukee but the homes you featured here look so comfortable. I love homes that have character and style but you still feel comfortable enough to lounge around. Voted up and useful. Kelley


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, ktrapp! I'm glad that I'm not the only one who is charmed by the rounded doors. You make an excellent point about the fireplaces. Before the days of central heat, a working fireplace would have been such an asset. We feel very fortunate to live in a home with such exquisite craftsmanship. Houses just aren't built like this anymore.

Thanks, Kelley! You're right that many of the Milwaukee bungalows are very comfortable. All of the houses that we looked at in the area were plenty big enough to fit a small family without feeling cramped.


DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

Your hub brought back lots of great memories. My first house (in Cedar Rapids) was a Craftsman style bungalow and I absolutely adored all the details like the woodwork, fireplace, and built-ins. One of the first things I did when I bought the house was tear up the carpet and refinish the hardwood floors. The fireplace in my living room looked very similar to yours, with the simple brick design, oak mantle, and two square windows on either side. There was a built-in oak bookcase on one side, and I suspect there had been a matching one on the other side at one point. When we built our new house, I recreated that fireplace in my kitchen and tried to replicate some of the other wood details.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

That's awesome, Deborah! How neat that you were able to refinish the hardwood floors. That fireplace layout is definitely a classic craftsman design. That's great to have the built in bookcases, too. We love having so much wood detail in our house.


TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Gorgeous hub and equally gorgeous homes. I love bungalows almost as much as I love Victorians. :) VUM.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks Terrye! Victorians are great, too.


ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

Bay windows have always been one of my fave elements of homes. It adds such character. You outline the details well here!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Christy! You're right that bay windows add so much character to houses.


CassyLu1981 profile image

CassyLu1981 4 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

I have ALWAYS wanted one of those big bay windows. We made me a little window reading nook in my house but it's just not the same LOL. Great read. Voted up and shared :)


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Cassy! Me too. Bay window reading nooks are so cozy.


Ivona Poyntz profile image

Ivona Poyntz 4 years ago from UK

I love the architecture of the bungalows: great and thorough hub


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

That's awesome. :) Thanks so much!


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

I did not realize that Milwaukee had its own style of Craftsman bungalow, my favorite type of house. They seem to make such great use of space. I love the bay windows and built-ins.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Dolores, I didn't either until my husband and I moved to Milwaukee last year. Obviously they do have many types of features that other bungalows have, but they have some of their own characteristics as well. You're right about the space.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 4 years ago from Southern Arizona

Great Hub about Milwaukee bungalows! There are so many incarnations of this iconic American architectural style. Loved the photos and video! Voted up, interesting and beautiful. Shared too!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks so much, Linda! You're right about all of the incarnations of this architectural style.


Simone Smith profile image

Simone Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

Until reading this Hub, I didn't know that there was a distinct Milwaukee Bungalow style either! Thanks for introducing me to this beautiful architectural style.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

I'm glad that I've been able to introduce so many people to this architectural style!


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 4 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

wonderful and beautifully written!


Millionaire Tips profile image

Millionaire Tips 4 years ago from USA

What a great tour of craftsman bungalow homes. They have so many wonderful features, and you have highlighted them well in your well crafted article. Voted up.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, unknown spy!

Thanks, Shasta! I really appreciate that feedback. You're right about all of the wonderful features of craftsman bungalow homes.


cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

Beautiful house and I love bungalows! One day, I want to live in one. :)


ElleBee 4 years ago

I love bungalows! Maybe I need to move to Milwaukee, because we don't have many of them here in New England!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

I hope that you get to someday!

Elle, that's too bad! There are many areas of the midwest that have beautiful bungalows.


craftdrawer profile image

craftdrawer 4 years ago

Wow interesting Hub about Bungalows. We enjoy the Victorian style mansions on the East side - the old homes really are cool...


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, craftdrawer! That's great. There is so much interesting architecture in that area of Milwaukee.


Angelo52 profile image

Angelo52 4 years ago from Central Florida

I have been inside the Chicago bungalows. It has always amazed me how well constructed and spacious those homes were compared to today's construction. They were obviously built to last!

Great article on the Milwaukee style of bungalow.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Angelo! I definitely agree with you about bungalow construction. It would be very hard to get a lot of the aspects of a bungalow in a modern construction project.


mvillecat profile image

mvillecat 3 years ago from Milledgeville, Georgia

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.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

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


FullOfLoveSites profile image

FullOfLoveSites 3 years ago from United States

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


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

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


mumicimo profile image

mumicimo 3 years ago

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.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 3 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

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.

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