Modern & Minimal in Milwaukee — House Call

Name: Andrew and Kiel
Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Size: 1400 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned.

We moved to Milwaukee almost three years ago from San Francisco, as part of a challenge to ourselves to try a new adventure. Wisconsin is a slower pace of life than in California, and we’ve found it to be a great place to not only own our first home but to also enjoy being within it. Andrew is an apparel product developer and Kiel is a retail architectural designer — we’ve spent our careers developing things people connect with and the settings in which they connect to them, so it came naturally to approach our home as a specifically curated experience.

Our house is a 1,400-square-foot, 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom structure built in 1951. It is classified as a Cape Cod style design locally (but we’re not sure we agree with that assertion). It is essentially a standard post-war traditional-style tract home typical to the Midwest region. We purchased in 2015, picked up our paint brush and sledge hammer, and didn’t come up for air for a couple of years. We executed an aesthetic remodel of most spaces, did a minor remodel in the kitchen, and a full-gut renovation of the two main bathrooms and the master bedroom.

The favorite word we’ve heard used to describe our style is “coastal,” as it really delivers the origins of our relationship, personalities, and casual lifestyle, but when pressed we find it easiest to say that we are “Scandifornian.” We love the neutral, minimal qualities of Scandinavian/Nordic style, which delicately balance modern, traditional, and rustic sensibilities, but we also go after the light, airy, organic qualities we loved from our Californian lifestyle. We are ultimately inspired by the entirety of the California landscape, from the wild, rustic northern landscapes of Marin and Napa, to the coast, and the deserts in the south. Organic textures, both woodsy and beachy, all bathed in cool, natural light, are where we gravitate. We have shoved all of those into a Cape Cod in Middle America and feel that it’s a recipe that lends to a very happy life for us.

Our individual styles had always been pretty disparate; Andrew leans into color and pattern, while Kiel reaches toward neutrals and color blocking. When we decided to choose a home that we would remodel together, we started a shared Pinterest board and out of nowhere we started pinning the same things! Suddenly we stumbled upon a shared love for bright white spaces with minimal-leaning appointments. Once we had collected a solid Pinterest board, we agreed that it would become our filter (and settler of arguments). After we found our architectural style, Instagram began to prove to us that it’s possible to pull off our all-white idea. It’s safe to say that social media brought this house to life, and even use a hashtag (#allwhiteeverything) to help us filter our decisions!

Our all-white rule is often not understood by Wisconsin natives, who rightfully question how we could possibly want to spend the winter season — when the ground is covered in snow four months out of the year — trapped inside a seemingly-cold, white box, but we counter by reminding that those same four months are also very grey and dark, and that our white rooms maximize what light there is, winter or summer, and bring to us a great amount of peace and serenity.

At the end of our remodel, we look back and see that we were very careful with selection of architectural finishes, which allowed us room with budget to splurge on items we use every day and that can come with us if we ever move. Those things end up being textiles, like bedding and accent pillows, and key, heavy-use furniture pieces like the leather sofa and the master bed.

Thanks, Andrew and Kiel!

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