Built-Ins: Embracing Your Home’s Midwestern Heritage

The Midwest encompasses about a fifth of our nation—ten states full of farmlands and industry. People make a lot of generalizations about us, no matter how big our footprint. Mention Midwestern food, and people think of hot dishes, supper clubs, and the Friday night fish fry. Ask your non-Midwestern friends what the word Midwestern makes them think: Either they’ll bring up folk with funny accents and ear-flap hats, or they’re just being nice.

Photo Credit: The Daily Herald

Photo Credit: The Daily Herald

Many supposedly “Midwestern” things aren’t just Midwestern—tornadoes, casseroles… But Prairie Style architecture isn’t one of them. The style has been borrowed all over the place, but it was born right here on Midwestern soil. It’s decidedly ours. If you live here and don’t own a Prairie Style home, you probably know someone who does.

The Prairie Style home is near and dear to us at Brunsell, because original Prairie Style homes were built during the golden age of millwork. They were born amid a backlash against mass production, when people longed again for handcrafted work. Prairie Style homes also generally tended toward natural materials, which meant a lot of wood (floors, built-in cabinetry, wood casement windows, moldings, etc.).

We believe that a great way to upgrade a Prairie Style home while preserving its design integrity is to add built-ins—a bookcase under a stairway, for example, or a wall unit for your home media items. Built-ins are already a solid part of the established style. And, hey, the world didn’t have TVs, DVD players, and stereo systems at the turn of the 19th century, so it’s your job now to prairie-stylize the way you store and display these modern-day items!

Of course, it’s vitally important that your built-in be designed and crafted true to authentic Prairie Style, including details found carried over from the trim and the molding. No cowboying allowed because harmony of elements is a central idea to the Prairie Style. The minute you add a built-in that isn’t true to the style, you detract from the look and value of your home.

Speaking of which, built-ins done right can really appreciate your home’s value, because they stay with it and add functionality. They also reduce the amount of freestanding furniture needed, which creates an actual or perceived increase in usable square footage.

What would make your Prairie Style home more comfortable or functional? More multimedia storage? Better display space for your dishes? Come talk with us about how we can custom create for you a built-in based update that embraces your Midwestern home’s heritage!