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Building small


A house is a house is a house. Yet sometimes, a house is more special than just that, deserving to be featured in a book. Even the "lowly" bungalow can have its place in the publishing sun.

At least that was the idea behind "Updating Classic America Bungalows," a book in a series by Taunton Publishing.
The heavily illustrated work featuring 27 homes around the country was written by Shorewoodians Caren Connolly and Louis Wasserman. There are 180 images in the 216-page
volume, which sells for $29.95.

Connolly is a landscape architect and her husband is an architect. For the past ten years, their firm — (Louis ) Wasserman & Associates — has worked out of an office in the old Fortress Building in Brewer’s Hill, at 1726 N. 1st St. Their small studio practice designs residential space, as well as historic renovations and offices. The two also do master project planning with a current emphasis on educational plan.

Bungalows, especially those in Milwaukee, were noted for their craftsmanship, Connolly pointed out. Built mostly between 1919 and 1940, the small houses highlight woodworking, stained glass, plus other design amenities. "They were not afraid to build small in those days. There was no wasted space," she pointed out. "It was a nice, simple style. These houses today are perfect for empty nesters."

In one of the design magazines it publishes, Taunton put out a call for bungalows with the potential to be included in the book. The story was to cover renovations, as well as new home construction. The firm then sent Connolly and Wasserman a box of examples it received from the solicitation. From there, they winnowed down the selection to the finalists and added some stellar examples by Wisconsin architects.

The project then took two-and-a-half years to complete, from the time the featured houses were selected to the finished product.
The couple worked closely with Rob Karosis, a New Hampshire-based landscape photographer. "Thank heavens for computer and e-mails," Connolly said of the widely spread-out publishing operations. Their editor was in Pennsylvania, the publishing firm was based in Connecticut and their subjects stretched from coast to coast.

Connolly and her husband shared the writing duties. "It was a very collaborative effort. But we’ve been working together like this since we were 19, Connolly continued. "We would describe how to do something in the house, such as dealing with ventilation and how to repair wood floors after tile was removed," Connolly indicated. Wasserman prepared most of the sidebars and all of the illustration cutline, while his wife assembled the main first draft.

Louis Wasserman and Caren Connolly

"We met so many interesting people on this project. It was great fun," Connolly said.

Among the homeowners were writers, lawyers and advertising executives.

The Wauwatosa home of Todd Badovski and Allyson Nemec is one of the bungalows highlighted in the volume. Nemec is an architect at Quorum Architects, while her husband is vice president of Cream City Construction. That firm specializes in residential remodeling throughout the Northshore and Brookfield. The couples met through mutual acquaintances and immediately shared their love of bungalows.

Their house in Washington Heights was built in 1922, according to Badovski who purchased the property in 1996 as the building’s third owner. After moving in, it took them only a couple of days to begin dreaming of what eventually they could do on the interior to better conform to their contemporary lifestyle. Retaining the structure’s exterior integrity, Badovski and Nemec built a back deck, enlarged the kitchen and gutted the second floor, among other improvements that included creating a master suite. The project took about a year.

"It worked out well. I did a preliminary plan and Al (Allyson) added some design elements. We combined our ideas," Badovski said, adding that the work wasn’t difficult. "After all, that’s what we do for our living."

The photography in their home was done on a date they will never forget: Sept. 11, 2001. "We were at work and the kids were in day care so the photographer could spend a couple of days on the job, despite what was happening on the East Coast," Badovski recalled.

While he and Nemec may eventually be looking for a larger home as their two boys grow up, they "definitely are not tired of this home," he said.