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Modern Milwaukee
Three homes that are urban, edgy and just a little bit retro


Mackai says the most comfortable area of the apartment is the TV nook in the bedroom.

Mod Men

Moving into the North End apartments in Milwaukee this spring, Matthew Mackai and Jeffrey Raddatz brought just a handful of furnishings with them. "We wanted a fresh start being that it was our first time living together," Mackai says.

They mixed a few pieces of artwork and accessories with high-quality midcentury replicas from sites like to create a space they both enjoy.

"Ikea worked well for my 20s but this style reflects a more mature side to our personalities," Raddatz says. "Both of us wanted very clean lines and a very modern space."

Mackai describes the style as "a little ĎMad Mení but not too literal. Itís still comfortable," he says. "It feels current and classic at the same time."

"The style also complements our want for organization and the thought that everything has a place," Raddatz says.

In just a short time theyíve created a cozy and inviting home in which they enjoy entertaining friends and family. On their wish lists is a coffee table for Raddatz and possibly some "great art" for Mackai.





Homeowner Stephanie Quinn converted an attached garage of her Wauwatosa exposed ranch into a lower level living room. It features two 8-foot sliding patio doors and stranded bamboo flooring. "I chose it because itís an eco-green product, itís extremely durable (harder than maple) and gorgeous. It has such a wild character with the honey and brown colors in it," Quinn says. It also pairs well with furniture because of its multiple wood tones, she notes. The vintage Preway fireplace is a Craigís List find from Sheboygan.

Midcentury Spin

For the last three years Stephanie Quinn has channeled her passion for modern design into the renovation of her Wauwatosa home. "My style is pushing a very, very modern and contemporary style for remodeling and decorating, but I also love midcentury furniture and accessories."

The interior designer and owner of Modern Edge Design used high-end eco-friendly materials in the rebuild of the formerly mint green 1950s exposed ranch, which included new roof, siding and windows, cork floors throughout the main level and a sleek new kitchen.

She capitalized on her large base of midcentury design resources ó from consignment shops to Internet sites ó for furniture and accessories. "I did a lot of searching and hunting for treasures, which is a part of it I really enjoy," Quinn says. "If you constantly search you will find some really cool things."

She also made the exterior spaces a priority in the renovation. "An outdoor living space is super important to me. I love to incorporate that into any house Iím designing," Quinn says.

Quinn believes there is a niche to be filled in Milwaukee in modern design. "Iíve made it my world," she says. "I decided at this time thatís what I want to focus on."

Though it wasnít part of her renovation plan, Quinn recently sold the house and purchased another í50s ranch to renovate. Sheís already designing her new outdoor space and where sheíll put the hammock.

The front door of the condo faces the Riverwalk and offers views of the Milwaukee River. Jim Fricke and Deb Miller have enjoyed watching the seasons change along the river, particularly the spring when the baby ducks walk along the Riverwalk.

Modern Love

When Jim Fricke and Deb Miller moved from Seattle to Milwaukee in 2004, they employed the same house-hunting strategy that worked for them there. "We defined what we wanted and not where," Fricke says. "We wanted to be able to walk to restaurants, a movie theater, the grocery store."

Looking for "modern urban," Fricke checked out the Third Ward, but that seemed too built up and pricey. "Initially we kind of set our mind on a condo or we thought maybe we would find one of those great midcentury ramblers, but there werenít any that met our criteria," Fricke says.

Then from across the Milwaukee River, Fricke (Miller moved to Milwaukee sight-unseen) saw the three-story glass and concrete River Homes at Beerline and knew thatís where they wanted to be. "In some ways this is sort of a vertical rambler," Fricke says.

Miller was taken with their new home immediately. "We love the neighbors so much and we have become good friends with a lot of them."

Fricke is the curator at the Harley-Davidson Museum and Miller is a collections manager at the Milwaukee Public Museum. As one would expect, they have an interesting collection of furnishings, books and artwork. "We like modern and some midcentury, but we like to incorporate personal touches into it," Fricke says.

Among their pieces is a dining table made out of bowing alley lanes ("It fits in better here than it did in Seattle," Miller says), and a photograph by well-known grunge photographer Charles Peterson of Courtney Love and daughter Frances Bean Cobain. ("We lived near his studio and he had a studio sale once a year," Fricke says.)

"Itís nice to have things with stories. I guess that is the museum part of us," Fricke says.

The couple worked with interior designer Amy Carman of Amy Carman Design to pull everything together. (Coincidentally, Carman was in Seattle in their old neighborhood when she got their call.) "The changes that we made were designed to show off what they already had," she says. "I think the best projects are working with clients who have a style and taste of their own. Itís a really good collaboration."

"One of the great aspects of collaboration," Fricke says, "is that you might have a whole bunch of interesting stuff, but you benefit when somebody new comes in and looks at it differently."