8 Things You’ll Definitely Find in a Midwestern Apartment

published Aug 28, 2019
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If you’ve only seen the Midwest from your window seat flying from one coast to the other, then you really need to make a pit stop—ASAP. There’s a lot more in between those corn fields than just copious amounts of cheese and just the dang friendliest of folks (though those are great selling points, of course!).

One of the more underrated hallmarks you’d be wont to find anywhere else? The apartments. After living in here my whole life (I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, but I now live in Chicago), observing my friends and family’s spaces, and looking at countless listings online, I’ve realized there are similarities between most apartment that just feel distinctly Midwestern: Yes, it’s the architecture, of course, but the way we decorate is pretty regional, too. Here, eight things you’re sure to see in a truly Midwestern apartment:

Bountiful built-ins

We can thank the twentieth century’s Arts and Crafts movement for one of the best features of Midwestern apartments: beautiful built-ins. There’s no need to begrudgingly move in (or out) that giant bookshelf or curio cabinet when your apartment has gorgeous storage already living in the walls. Free furniture? Major score on top of those already incredibly reasonable rents.

Credit: Katie Lukes

Modest wall decor

Listen, a picture is worth a thousand words already. Isn’t that enough? The unassuming, humble humans of the Midwest tend to show a more conservative approach when it comes to decorating their walls—and that means you’ll see only a few things hung up versus any full-blown gallery walls. They’ll proudly display just a handful portraits of their fur baby, human baby, or their favorite local artist and be perfectly content with that. Quality over quantity! 

Lots of wood

Apartments in the Midwest tend to include lot of wood beyond the built-ins and hardwood floors. You’re sure to see some wood-paneled walls (especially in basements and rec rooms) and solid wood antique furniture, too, due to the major Scandinavian and German roots in the region.

So much SPACE

There’s probably nothing that makes a Midwesterner feel better about than when someone from the coasts visits and they inevitably compare rent. Even Chicago—the Midwest’s largest city and the third largest city in the country—offers low apartment costs for being such an urban metropolis. Its median list price is only $1,800 compared to NYC’s $2,850 and L.A.’s $3,500, according to Zillow. On top of that, you’re also getting a lot more space for your money, too: When broken down in terms of rent list price per square feet, you’re getting a median of 952 square feet in Chicago at just $1.89/sq. ft. compared to NYC’s 744 square feet at a whopping $3.83. And it just gets cheaper from there: In Columbus, Ohio, for example, you’re getting a median of 1,257 square feet for only $1.03/sq. ft.!

Credit: Katie Lukes

A fireplace

For many, fireplaces are just a gorgeous accent in a living room. But for Midwesterners, they’re pretty much necessities. During the gloomy winter, a roaring fire can do wonders when you’re beyond tired of the dark, long winter that’s seeming to only get colder.

And speaking of wonders, there’s this miraculous thing called the Amish fireplace, too. Common in the Midwest, they’re essentially portable electric heat sources made to look like real fireplaces (built-in mantel and all).

Miscellaneous insulation

Fireplaces are all good and well, but what about keeping warm other rooms? Though beautiful, the charming apartments of the Midwest are drafty and require a little creativity beyond basic weatherstripping to keep warm. Our living rooms: Filled with cozy textiles as far as the eye can see. And don’t be surprised if you see a random random article of clothing stuffed into a crevice or an apartment dweller getting their blow dryer out to seal up the windows with plastic. It’s all in the name of keeping heat in—and that electric bill as low as possible.

Credit: Katie Lukes

Sports memorabilia

While they may fight you about which team is better, Midwesterners probably aren’t going to fight you about your love of sports. The area pulses with deep-rooted love for a team—it’s a way of life and culture, not just a fun event to attend occasionally with friends—and their homes reflect that. Sports memorabilia is so much a part of family history and tradition that it’s not surprising to find it proudly displayed as decoration.

Credit: Anna Spaller

Lots of cozy feelings—year round

While there might not be a catchy word for it like the Danes have, there’s just a hygge-like feeling in the Midwest that you can’t explain. Everyone’s so gosh-darned nice, welcoming, and open. After all, the shared trait among Midwesterners is to constantly apologize for not making ample space for everyone at all times—just as a reflex. We’ve even developed our own word for it: Ope. (As in “Ope! Sorry, can I just sneak right past ya?”) And you betcha this resonates in their homes, on their porches, and even in their garages. So please, come on in from the cold and place your winter boots or soggy gym shoes on the adorable “Home Sweet Home” mat—because you can bet we’ll definitely go out of our ways to make space for you in our homes.

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