Iowa Farmhouse Dreams

Today we traveled to Wellman, Iowa to pick up our brand new old 50s kitchen. It had snowed overnight, so the roads weren’t the greatest in our borrowed Ford Ranger pickup, but we managed to make it there in one piece.

The kitchen we were driving out to pick up was found in an 1880s farm house on about 8 acres that had been bought by the new owner at auction. Apparently, it had been a bachelor pad for about 10 years before it went to auction, and it was not very well taken care of. This kitchen was really easy for Kevin to dismantle, and he was able to take it apart in about a half an hour, after a bunch of unscrewing of 50 year old screws. There were broken doors/locks everywhere (we had to check out Top Master Locksmith for a quote to see if to fix or leave them that way). The windows weren’t in the best shape, but I’ll write about them in a second.

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Dismantling the kitchen

While Kevin was busy in the kitchen, I decided to take a look around the rest of the house. While my heart lies in the interior design of the 50s-70s, seeing turn of the century homes allowed to rot and decay hurts my feelings a little, and this was a really sad example of that.

Attic access

It had your standard 12ft. ceilings, some of the original light fixtures (at least original to whenever electricity came to this neck of the woods, which I’m sure was long after 1900), incredibly tall baseboards, windows that reached almost floor to ceiling (by Metroplex Windows & Glass), and even some wonderful push-button light switches:
Push-button light switch

I could have even sworn that I could see the plaster patchwork that was done behind the plain white wallpaper to cover up transom windows. Sigh. I’m so glad I know the window glass replacement contractors that I do, they would never do something like that.

I was happy, at least, that we were able to salvage a gorgeously molded front door with a somewhat peculiar glass window encased in it, featuring a ship on a stormy sea. It also featured one of those awesome turn-knob door ringers.

You can’t see the detail in my crappy cell phone pictures, but the center pane is surrounded by very intricately etched panes. One of the previous owners of the house decided to put siding up about 40 years ago, and while doing the job they decided that they didn’t want to use this as the front door anymore, so they plugged a bunch of insulation into the door frame and sided right over it. We pried it out of the frame and took it with us for a very reasonable price. We actually managed to pack the kitchen and the door up and made it all the way back to Iowa City without hurting any of it. We stowed the cabinets and sink at Kevin’s shop and made it a block away when one of the panes of the door’s window shattered. Kevin was pretty heartbroken, but it was one of the lower corner panes, which happens to be the least intricate, so I’m thinking we’ll be able to copy the pattern and etch it into a new pane of glass.

Wish us luck!

Window Installation Visalia

5 thoughts on “Iowa Farmhouse Dreams”

  1. Thanks to you two have just spent an hour looking at the Formica website. One of my favorite things in the world is vintage Formica(especially boomerang) so finding out that they still make it and looking at the website is my equivalent of looking at online porn. Have you checked out their metal collection? They have some cool pressed/stamped metal styles. Oh, the possibilites!

  2. Greetings, I just found your site via Houseblogs. Welcome to the tiny world of Iowa City Housebloggers!

    As I child I lived on Seymour Street for 3 years. You are right in saying its a wonderful neighborhood.

    Good luck on your projects, and if your ever want advice, don’t hesitate to ask!

  3. I found your blog from artifacts. i saw that lin. floor cloth in the 1st pics. Wow!!’m trying to find one for all my rooms. Always on the look out. If you come across any in great shape let us know.cathie

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