Home » home » Ahrens Acres, the official ‘before’ tour

Ahrens Acres, the official ‘before’ tour

I’ve been showing bits and snips of the house progress on Instagram but hadn’t gotten around to showing the official before photos! You can click through for a quick(ish) video home tour there.

Let’s have a little story time on how we found and decided on this fixer upper! Matt went back to Iowa in September for a business meeting and to take a look at this house we found on Redfin (just to see!) when we were initially considering the move back to Iowa. We loved the double lot, the bones and charm of the house, and that it was central to main street and the elementary school. Things that were a little nerve-racking; the house hadn’t been kept up in sometime and the age of the house (old houses are work!), and not to mention a cross-country move with five children during a pandemic.

He came back cautiously optimistic and we reviewed an extensive inspection which told us the house was solid for it’s age and the furnace, water heater, and central air were relatively new and in good repair. So all we had to do was the cosmetic updates. So yes, your girl agreed to buy a house on the internet without ever seeing it person.

I was holding my breath until we pulled up out front and was relieved that we hadn’t made a huge mistake. Lots of work and love to add in but I’m (we’re) excited to get started. So here’s the official before photos!

The Before Tour

The house was built in 1904 and has five bedrooms and three bathrooms with 2200 square feet. It has three usable floors of living space and unfinished (but clean! and dry! basement).

Come on in! We’re planning on repairing the front porch railing, building proper wood stairs, adding outdoor lighting, painting the ceiling haint blue, and adding a porch swing. The large gate and fence will also go.

Welcome, welcome! Front entry! The trim has been painted white, bamboo blinds have been added, and lighting has been replaced. We will repair the wood floor where that large grate is when the floors are refinished as it’s a remnant from the previous heating duct work. Possibly adding the original door back to the hinges going toward the kitchen.

Immediately to your left is the living room. We’ve replaced the lighting in here, and are primed for trim + paint. We’re also planning on installing a gas fireplace + side windows on that far wall near the pictured tv. It currently houses a vinyl replacement window which needs to be removed anyway.

Keep going round the living room to get to the dining room! We’ve painted the trim and walls and are waiting to install the wainscoting on the bottom half of the room. It is slow work with all of these kids up in here. Lighting has been replaced, and bamboo shades have also been installed.

Ooooh, the kitchen. She is a hot mess. This will be an eventual full remodel (possibly with the addition). Right now we’re trying to make it functional which has been difficult as all of the appliances need to be replaced yet have a 6-12 week lead time for everything. We did get our dishwasher installed in late November, praise the lord.

We’ve also updated the lighting situation with simple can lights and plan on drywalling the ceiling. My punch-list in here is long and may require a full to-do post.

This is the backporch off the kitchen with a little water closet. The entire thing will be going with the addition. It isn’t insulated, or at least not well. We only recommend using this bathroom if you’re looking to re-live your camping/outhouse days.

Up the stairs we go! Hudson’s room to the left, ours immediately following. The nursery is the far back right, then bathroom coming forward, and girls room across from Hudson’s room.

Hudson’s room was a bit of a disaster. The plaster was repaired, we switched the lighting, added bamboo shades and removed the door to the attic playroom.

We are still waiting for architect/builder plans and suggestions on how we will eventually reconfigure the upstairs so we haven’t done anything past making it functional and tidy.

This is our room. Which is very, very small for a true primary bedroom. We’re considering knocking down the wall between Hudson and our room to make a larger room for the girls. Time will tell!

Please notice the writing all over the walls! It took three layers of primer + paint to cover all of that. There was also black sharpie all over the wood trim too so I have zero regrets painting it a fresh white. Bless my sister Brianne for coming over and working so hard before we arrived. She had the whole place primed for me.

The boys’ nursery. It’s the smallest of the bedrooms but perfectly cozy for them with the very best light in the house each afternoon.

The full bathroom that services the second floor. It is small but mighty. The shower needs completely gutted due to a poor tiling job but it’s the perfect tub for the kids right now. We removed everything, bleached the daylights out of it and added some functional storage for the meantime. I don’t want to do anything structurally until we have a solid idea of what we’re doing longterm to the house. This bathroom may be eliminated and I don’t want to waste the time or money on updating it.

The girls’ room was a disaster. Everything had been painted red (even the trim! So don’t come for me wood purists) and those closets were sketchy at best. Brianne ripped the closets out for me, patched the plaster, and primed the entire room for me. HGTV, we have your newest star! Call us.

The third floor has a non-conforming bedroom and full bath. We’re using it as the playroom right now. It will all be re-configured and hopefully more useable space with proper dormer walls.

So that’s the inside! What do you think? Are we crazy (probably!) or can you see the vision?

Looking for more finished projects?

previous nurseries here|small house living|holiday home tour


  1. Aysia Edmond
    February 27, 2021 / 10:56 am

    Beautiful! We are also shopping for a house online and it has been nerve wrecking but you just gave me hope!

    • Brittney
      February 28, 2021 / 5:38 am

      Aysia! So good to hear from you. I know you’ll make whatever home you find beautiful, you’re so creative!! Send me pictures!

  2. February 19, 2021 / 6:57 am

    Wow it’s beautiful! What a treasure trove of possibility! Did you transplant from CA like we did?

    • Brittney
      February 19, 2021 / 7:31 am

      We did! Moved in to the house in late October, it’s been a whirlwind. 😉 Your house is beautiful, I love seeing it come together!

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