Walk into Scott and Amy Smith’s home in a secluded neighborhood of Moline, and you walk into a home made beautiful by nearly four years of Scott’s hard work, aided by a fine eye for antiques and architectural salvage.
Seven six-panel oak doors from a Galesburg, Ill., home are laid on their sides to create one-of-a-kind wainscot paneling in the dining room.
Maple torn out of a Burlington, Iowa, bowling alley lane is reconfigured and refinished to make honey-colored butcher block countertops in the kitchen.
A pointed-arch colored glass window from Scott’s grandparents’ church in Burlington hangs on a wall in the upstairs guest bedroom.
The home looks vastly different from what it did nine years ago when the Smiths — both antique buffs — found it while searching for an older home to replace their Bettendorf split-level.
At that time the 1944 Dutch Colonial-style home needed major repairs, beginning with the roof that was leaking large amounts of water into the upstairs bedroom during rain storms. “It was neglected and in very, very bad shape,” Amy says of the house. The couple initially dismissed it as too much work.
But they loved the neighborhood – a shady, tree-filled area tucked into a bluff off of Interstate 74 — and Scott was drawn to the large workshop in the basement of the garage.
Finally he said, “‘I think we need to get that house,’” Amy recalls.
Four years of work
The Smiths worked on the house for four years before moving in. In addition to refinishing and repainting every visible surface, they replaced the roof, windows and plumbing and electrical systems. They also built kitchen and master bath additions on the back, and reconfigured some first floor space to create a half bath.
And they filled the space with architectural salvage, joining the growing number of homeowners using reclaimed or reused products. In the past five years, the number of reused-material stores around the country has doubled, from 150 to 300, according to the Building Materials Reuse Association.
One particular salvage bonanza was an old farmhouse west of Wapello, Iowa, that the Smiths saw advertised in the Quad-City Times as available for “harvesting.” This was the source of the quarter-sawn oak baseboards and window trim they put in their living room, an oval window now in their master bath and a tall, built-in china cupboard in their dining room.
“We’re seeing the light of day,” Amy says of the work, but they still have projects in progress.
This summer, for example, Scott dug footings to support a 16x20-foot screened-in porch they are building behind their garage. The holes are 24 inches square and 48 to 60 inches deep, and he did all the excavating by hand, much of it using a metal coffee can as a shovel.
Where does he get all his patience?
“I teach middle schoolers, so you have to be patient,” he laughs.
Scott teaches industrial technology at John Deere Middle School, Moline. His father and grandfather also were woodworking teachers.
Amy teaches business education courses at Black Hawk College, Moline. They have two sons, Spencer, 7, and Parker, 6.
The screened-in porch looks out onto a large, spring-fed pond known as Barnard Lake. (For more on this unique Q-C natural feature, see related story.)
Living room, bath are favorites
The living room is one of Amy’s favorite areas. Scott tore out all the original, rather nondescript white-painted woodwork and replaced it with the quarter-sawn oak from the farmhouse. The crown molding, featuring countless little square dentils, was purchased new and stained and finished — another example of Scott’s patience.
“Before making cuts, I measured three or four times so that I’d know I wouldn’t run out,” Scott says of the trim.
The oak fireplace mantel was purchased from former Quad-City area preservationist Bob Yapp, and all the furnishings were picked up here and there at antique stores or estate sales.
Among them is a square-shaped piano from Boston — popular before they were upstaged by grand pianos — and the bust of a woman wearing a black rhinestone-studded hat, setting atop a Victrola.
Amy also is partial to the master bath, a 9x13-foot addition they built atop the lower-level family room.
Scott made the floor from barn board siding purchased at an Iowa City salvage business, and there is a new stained glass window from Bettendorf’s Glass Blast over the whirlpool tub.
Furnishings are not what you’d typically find in a bathroom — a crystal chandelier, an up-and-down washer/dryer, a Hoosier cabinet for linens and supplies, and a bedroom vanity that Scott plumbed to hold their white vessel sink. Against one wall is the oval window salvaged from the Wapello-area farmhouse.
6 QUICK QUESTIONS
What’s your next project? Scott is still working on the screened-in porch, and he’s building a pergola on the east side of the house incorporating six white pillars from an old LeClaire, Iowa, business.
What’s your best yard sale find? A couch and matching chair, originally from Italy, that they picked up for $50 and reupholstered for around $800. They estimate that it is worth in the thousands.
Do you have any new furniture? A black leather sofa and chair in the family room and a four-poster Arnold Palmer Collection bed in the master bedroom. That’s about it.
What was the toughest job? There have been many, but one that Scott thinks of immediately is removing paint from the brick on the front of the house. He’s still working on the garage brick. He uses a product called Peel Away 1 made by Dummond Chemicals and purchased at Sherwin Williams. A paste is applied to the brick, then a length of plastic is pressed over the paste and it sets for 12-24 hours. The paint softens and when the plastic is peeled away, much of the paint comes with it. Of course, not all of it. For final details he uses a liquid stripper (Parks) and a wire wheel on the end of an electric drill. Tedious!
Did you do all the work yourself? Most of it, but the Smiths hired the mechanical work, and the construction was done by Dana Delveau Construction, Eldridge, Iowa.
Where do you get ideas? Amy subscribes to a lot of home and garden magazines and is always tearing out photos to file in an idea folder.
A LAKE IN MOLINE?
Barnard Pond — the body of water in the back yard of today’s featured homeowners — is a natural, spring-filled depression. It is unusually large for a residential area, running the width of several properties.
Diann Moore, of the Moline Preservation Society, remembers stories of the pond being a “lover’s lane” area.
Nearby resident Nancy Lackey says she often worried about the safety of her children when they were young, but no accidents ever happened.
Q-C SALVAGE PLACES
Several Quad-City area businesses sell architectural salvage and antiques. They include:
n Salvaged Treasures, 604 E. 4th St., Davenport, (563) 323-3387, http://home.mchsi.com/~salvagedt/
n Habitat ReStore, 3629 Mississippi Ave., Davenport, (563) 391-4949, restoreqc.org
n The Restoration Place, 305 20th St., Rock Island, (309) 786-0004
n Carlson’s Barnwood Co., 8066 N. 1200 Ave., Cambridge, Ill., (309) 522-5550, carlsonbarnwood.com
n The Salvage Barn, 1147 S. Riverside Drive, Iowa City, Iowa, (800) 541-8656, ic-fhp.org/salvagebarn
Some antique stores and flea markets also sell pieces of salvage.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
n The Materials Reuse Association maintains a Web site that lists salvage places by state; buildingreuse.org/directory
n Habitat ReStore maintains a Web site of its stores; habitat.org/env/restores