Built in 1880, the eastern Iowa farmhouse is rich with family history.

Generations have lived and died here, and the owner himself was born here. So when he and his wife chose to leave California after nearly 50 years, his goal became renovating the house for a new century.

“The trick was we didn’t want to change the footprint of the house. We wanted an updated, 21st century home in an 1880 farmhouse,” he says.

The couple hired Peter Goche, AIA, professor of architecture at Iowa State University in Ames. His creative interpretation of rural-meets-modern is most evident in the home’s exterior. Typical farmhouse clapboard painted soft gray is anchored at one end by a dramatic, monolithic wall of Brazilian walnut that will eventually weather to gray. A narrow side entrance is framed in mortared cinder blocks.

The homeowners also sought out interior designer Linda Austin of Austin’s Interiors & Design in Waverly. “My biggest concern or desire, after leaving our house of 23 years, was that I wanted it to feel like home. Sure, I wanted all the bells and whistles, but I also wanted it to fit the way we live and entertain,” says the wife.

The couple has collected contemporary art for years, and Austin says, that was a “big factor in how the house flows” while respecting the home’s heritage. Their eclectic and extensive collection is displayed in virtually every room in the house, even down the basement staircase. 

Casabella Portofino oiled European oak floors run throughout the entire lower level. In the living room, the modern fireplace wall makes a statement in rusted metal panels that the owner did himself using a mixture of hydrogen peroxide, vinegar and salt. 

The cook’s kitchen is outfitted with everything a self-taught chef could desire, including an eight-burner Thermador range that provides traditional, steam and convection options and a Sub-Zero refrigerator paneled to look like a piece of furniture. A large spice cabinet is directly across from the stove.

Black Silestone quartz countertops are classic look with white cabinets, reversed on the island and punctuated by a juicy quartet of orange bar chairs. Austin upped the fashion another notch by mixing black crystal knobs with traditional bin pulls. The Miseno farmhouse sink is imported from Italy, positioned directly below a window for a farmhouse touch. The dining room table was designed and constructed by Jeremy Buhr from Waverly’s The Refinery Boutique.

Decorative GP & J Baker wallpaper made in England provides a backdrop for the metal poster bed in the master suite. Black and white basketweave marble floors in the master bath complement the marble shower, accented by West Mark cabinetry in deep eggplant with a quartz countertop, matching bamboo sinks and mica-flecked wallpaper.

Original farmhouse steps lead to the compact second story that houses a narrow but efficient office, a guest bedroom and bath.

“This home is just the right size for us, and it makes me feel like I wanted – at home,” she says. He adds, “I think it’s very comfortable. The home is new and updated, but is a nod to the old farmhouse.”