Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

Baby Chicks! July 7, 2017

Filed under: Urban Farming — hattonhousedsm @ 1:37 pm
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Last year, we got a new batch of chicks and one of the turned out to be a rooster, then later in the summer we adopted a second rooster, so hypothetically, we could start having chicks. Raising chickens is funny, because you walk a fine line between not wanting hens to get broody and sit on your breakfast eggs, but secretly wanting a few new chicks too. A couple of our backyard chicken friends had hens become broody this year, so we were hopeful it would happen for us too.

Finally, a few weeks ago, one of our Marans sat on a few eggs and we were off to the baby chick races. We tucked a few additional eggs under her and hoped for the best. We are terrible, I mean, extremely busy chicken farmers, and we forgot to mark which day she started (don’t do that), so the last few days have been torture. Finally, last night, we checked her and there were two cracked shells. Mama hen did a great job of hiding them, but I could hear the cheeping and finally, I found them!19780520_10213570361631745_3192537266254928052_oThey were so tiny and new, I left them alone to snuggle their mama.

This morning, our favorite local photographer, @photo_nerd, came over and captured a few adorable images of the new members of our flock.


Meet Butterscotch, born 7/6/17


And Charcoal, born 7/6/17


Willowsong Midwifery and Sustainable Architecture at Green and Main July 1, 2016

13567322_1247065885305776_3956780907685438015_nIt’s rare for a project to come about that ties together so many things I love, but the “Heart of a Seed” project on Kickstarter is way up there. It is the sustainable rehab of a historic building in Des Moines that will eventually house the midwifery practice that supported me through my last two pregnancies. The husband and wife team behind this project are both friends of mine, and I’m writing to spread the word about the last week of their Kickstarter. As an added bonus, the next reach goal will fund a mosaic by my friend, Nicole K. James. I hope you’ll be interested in backing this project.

Cosette Boone is an amazing midwife. I’m quite sure I would have lost my baby had I not sought her care. She honored my concerns, helped me get blood tests, treated me with kindness, and even sought out research about my condition to help me stay calm while we treated and waited. We chose to use her services at Willowsong Midwifery/Healing Passages because I knew I’d get the highest quality prenatal care, and because the community she and her staff have created would allow me to build relationships with other mothers in my baby’s age cohort, which is important to any woman, but particularly one returning to babydom after a long break. Because of their Village philosophy, I left care with a circle of friends all mothering babies roughly the same age as my daughter.

Chaden Halfhill is a friend from my past as a representative in the architectural community. I’ve admired the craftsmanship of his firm, Silent Rivers, for many years, and he was one of my partners in running the Natural Living Expo for several years. His vision for community revitalization through preservation is one that resonates with my own philosophy, and the spaces he creates through that vision are beautiful and award winning.

Through this project, we have the opportunity to help create a preservationist minded spaced for families to welcome their babies into the world in a space that’s physically beautiful and spiritually grounding. We can save a historic building and create a safe out-of-hospital birthing experience for generations to come.

Please join me in giving what you can to help this project meet their reach goal of $46,368.







Baby Room Update May 7, 2016

Filed under: Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 10:51 am


Our “new” baby just turned one, so I’ve been making a push to finish the nursery. I used a Natart crib that I saved (clung to?) from my store, just waiting for this baby. I made the curtains from Alexander Henry fabric I found at my favorite place to shop while visiting my parents, The Fabric Corner in Arlington, Massachusetts. I even hand sewed the lining (a story for another day).

I met Brice McCasland at the Des Moines Art Festival and bought one of his paintings. He ran an auction on his Facebook page and I won this perfect painting for the baby’s room. I love starting her off with fine art. More photos to come as the room gets closer to finished.



Windows Restoration and Refinishing Update March 11, 2016

wp-1457727516370.jpgLast Fall, we got a stretch of warm weather that allowed us to kick start our windows project. This is an ongoing project, given the house has roughly 50 windows all in some state of disrepair. The warm spell allowed me to complete the finishes on the windows in the kitchen addition. These seven windows were new construction, but were never painted or stained when the previous owner installed them. This is still our “work room,” so excuse the mess, but the trim turned out great, if I do say so myself.





wp-1457577037300.jpgWe used new wood because it seemed silly to spend on historic/old growth on a room that’s new construction. Just the same, we wanted the look to flow with the rest of the house. I used a combination of General Finishes gel stain and shellac and was able to add some pretty nice depth and color to builder basic wood. These boards are 1×4 that were routered to mimic the larger trim in the rest of the house.





















wp-1457727655108.jpgWhile I worked on these windows, my engineer husband worked out a frame that we could insert in our historic windows behind the storms so we could continue working on windows through the winter, new baby permitting. He used a mural panel from one of my previous projects, so we had a lovely cartoon view for the in-progress windows.























In addition to refinishing, our historic windows get new glazing, new glass where required, new ropes, and weatherstripping. We’re excited to watch our heating bills plummet with each redone window.


Stained Glass Project Complete!

wp-1457577085643.jpgBack in 2014, I took a class at the Des Moines Art Center in stained glass, which resulted in a transom window that was almost perfect. I adapted the design of the Keith family crest to a horizontal design, and I only needed to sort out how to add the family motto “Veritas Vincit” (truth conquers). I thought about casting metal letters, buying letters that could be soldered on, or foiling letters, but before I could execute a decision, I found out I was pregnant and didn’t want to be anywhere near lead.

Flash forward to this winter, new baby on hip and struggling to move house projects forward. My new policy is to make decisions and complete projects. Pregnancy brain made it impossible for me to think straight, so I orphaned projects left and right for lacking of trigger pulling abilities. After a brief Facebook discussion, I decided to try cutting letters out of foil, allowing me to control the font, then soldering on top of the foil to give the letters depth.


I made paper drafts to get the letters spaced into the glass.


Cut the letters out of copper foil and stuck them to the glass. Then I carefully soldered over the foil (not sure why I had to get my heart set on letters with so many sharp points, but I did).












Here’s the completed project. I love how it looks, even if it is a finished transom window in an unfinished door frame. The frame is a project for another day. I’m calling this one done.


The New Tiny Person March 10, 2016

Filed under: Remodeling and Design Projects — hattonhousedsm @ 3:11 pm

wp-1457727718273.jpgWe bought the Hatton House specifically because it had four bedrooms, in the hopes that it would one day house a family of five. We’d just about given up hope when we found out our third kid was due in April of 2015. So sorry for the lack of recent updates, but we had a good excuse.

In my life before the Hatton House, I designed children’s rooms and painted murals for children. Like the cobbler’s shoeless kids, our baby is almost one and her room is just starting to come together. Hopefully, you can look forward to more consistent posts of house projects, included one about the completed nursery, but for now, here’s our new future rehabber in her native environment.


Window Restoration aka 70° November Days Are Insane November 4, 2015


I could have worked on windows all summer long, but why would I do that when I had all the time in the world? I was caring for a new baby so I guess I have some excuse this year.

Our third child turned six months old just as the weather turned cooler. I suddenly thought I needed to rush to make up for all of the time I lost in restoring our windows. It started with finishing the windows that I had pulled a year ago, just before finding out that I was pregnant. Then I started pulling windows from our addition, a space that had new construction wood windows that had never been finished by the previous owner. Now it seems like I’m in a never ending friends eat to beat the clock and the following temperature is to finish every window in the house ( which of course is not going to happen before winter).

I’ll try to post photos of my process work when I have a little more time but for now I’m happy to be back full steam in the neverending restoration.