By Jackie Mundt, Pratt County farmer and rancher
Over the past decade or two, farmhouse décor has been an in vogue style of interior design. It makes me chuckle when I think about people who don’t live on a farm trying to create clean and pretty spaces through white wash, distressed paint and vintage hardware. Real farmhouses are rarely as desirable as this style is made out to be.
I live in a real farm house and can guarantee my house won’t be featured on HGTV anytime soon. I honestly don’t think there is anything in my house that resembles the farmhouse style. However, the character that inspired designers to want to recreate the functional, no frills feel of country living, can be seen in many places in this old farmhouse.
Every house has its own story. Our house’s story began as a kit house made by Sears and Roebuck that was delivered by train and assembled by its owner. We don’t know the exact year the house was delivered but estimate it was likely around the 1920s.
The house was built just a few yards from the original homestead, which was still standing until about a decade ago and could fit in our kitchen. I can imagine the excitement and pride that must have been felt when this model was selected. It was a statement of perseverance and success to move from a house that was merely shelter to what was likely the equivalent of a mansion for the time.
The trade-off of our house’s cool story is it was built by farmers not professional carpenters. The house is sturdy and functional, even though it has lots of little imperfections that are a product of the original DIYers.
The house has seen a lot of lifestyle change in the last century: the installation of indoor plumbing, electrification and the move from wood stoves and chimneys to a furnace and air conditioning. Some of the remnants of these eras can still be seen in things like a few push button light switches or nob and tub lights from the original electrification, which have been preserved as novelties.
We have also seen glimpses of the interests and taste of former home owners as we have worked to make the house our own. While tearing out outdated carpeting to take advantage of the original hardwood floors, we found decorative room mats that were in style during the time of construction.
Each time we discover a new detail in the house, it’s like the house is telling the story of generations that have lived here before.
Though each family who has called this house their home has been unique, they all share some things in common. The kitchen has prepared many meals for families who work the land. The floors have been tracked with mud and dirt more times than they have been clean. The rooms have played host to moments of joy, hope, and love that hopefully outweighed the times of worry and grief. The bay windows provided protection for the extreme Kansas weather that has often been a blessing and a curse.
Our house is worn and imperfect because it is a place where life has been lived. Character like that can’t be replicated for a home good store. This house will never be as pretty as homes designed to look like the farmhouse style, and that’s OK with me. I am happy to live in this old farmhouse.
“Insight” is a weekly column published by Kansas Farm Bureau, the state’s largest farm organization whose mission is to strengthen agriculture and the lives of Kansans through advocacy, education and service.