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A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia

by Lauren Chorpening

My husband and I are starting to think about buying our first home or building a small cabin and keeping our apartment. Somehow building a cabin 30 minutes out of the city makes me nervous. That we’d miss out on things happening here in Des Moines, IA. That life would become less convenient. And then I heard about the Asay family. and their children are packing up their home to move to Eastern Asia later this month. They are excited for this new adventure, but it absolutely comes with costs they are willing to pay. They’ll be leaving behind their house in Ames, IA that they’ve lived in and have transformed over the last six years.

Libby is a photographer and stay-at-home mom and Tad is a mechanical design engineer. When Libby was 8 months pregnant with their oldest child, Linley, they purchased this house based on what they could make it into. “The moment we walked in our home we knew it had the potential to become the home we had hoped for. Because of the year it was built, the woodwork isn’t just simple; it has detail, history and character. One of the features at the top of our list when we were looking [was] a wood burning fireplace, so when we laid our eyes on that we were almost sold! The home was extremely outdated, but tackling home projects together is one of our favorite things to do as a couple,” shares Libby. “We could see what the home could be.” They’ve redone the kitchen, added wood trim to the 90s addition on the front of the house, painted and created an entryway. “Many projects remain that we didn’t get to (landscaping, a fence, shutter paint, bathrooms), but we are moving on and are excited to see how the next homeowners put their stamp on the place!”

Libby and Tad have an eclectic style that mixes modern, traditional and vintage elements together for a seriously comfortable and inviting look. Each room has its own personality while all flowing together seamlessly. “Our goal was to create a welcoming, peaceful atmosphere with decor that reminds us of the things we love and are grateful for in a way that is child-friendly,” Libby shares. These last weeks in their home are full of packing and gratitude for what their house has been for them. –Lauren

Photography by

1/17
Libby, Tad and their children Linley, Whittaker and Eamon in the kitchen. Photo by .
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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"The kitchen was by far our biggest undertaking. We waited until we had owned the home for nearly 3 years to jump in to that project. We just didn't have the funds nor did we know what we wanted to do with it. Because we do all of our projects in-house, we have learned that projects typically take 4x longer than anticipated and cost 4x more than budgeted," Libby shares. "With nap times to work around and only evenings and weekends to accomplish major tasks, it took about 5 months from start to finish, and it was worth every moment! The open shelves are special because we used the original fireplace mantel in the living room when making them. Tad designed the metal brackets and had a local welder craft the design. It was the only thing we outsourced!"
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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The mix of modern, traditional, industrial and vintage styles gives the house a unique and beautiful aesthetic. This space joins the kitchen, dining room, office area and sitting room all together.
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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The architectural details of the home, built in 1911, are charming. Tad and Libby have added their own style to this home without detracting from its original beauty.
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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"We actually just made this table a couple of months ago. I have always wanted a quality tufted leather ottoman, probably oval or round, to put in this room and just couldn't find the right one so in the meantime, Tad [built] this instead," Libby says.
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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"This is the living room. We struggled deciding whether or not we wanted to paint the woodwork... Up close it isn't in the best shape, but for now I'm glad it's not painted over," Libby admits. "I love that it is cozy but large enough to host a group of people. That yellow chair was gifted to me by a client of mine. It didn't fit in her home, but it adds the perfect amount of class to ours!"
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
7/17
The fireplace is one of the elements that originally sold Libby and Tad on buying this home. "Tad built the mantel from scratch along with the bookcase next to it. We had plans to put in either new tile or a concrete slab in front of the fireplace," Libby says. "I was thinking a blue and white Spanish tile would be beautiful and go with that awesome blue milk jug, which I use for our fire utensils. Looking back, I wish we would have pulled the trigger, but I don't think they would have fit the 'neutral' test for Tad."
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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"We gave the main-level back room the name 'green room' because when we moved in, it had green carpet, a subtle green paint color, and green drapes. Once we did choose a paint color for it, we went with a green tone! It is forever to us the 'green' room," Libby says. "It was an addition added to the home in the 90s and didn't have any of the original trim. To try and give the home some sort of cohesion, Tad and his dad crafted custom trim around each window and doorframe. It was a lot of work, but worth it."
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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"My favorite part about [our] upstairs bathroom is this built-in mirrored medicine cabinet. The original rusty hinges are on there. They could use some sprucing, but I love admiring the detail when I'm in there."
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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Libby has a knack for mi patterns and textures beautifully. She designed this room to be gender neutral as they didn't find out Eamon's gender before delivery.
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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The Asays love to host guests. Having a spare room set up for overnight guests allows them to accommodate visits from family and friends more often.
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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"I am in love with this chair. A $10 Habitat for Humanity ReStore find. I had intended to reupholster it and paint the wood, but I grew to enjoy all the scratches and scrapes," Libby shares. "I used to sit at this desk while editing photos until I found it more productive to be downstairs. The art 'print' framed here used to be a t-shirt. I had my own purposes for it."
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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"Our bedroom is kept incredibly simple on purpose. It is almost always clean and I've made it my goal to (almost) always make the bed each morning. It is the one space that can be clutter-free and restful. The one picture we have was taken on our wedding day. Even the vase next to it and the silver dollar tree stems were used in our wedding decor. It's important to us to have those little reminders out in the open," shares Libby.
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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A light blue accent wall, custom built headboard and side tables, and patterned bedding give this simply styled room interest without clutter.
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
15/17
The Asay family in front of their soon-to-be previous home on their way to their new place in Asia. Photo by .
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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"What we love most about our home is that all of its details are full of memories and stories."
A Home in Central Iowa Full of Memories to Take to East Asia | Design*Droits-Humains
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Their floor plan.

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Comments

  • Not my style, very mid-western (especially the choice of textiles), but it does look homey, and to each his/her own. I’d be interested in a follow up story, featuring their new home in Asia, as I have a feeling that their new home will take on a more bohemian look, with all that Asian beauty around. Culture adds sophistication. It’s just a given.

  • Would love to hear more about the kitchen counters–were they diy? They look great! Beautiful home, best of luck in Asia!

  • Totally love it….people make the home and how great it is to be involved in building your own home

  • I’m so glad you chose NOT to paint the original wood trim. Our house was built in 1920 and still has lots of original details like that. It’s part of the character that sold us on our home.

  • Best of luck to you and your family in your upcoming adventure!
    I moved to Indonesia two years ago with my husband. It has been an awesome and challenging experience. I’m also a photographer and blogger and living in SE Asia offers endless content.
    There are so many things I miss about life in the US (family, drinkable tap water, Trader Joes), but I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything!

    • That’s awesome Amanda! Do you have a website or blog? We will actually be heading your direction next month.

  • This is a testament of love, dedication and inspiration. Love what the family made of this house, very good taste, beautiful and yet good to the kids too (nothing to harm them, useful, practical without losing good taste). I only cannot fully comprehend how they can leave this home to go so far East! But then, a house is only a house, isn’t it?! All the best to you all for your future projects and thanks a lot for sharing your home with us.

  • What fun to see a home from my hometown Ames featured on DS. Thanks Lauren and thank you so much to Libby and Tad and their family for ‘inviting’ us into their charming home. Best wishes to the Asay family for their new adventures in Asia!

  • I love the kitchen shelves! And I agree about the tile. Oh well! I’ve done that sort of thing too! :-)

    Beautiful home. Ours is 1911 too & we have that exact same built in medicine cabinet/mirror!!!

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