Danielle lives in a barn built against bluffs along the Mississippi

Guestpost by Danielle on Dec 16th

Danielle's an Audio Visual services manager at a university. She lives in this reworked barn near the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa. Her home tour is all about handmade and reused and her kitty, Jeebz.

My House

I love so much about my barn. The original wood and stone is still visible despite all the renovation. The house is completely covered in ivy, which I thought looked really cool when I moved in this summer, but it completely blew my mind when it started turning red and gold this fall.

Welcome to my home

I LOVE that it still has an open hay-loft type layout.

My "bedroom"

I think that all of the old-timey features that make this place completely unique fit in with my personality (out front I still have a hitching post — A HITCHING POST — for realz) since I've always wished I was born in my parent's generation. There was much better music back then.

My home is homemade. Handmade. Hand-me-downed. Gifted. Thrifted. My furniture all came from consignment shops, garage sales, or was given to me by family members. It somehow works together. Maybe I LIKE to wear plaid and argyle together because it looks good to me, I don't do it just to hurt your eyes.

I'm quite crafty. I love finding neglected stuff and churching it up to be my own (insert non-paid raving testimonial ad for Modge Podge here). I don't aspire to own and display expensive pieces of art. I'd rather be surrounded by photos, concert posters, books, grandma-made afghans, sketches my dad did, and all my other little odd trinkets that spark memories of important people and places.

Light is challenging in our house. The kitchen faces directly east and has three tiny windows over the sink. The west side of the house has three sets of sliding glass doors (two of which go to absolutely nothing but the deck one story below which is ridiculous and awesome), but the backyard is right up against the bluff so it blocks a lot of the afternoon sun.

Back yard

This means I get natural light when the sun rises, a little when it sets, and not much in between. I have to make due with lots of artificial light.

This place took a lot of time to make it feel like my own. I painted, weeded, hauled previous resident's shit to the curb, de-moused, decorated, and more. BUT for the first time in a long time, I'm OK with slowing down, taking time, and really working on something. Living in a big city, I definitely lost patience. When you work a lot, commute forever, then still try to make time to see friends/workout/relax, etc., it's easy to put off at-home projects. It's really satisfying to start with something that had potential, work at it, and end up with something where I can say, "Oh, you like that? I DID IT."

Plant stand

Dubuque is an interesting community. I'm from a tiny town in central Iowa, went to college here, studied abroad, moved to Chicago, then found myself missing Dubuque, of all places, pretty terribly after a few years.


As a whole, the city is very blue collar. It used to have a huge meat packing plant (Dubuque Ham!), and still sees a ton of barge traffic on the river through its lock and dam. That said, it also has quite a blossoming art scene, started an independent movie theater, lots of local boutique restaurants with great food, and the city is currently completely gutting and revitalizing the warehouse district for commercial/residential use even though it's been an abandoned (and kind of scary) part of town for years.

In Chicago, I never ever had to drive anywhere because public transportation was so great, but unfortunately Dubuque is less pedestrian friendly with all its hills. However, I only live a short walk from the school where I work and about a half a mile from downtown and the Riverwalk, so on nice days I still get to leave the car at home.


We future goals for my home include PLANTS! I. Kill. Plants. Some people say "anyone can have a green thumb," or "this plant's sooooo easy to care for you should try it," but it doesn't matter, somehow they all just die. But I'm learning. Plants clean your air, brighten up a room, and just look dang pretty. I did some research on what plants are OK for kitties, and so far I have two philodendrens and a spider plant that are all hanging nicely, as well as a tiny Tahitian bridal veil that I'm nursing back to health from one sickly little barely-rooted sprig. We'll see how this goes.

A lot of people couldn't understand why I wanted to leave Chicago (which is a great city, I know) and move to bumblefuckdubuque. I just love it. I can't explain it. Choose to live somewhere that suits you and enjoy it.

I've loved these shops:

  • Handmade Market (once a month at Empty Bottle in Chicago) is where I get all kinds of great jewelry, candles, clothes, bags, etc., all handmade by midwestern artists.
  • Yarn Soup in Dubuque feeds my hunger for all crafts string-related.
  • Second Look Consign & Design is where I got quite a bit of furniture and accessories. It's incredibly clean, and all their merchandise is nicely organized in mock living room/bedroom/dining room setups so you don't have to spend hours scrounging through cluttered shelves of crap to find what you're looking for.

Okay ENOUGH TALK! Show me the decor porn!

You've got a pretty offbeat home yourself, don't you? Send in your tour! Submit now.

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About Danielle

Danielle's an Audio Visual services manager at a university. She lives in this reconditioned barn in Dubuque, Iowa with her kitty, Jeebz.