I’m starting a regular feature here on the blog highlighting some of Des Moines’ best real estate for sale – all the houses I wish I could buy and fix up but can’t. Keegan and I are keeping an eye out for our forever home (and contemplating building), so I’ve been watching the local listings. Our criteria are vast, and it’s like searching for a needle in a haystack. But, maybe one of these houses could be perfect for you!
Yesterday, we went to look at an empty contemporary in West Des Moines, just north of Grand Avenue. There’s a little pocket of homes there with wooded lots that I’ve been interested in for the past few years.
The exterior front entry is one of the best parts of this house…a blue stone patio in perfect condition with a mid-century feel.
A formal entry is one of the must-haves on my wish list, so I was excited to see that this entry features two coat closets and two built-in window seats. When you walk through the front door, you immediately see this room, which appears twice as big in this photo as it does in real life. It has two sliding patio doors that look out onto a deck with a tree planted in the center. The view out the back is completely wooded and must be wonderful in the summer.
I would turn this room into a formal dining room, replace the doors, paint everything white, and install an amazing light fixture over the table. The living room is visible through the open doorway in the photo above, while the kitchen and current dining room are on the other side.
The living room has a lot going for it – tons of natural light, access to the exterior, fireplace and built-ins. The room is pretty narrow – no big screen tvs back in 1974 – so I would demo the large cabinets on either side of the fireplace, remove the hearth, and completely remodel the fireplace.
Here’s the other side of the living room…
Off to one side of the living room is a wet bar area, and behind it is an office space with a built-in desk. The laundry room is behind the living room adjacent to the office.
I would remove all of the built-ins from this office space and turn it into a kids’ playroom since it’s so close to the living room but has a door to hide the mess.
That’s pretty much it on the east side of the first floor. On the west side, there is an office, powder room, kitchen, and dining room, which is also attached to a three-season porch.
Yes, the kitchen is small and needs to be remodeled. But, that’s actually a good thing! By removing the wall between the kitchen and current dining room, you could create one large kitchen with access to the deck through the three-season room and the sliding doors. The only negative is that brick archway visible in the kitchen. It’s part of a large, thick brick wall. I’m not sure if it’s structural, but I know it will take a lot of effort to remove.
The three-season room was a great size. In the summer, the glass panes can be removed, and it becomes a screened-in porch. I would demo the walls, replacing them with posts, like we did at our current home, and turn it into an open-air covered porch.
Heading upstairs (the stairs are a cool open style and could be very Mike Brady), the master bedroom is on one side of the second floor. It’s quite spacious and could easily accommodate a king size bed. There are large windows and sliding doors to a private deck. I would replace the carpet with hardwood, switch the fireplace to gas, and give it a face lift.
The pink master bathroom is on the side of the room not pictured above. For the period of this home, this is actually a large bathroom. If you consider all of the space available, it could be pretty amazing. The closet is small, but no smaller than our current situation.
I won’t picture the other bedrooms as you can see them on the listing site. They were fairly small, but they shared a decent size bathroom. I’m curious because the roof is obviously vaulted on the exterior, but the ceilings were low and flat on the interior. A possible opportunity…
Finally, the back of the home was pretty special for the right buyer. In addition to the deck at the center of the first floor, there is a second large deck in the center of a completely landscaped space with a dry stream. No grass but you could always put a little patch in for dogs or kids to play.
Isn’t that back deck amazing? It’s like being in a treehouse.
Yes, this house needs a ton of work, but if I had an extra $150k in my pocket, I would be all over it. It’s an incredibly cool house, and it hasn’t been ruined by someone else’s remodels. You wouldn’t be paying for past owners’ mistakes. I have learned to always look beyond finishes and necessary remodels, like bathrooms, because chances are that work is going to need to be done. But, you can’t really change the overall spatial quality of a house, and this house has good space. It’s a little smaller than a lot of people are used to these days, but with some love, the right designer, and $$$, this house could be absolutely amazing. If you buy this house, please call me! I want to help design it.
By the way, my realtor friends tell me to always check Realtor.com vs. Zillow when seriously shopping. The listings are more accurate and up to date.