Our 1917 Farmhouse shares a home's journey
Old homes have a special place in ASHLEY DUSING’s heart which is why when she became a homeowner, she set her eye on a 100-year-old historic home 20 minutes outside of Wilmington in Riegelwood. And through her social media page, Our 1917 Farmhouse, which journeyed her home’s renovation, she discovered that a large following also appreciated the charm and uniqueness that comes with historic homes.
“Before moving to Wilmington, I had always lived in an old home. I believe the ‘newest’ home I had lived in was from 1940. I just cannot picture myself in a newer build. Old dwellings come with character. That’s not something that can easily (or at least affordably) be replicated in new construction,” Dusing says. “Old homes have history. They have a certain smell, look, quality building materials, decades or even centuries of past families.”
Dusing, who lived in Peru, Indiana and Northern Illinois growing up, lived in Wilmington with her husband until 2017 when they purchased a farmhouse in Riegelwood on its 100th birthday. The Dusings became the second family to own the home, having purchased it from the granddaughters of the original owners.
In January 2017, the couple started slowly renovating and preserving the farmhouse and Dusing decided to document the journey through an Instagram account mostly for herself and the previous homeowners.
“The day we closed, we started tearing into the house, and I started uploading photos little by little. I wanted a platform just solely to photo document our renovation and preservation journey,” she says. “There have been periods where my account was private because I just needed somewhere to throw photos, to document the journey for myself; my Instagram account was not really intended for outsiders — except for the family we purchased the house from.”
Fast forward to today and Our 1917 Farmhouse Instagram page has definitely grown beyond its initial following garnering more than 59,000 followers and her renovation efforts have been spotlighted in Flea Market Home & Living Magazine.
While the Dusings started this journey with zero renovating experience, learning from YouTube videos as they went along and hiring professionals when needed, they knew the number one goal was to maintain the characteristics that come along with an old home.
“One of my biggest pet peeves is when an old home is purchased and then completely gutted, and it looks like a new build inside. Old homes and buildings are disappearing every day,” Dusing says. “Once they are torn down and gutted of their character, they are gone. They deserve to be preserved when they can.”
In an effort to avoid replacing original fixtures, windows, doors, and more, with lesser quality material, Dusing has found Legacy Salvage in Wilmington a great spot to hunt for old house parts.
“All this to say, modern amenities are not at all a bad thing,” she adds. “We have plenty in our home that is not ‘period correct’ such a smart thermostats, modern indoor toilets and air conditioning. However, we have our original floors, doors, and as far as we know, windows.”
From the home’s bathroom lined with subway tiles and a 1930s clawfoot bathtub to the kitchen’s wooden island that came out of the garage of the 1915 farmhouse she grew up in, Dusing says her favorite spot is the library.
“That space is my dream come true. I clearly have an antique book buying problem and when house hunting, I needed a room to accommodate my ever-growing old book collection,” she says. “This room has developed and transformed beyond anything I could have ever imagined.”
Besides tons of followers that appreciate their design style, Our 1917 Farmhouse also brought a bundle of joy to the Dusings.
In 2020, the couple welcomed their son Theodore via an “unplanned” adoption when one of their Instagram followers asked to adopt her unborn child.
Of the adoption, Dusing, who was adopted herself, says “You cannot make this stuff up.” Theodore is now the star of some of the home’s photos.
Dusing says she is still very shocked at the following she garnered on social media and the fact that she is able to make a living through the platforms.
“I was sharing about our good reno days and our bad reno days, slithering critters that have made their way in the farmhouse, freshly delivered appliances that came in so severely damaged that I actually couldn’t be mad –all I could do was laugh until I cried — all of which I shared with my growing audience and people started catching on,” she says. “I get to do what I love while staying home with my son while connecting with people from all over! It does not get any better than that.”
To view more of photographer Terah Wilson’s work, go to terahwilson.com.
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