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Understated Elegance
By Carol McGarvey | Photography by Tim Abramowitz
HOME FEATURE December 2017/January 2018
home :: home & garden :: featured homes

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Des Moines designer loves to mesh vintage and new and is passionate about old houses.

Teresa Weidmaier, an interior designer from Des Moines, is subtle in her holiday decorating. As a longtime lover of old houses, she would rather let the house itself shine in various ways, not add a layer of “holiday” over the top.

A look at her business brochure gives a portrait of her outlook. Her business is called Wavy Glass Interior Design and Preservation, with a nod to the wavy glass in many old homes’ original windows.

Teresa; her husband, Todd, owner of Iowa-Des Moines Supply; and their young son live in a 1922 Craftsman-style bungalow in the Drake University area. “When we met, I was living in an older house, but he was in a new home he had built at the Tournament Club of Iowa in Polk City,” she says. Obviously, she swayed him in her direction.

The compromise included a partial gutting of their new/old home. Some walls came down, and an open-concept floor plan emerged, along with a new kitchen, new wiring, air- conditioning, and new bathrooms and mud/laundry room. The result is a backdrop for a lively blend of repurposed furnishings and accessories with a fresh approach built in.

“I add Christmas touches a little begrudgingly,” Teresa says. “I am careful not to overdo it. I’m not a fan of traditional red and green, so I tend to gravitate to cream, blue, white, and gold.”

Built-in patina

Her love of older homes goes back a long way. “They have a built-in patina that you don’t have to produce. It’s already there.” She’s the area’s only interior designer who specializes in historic preservation in architecture. With a master’s degree in historic preservation in architecture, she was a member of the Des Moines Historic Preservation Commission from 2004 to 2016. She also helps design new homes.

She loves to shop flea markets and tag sales for interesting finds, especially furniture. “It’s important that we keep old furniture because it’s made so well,” she says. Often she paints pieces for a fresh look and even has a booth at Found Things in downtown Des Moines to encourage others to take a closer look at vintage items. In her own home or those she is helping to design, she always loves to tuck in some interesting pieces for little visual surprises.

A credenza in her living room was a treasure from a Goodwill store. “It had wallpaper all over it. But when it was cleaned up, it went back to its midcentury-modern look and is an interesting piece to display.”

Stories to uncover

Old houses often come with stories, and Teresa and Todd have enjoyed hearing about their home’s past. The original owners of Barbara’s Bake Shoppe on Ingersoll Avenue in Des Moines lived in the house for many years with their family of five children.

Another detail of the home makes for another story. In pointing out a blemish in beautiful hardwood floors, she explains that it’s a bullet hole. “I found in newspaper archives that an attempted murder-suicide took place near the front entry. A man shot his wife and then killed himself. The wife, however, lived.” New homes don’t have such stories.

The large Christmas tree in the living room has a garland of gold icicles and is decorated with photos and son-friendly ornaments, including Superman. A big burlap bow decorates the treetop. Elegant wrapped packages under the tree are in coordinated gold, black, and white papers.

Two gold deer command the mantel. A huge gold mirror hangs above it; a wreath with sparkly gold balls and ribbon hangs on the mirror.

Furnishings in the room, including classic Eames chairs and a large midcentury-modern sofa, which Teresa had re-covered, give an upscale Craftsman vibe. So do architectural details from the home’s period, including an oversize front window and two small windows flanking the fireplace over glass-front shelves.

In the open dining room and kitchen, a dark wood pedestal table and four off-white upholstered tufted chairs give an upscale look. A centerpiece of white roses in a vintage footed fruit compote adds a festive touch. It was designed by Teresa’s friend Maya Boettcher of Plum Event + Design. She also hung fresh greenery and garlands.

The table is set with vintage chargers topped by Blue Willow transferware and china salad plates. Diners have a view of a wall of vintage paintings and drawings. A bank of triple windows on one wall and double windows on another bathe the dining room in natural light. A comfy window seat adds a welcome touch.

Minimalistic style

The large open kitchen has white Shaker-style cabinets with subway tile backsplash and black countertops that lend a fresh farmhouse look. Oak hardwood floors are throughout the first story. Stainless appliances and range hood and a large gas range give a sleek feel.

On the huge island two tall white ceramic reindeer survey the scene in their minimalistic way. Blue Willow dishes in a plate rack and a matching platter on the counter repeat touches of blue.

A bar cabinet, which also is a repurposed cabinet Teresa painted, adds another vintage detail. A collection of glass cake stands sits atop another cabinet.

The master bedroom and bath and their son’s room are on the main floor. The home has about 2,700 square feet. The large second story includes a large family room, full bath, and a large guest room, which now also serves as a toy room.

Teresa enjoys pairing one-of-a-kind objects with furnishings and details her clients already own. She has had good practice in her own home.

“With the mix of old and new available, it’s all just so fun,” she says.

A vignette on the kitchen counter makes the point. An Elf on the Shelf sits next to a framed quote: “Genius is the ability to evade work by doing something right the first time.”


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