Reclaimed wood and vintage treasures in a rural Milford house

Homes: Reclaimed wood and vintage treasures in a rural Milford house

Reclaimed wood and vintage treasures in a rural Milford house

For Dawn and Troy Gullquist, creating their family’s perfect home on 40 acres near Milford was a labor of love.

Story: Christine Walsh

Photos: Rick Danzl

For Dawn and Troy Gullquist, creating their family’s perfect home on 40 acres near Milford was a labor of love. Troy, who works in the construction business, built the home in 2000. The couple rented a place until their house was done.

“We kind of just picked out a house plan,” Dawn said. “He made some adjustments, and we’ve made some changes over the past 19 years.”

Most recently, the Gullquists took out a bedroom, reducing the number from four to three. “We opened up that area to give more room as our family is growing,” Dawn said.

Dawn, originally from Watseka, is a registered nurse at Iroquois Memorial Hospital. She and Troy have been married 29 years and have three children, Jacob, 25, Jordan, 22, and Jenna, 20, and two granddaughters. Jacob works with Troy, and Jordan is getting ready to start working with him as well.

Troy grew up on a farm near Milford and raised pigs for 4-H. At the time Troy and Dawn were building the house, they had corn, beans and hay, horses, cows, chickens and rabbits  — and three young children. Over the years things have simplified somewhat; they’re down to one horse and two dogs now. “We don’t really consider ourselves farmers,” Dawn said.

Dawn describes her decorating style as “kind of a modern farmhouse feel.” “I look at a lot of magazines and get ideas off Pinterest, I watch some HGTV like ‘Fixer Upper;’ that’s probably one of my favorite shows,” Dawn said. “I go to different little shops I like.”

One favorite, Madhouse, is in New Albany, Ind., where one of her sisters lives.

In her decorating, Dawn tries to achieve an inviting presence. “I would like people to feel like they can come in and sit down and talk and be relaxed,” she said. “I like for my kids to be able to sit down and eat and watch TV and enjoy their time here even though they don’t live here anymore.”

Dawn said people usually remark about the home that “it’s nice and clean.” “Everything usually has a place, and it’s usually in place,” she said.

Dawn said the most challenging part about building the house was “getting the whole project done and complete so we could move in.”

That required some compromise. “He looks at things one way, and I look at them the other,” Dawn said. “We meet in the middle. He is more laid back, a very people person. I’m not so outgoing.”

Dawn loves that they got a house “designed and created for our lives. “I feel like it can be cleaned up and really presentable when it needs to be and yet be very homey,” she said. “The thing I like most is that my husband built it.”

When the grandchildren come over, their toys can be brought out and then easily picked up and put back in place when they leave. “It’s kind of adjustable,” Dawn said.

The house has a full basement, where items not in use are stored. “I don’t typically move things around a lot,” Dawn said.

Pillows and throws may be swapped in and out for different times of year. Dawn mainly sticks with whites, grays, creams and tans. “Depending on the season or what mood I’m in, I’ll use a pop of color,” she said.

The master bedroom affords a peaceful retreat for the Gullquists. The calm neutral palette is carried over into the master bathroom, which features a tub with an outdoor view.

Apothecary jars, a cabinet and shelving neatly organize everything in the laundry room.

A former bedroom has been converted into a sitting room where Dawn pays bills and watches television. The elegant but functional sitting room is classically decorated in rich shades of blue and green with a few surprise elements, like a more rustic coffee table.

In the guest bedroom, a dresser with curved drawers is accentuated by a dramatic black design on the front, while an antique chest at the foot of the bed lends a more rustic look.

In the dining room used for family gatherings and holidays, a secretary that belonged to Dawn’s grandparents has been transformed from a showcase for pictures and vases into a cocktail bar complete with glassware and decorative decanters. A Shaker dining room table topped by a wooden manual sliding perpetual calendar is surrounded by a mix of vertical slat back chairs and upholstered chairs, all under a crystal pendant chandelier.

The main bathroom is highlighted by a black vanity with center-set bathroom faucets, a black-framed mirror and coordinated sconces.

The neutral-toned living room features a vaulted ceiling and is comfortably furnished with lots of pillows and throws. There’s a reclaimed-wood TV stand and coffee table, as well as a copper end table. “I like to give old things a new purpose,” Dawn said.

The sitting area where Dawn likes to watch the sun rise has matching upholstered chairs. The Gullquists use a vintage baby chair that came from Troy’s father and is about 75 years old when their granddaughters come over. Overhead is a candle-style chandelier with crystal accents. Glass doors open onto a large stone patio with a retaining wall and fire pit. The space functions well for both everyday life and for entertaining during the summer. “There’s enough room for a bigger gathering,” Dawn said.

The kitchen has wood cabinets, some with glass fronts, showing off Dawn’s collection of dishes. “I like dishes, and so do my sisters,” Dawn said. “We have way more dishes than we need.” Metals include both stainless steel appliances and a decorative copper backsplash and some copper canisters. There’s a large island with wooden saddle stools. Overhead is a small crystal light fixture.

Dawn’s two sisters also like to decorate. “We always bounce ideas off of each other,” Dawn said. “We’ve even swapped out pillows and throws and things like that. My mom is pretty good at that too; she enjoys it. All of our homes are decorated similarly but not exactly the same.”

Dawn refurnished some of the furniture, including the dining table in the sitting area, on which she stained the top and painted the bottom. Another such piece is an antique white sideboard between the kitchen and the front door. There’s also a multi-shelved stand with drawers and a small round table in the living room and a small wooden table in the dining room.

Dawn applauds Troy for his ability to execute her ideas.

Throughout the home are various signs with sassy slogans. “I like little sayings; they speak to me,” Dawn said.

In the warmer months, the Gullquists clean out their barn, which Troy also built, and use it for entertaining family and friends at events like graduation and engagement parties. There’s a comfy black outdoor furniture set with gray cushions and coordinating pillows. A barrel accented by copper candlesticks serves as a fun end table. A barn door decorated with a large “G: personalizes the space. A nearby antique wagon is usually decorated with flowers. Hung on rope cords from the ceiling beams are three wagon wheel chandeliers with crystals dangling from them. “It’s nice, even if it’s windy or raining,” Dawn said. “In the summer, we do use it a lot.”

Currently, the barn isn’t heated or cooled and has no plumbing. “The thing I would like to do next is update the barn so we can use it all year round,” Dawn said. “That’s what I would like to be our next big project around here.”

Dawn advises others thinking of building their own home to “kind of have a house plan in mind.” “Keep a folder or scrapbook of different pictures and ideas and notes about what you like,” she suggested. “Find a good contractor; he will help you put it all together.”