KatieOlthoff.com participates in affiliate marketing and other forms of advertising. We only recommend products and services we believe in and think they will be of use to you. As such, posts on this website may contain affiliate links. For more information, please read my disclosure policy. Thank you for your support of this website and our family.

Tour The Roosevelt: Old School, New Condos (in Central Iowa)


I posted a couple weeks ago about The Roosevelt, a 90 year old school turned into 20 brand new condos.

And then I got permission to come again and take pictures of the finished condos.


Just as I expected, the condos were A.MAY.ZING. Architectural salvage, reclaimed fireplaces, antique built-in cabinets, and exposed brick walls combine with gorgeous details to make one-of-a-kind residences.architectural salvage

This unit was high on my list of favorites.  I LOVE the dark stained wood cabinets….condos for sale

and windows…

school building aparments

And this little, brick nook would make a perfect office.

exposed brick school apartment

The condos were like something from tv or movies…one of those amazing apartments where the young professionals live in NYC.  Like in Friends.  Or 27 Dresses.  Or How I Met Your Mother.

This condo was “garden level” but you never would have known.  LOTS of windows and natural light, with an open floor plan, made it bright and homey.

adaptive renovation school condos

My friend, Sarah, and I kept trying to picture our families living in these condos.  We decided that the little nook to the left of the fireplace was probably supposed to be an office, but it would be a great place to store toys!

This unit also included a walk-in pantry closet and mudroom with custom built-ins.  And a wide hallway, leading to the bedrooms, would be perfect for a desk, bookshelves, or (again) toy storage.

condo with character in old school

This is another garden level unit.  It wasn’t my favorite, but it was still very neat. 

the roosevelt school renovation

I LOVE the exposed brick in the dining room area, and the kitchen was very nice.

roosevelt school ames iowa

But my favorite thing in that unit (not shown, because it was impossible to photograph) was a GIANT storage area under the building’s stairs.  We joked that the closet under the stairs would have been a luxurious place for Harry Potter to get away from the Muggles.

One last unit – and then I’m saving my favorites for later this week!

condo in old school

This unit had clean lines and a bit more modern feel.  The stained concrete floors need some warming up with rugs, in my opinion, but I love the exposed concrete pillars and beams, the antique built in cabinet, and the exposed brick wall in the one of the bedrooms.

school renovated into condos

The Roosevelt is close to downtown Ames, Iowa, with lots of great shops and restaurants.  It’s in a beautiful, old neighborhood and is surrounded by half a block of green space. Each condo owner has one parking spot in the attached garage and a storage locker in the building.  And inside each unit, there is a full laundry, plenty of closet space, and gorgeous bathrooms. The building has state of the art geothermal heating.

So, what do you think? Could you picture yourself living in one of these condos?

I’ll share my two favorite units later this week!  In the meantime, check out my other post about The Roosevelt (with photos of some other units) and The Roosevelt’s website.


Shared at: Funky Junk Interiors

20 Master Bedroom Makeovers for your Hump Day Snow Day

It’s Hump Day.

And a snow day for my kids (even though the snowstorm hasn’t started yet – we’re expecting 8 inches by evening.)

If you’re snowed in like me, I have the perfect distraction to keep you from dwelling on the fact that average temperatures in Iowa are supposed to be in the upper 30s, not the teens and subzero windchill we’ve had lately. (I’m not bitter at all.)

I chose my favorite 20 master bedroom makeovers on Hometalk, and put them on one handy clipboard for you to browse.  I promise, these warm and cozy rooms will make you forget that winter seems to go on forever. And the rooms are FULL of DIY projects you can do at home!

Head on over to check them out!

*Don’t forget to sign up for my new email newsletter! The first edition goes out tomorrow morning!

Master Bedroom Makeovers

Sunday Mornings on the Farm, Grace, and Free Printable Encouragement


I have a confession.

We don’t attend church nearly as often as we’d like to.

And it’s because of our farm.

You see, Bart has work to do every morning.   And some mornings, it’s a lot of work. When our barns are full, he has 4 to 6 hours of chores every single morning.

We have a hired man who works Monday – Friday.  But Bart believes, as the owner of the farm, that HE should be the one to give up his weekends to work.  And so, while he may have help with those chores Mon-Fri, on Saturdays and Sundays, he’s on his own.

Which means that I’m on my own, with two little boys for Sunday School and church.  And I’m sorry, friends, but I just can’t do it every week.   I decided one morning, after screaming at my children to get them out the door on time for Sunday School, that it’s just not worth it.  It wouldn’t matter what they learned in Sunday School that day after getting off to such a rough start.

And so, I’m working hard to give myself some grace.  In a perfect world, we would attend church every week as a family, but I’m okay with the fact that we don’t do that often right now.  My boys are young, and honestly, the church service must sound like a foreign language to them.  My youngest is naturally very active and always has been.  Asking him to sit still (and quiet!) for an hour is like asking him to cook Thanksgiving dinner.  It’s just not possible. And, let’s face it, while I’m working hard to shush my boys and keep them quietly distracted, I’m not getting much of anything out of the church service, except frustration.

I’ve decided, quite frankly, that having a mother who models Jesus’s love and patience is more important than learning to sit still and quiet for an hour.  If I could do both, I would. But I am an imperfect mom (aren’t we all?) and I just can’t do it every week.

The older members of our church are always telling me how much they love seeing kids in church, and that the boys’ noise doesn’t bother them.  And I want to ask them if they’ll sit with my kids, so that I can worship God without distractions.  Because some weeks, I need church.  I need to hear the pastor’s words and sing the Doxology with my whole heart. And I can’t do that when I’m reminding a 3 year old to use his whisper voice.

Other parents have told me that their kids sit still in church from a young age because they were taught to.  They made church a routine and the kids learned at an early age how to behave.  Sorry, friends, but I don’t buy it.  Kids are different.  Your child may sit still because they are more naturally inclined to do so.  But for my little Hurricane Isaac, it’s not appropriate to expect him to do so.  In fact, ask any preschool teacher if they would make a three year old child sit still and quiet for an hour.  They will answer, without a doubt, that it is not developmentally appropriate to expect that.  Yes, practice helps.  But no matter how many times I hand a newborn a pair of scissors, they will NOT learn how to cut a straight line. I know, from my experience as a teacher, that trying to teach a child something that is beyond their reach is frustrating for both parties.grace perfection watermark

And so, this is the phase of life we’re in. My husband is unable to attend church with our family most Sunday mornings, and I’m unable to remain patient and loving while trying to force my youngest child to do something that is completely inappropriate for his age and temperament. 

This phase is not ideal, but it’s also not permanent.  In a few more years, our oldest son will help Bart chore (right now, when he “helps,” chores end up taking more time, not less) and things will be different. 

But for now, I know that God forgives me for all of my shortcomings, and I’m trying hard to do the same.

In the end, on Sunday mornings, that’s all that matters.

(Well, that and whether or not the turkeys are cared for.)


(To download the printable above WITHOUT my website address on it, please subscribe to my email newsletter.  After you confirm your subscription, you will get an email with a link to download ALL of my free printables, without a watermark. THANK YOU for subscribing to On the Banks of Squaw Creek.)

The Ultimate Repurpose: 90-year-old school turned into brand new condos!

When I was in college as an elementary education major, my child development class required a “lab” of sorts.  I was assigned to an after school program at a local elementary school, where I worked with students, learned more about child development, and put into practice some of the things I was learning in class.

My practicum took place at Roosevelt Elementary School, in a beautiful old neighborhood in Ames, Iowa.  Last month, I had the opportunity to visit Roosevelt Elementary again, more than 10 years later, this time getting a behind-the-scenes look at the “adaptive renovation” that has been in the process for the past three years.

The school was built in 1923-24 and closed in 2005. In December 2005, RES-Development, Inc. began working on plans to renovate the former school into 20 single family condos.

I first heard about the project just a few weeks ago, and was immediately intrigued.  I love anything and everything old, and I love it even more when it’s been repurposed into something new that works with today’s lifestyles.  We’ve done just that with our 100 year old farmhouse, and I’ve done it over and over with my upcycling projects.  Transforming an old school into new homes is the ultimate repurpose, in my opinion.

Great care was taken to preserve the character of the old school.  Woodwork was taken down carefully, refinished, and reinstalled.  New windows mimic the original style. Light fixtures in the hallways have period charm, and special details, like these water fountains, were left in tact.

2015-01-13 13_41_08

But the most amazing part of this renovation is that every unit is different and finished with custom details and antique pieces that are anything but builder-basic. 

roosevelt fireplaces

The day I visited, contractors were working on some finishing touches – antique built in cabinets and fireplaces were being installed and refinished in the remaining units.

2015_01_13_13_39_13(rev 0)

Some of the units are more modern, and others are more traditional.  Many feature exposed brick walls and all have LOTS of charm. (Next three photos courtesy RES-Development, Inc.)

Screenshot 2015-02-19 14.19.42

Screenshot 2015-02-19 14.20.17
Screenshot 2015-02-19 14.20.37

This weekend, February 20, 21 and 22, Roosevelt Reimagined is hosting an Open House, where anyone can tour the building and get a first hand look at the renovations. 

And, if you’re looking for a new home, there are still 6 units for sale!


To see more pictures of some of the finished units, visit Roosevelt Reimagined.
And here’s a gorgeous photo of a decorated condo in the Ames Tribune.

Shared at Funky Junk Interiors

Feeding Brains instead of Chickens: Chicken Feeder Forward Facing Bookshelves

These galvanized troughs were once chicken feeders.  Now they’re feeding my childrens’ brains (with books!) instead of feeding chickens.

chicken feeders forward facing bookshelves

This project is part of a complete makeover for this room.  The makeover started when I spontaneously painted the room dark brown this summer, in a desperate attempt to get my 3 year old to nap better. (I thought a darker room would help.  It didn’t.)

A few weeks later, I found bunk beds at a garage sale for $40.  Have I ever told you how much I LOVE garage sales?  I mean, really, $40?  Amazing, right?

But I didn’t want to bunk the beds right away. Why? Because I’ve always loved rooms with matching twin beds, like this oneOr this oneOr even this one.  And this was my chance to decorate a room that way.

And so, dark brown walls, garage sale bunk beds, and gingham sheets on clearance for $3 (yes! $3!) started this room on the path towards rustic & reclaimed.

One of my favorite projects in this room so far is the Chicken Feeder Forward Facing Bookshelves behind the door.  I found these chicken feeders in an old barn and have always wanted to use them in my house somewhere.  I LOVE the rusty galvanized patina, and the contrast with the brown walls so so perfect in person.


How to Install Chicken Feeder Forward Facing Bookshelves:

forward facing bookshelves tutorialSupplies:
Step 1: Locate studs on the wall.  This is so important whenever you’re going to hang something heavy on the wall.  Ask me how I know this.  Use a stud finder or tap gently on the wall in a horizontal line, listening for a different sound (hollow vs. solid.) Mark the studs with a pencil or chalk.

Step 2: Hold up your chicken feeder where you want it and mark two spots for screws inside the feeder, one on each stud line.

Step 3: Start a pilot hole in the metal chicken feeder.  I tried to drill a pilot hole, but the drill bit kept slipping.  So, I used a screw and hammer to start the hole.  Hold the screw (or big nail – that might have worked better, but I didn’t have any handy) where you want the hole, and hit it hard with the hammer.

Step 4: Using long screws (I think mine were 2 inches), screw the chicken feeder to the wall.

Step 5: Repeat with the other two chicken feeders.  I used a level to follow the line of the studs AND make sure that the chicken feeders were straight on the wall.

I used a book to space out the chicken feeders – they are about 12 inches apart, just like the forward facing bookshelves on Adam’s dresser.

repurposed chicken feeders

There’s still a long to-do list for this room, including (but not limited to):
  • Custom shelving/wall art above each bed
  • Wall art by Adam’s bed
  • Toy storage under the beds
  • New rug
  • Repaint floor or put down new flooring.
  • Window coverings
  • Something awesome on the north wall
  • Paint trim
  • Nightstands
  • Lamps
Be sure to follow along by email to see full tutorials on all the projects in this room, and facebook and instagram for regular room updates!

Shared at: Funky Junk Interiors, Motivational Monday, Blue i Style

My #1 Family (and Facebook) Rule: Use Nice Words


One of the most important rules in our family is pretty basic: use nice words.

Use Nice Words

When my oldest son was a toddler, it seemed as if “Use nice words” came out of my mouth every other sentence.

Whenever he demanded, instead of asked, for something, I replied with, “Use nice words.”

When he yelled at me because I couldn’t find a toy that he hadn’t played with in months, I reminded him to “Use nice words.”

When he screamed at his brother for messing up his Lego creation, I calmly asked him to, “Use nice words.”

Use nice words is a good rule and good reminder.  It applies to a multitude of sins, but also specifically and positively redirects the misbehavior.

And over the years, I’ve been able to cut down on the times I have to say, “Use nice words” throughout the day.  (Right now, the phrase has been replaced with, “We don’t throw things” thanks to little Hurricane Isaac.)

But lately, I feel like screaming USE NICE WORDS to a different audience.  Instead of reminding my two little boys, I feel like I need to remind the adults I interact with on facebook.

It doesn’t seem like I should have to teach adults of the same rule I’ve been working hard to drill into my kids, but I guess I do.  My facebook feed has been full of drama the past few days, which is my fault for sharing my opinions, I guess.  But I’m more than a little frustrated by the disrespectful comments that have appeared in response.

Tuesday, I posted an article from my friend, Sara, titled, “Guess What? GMOs are SAFE!” and as I expected, it stirred up some controversy.  The controversy is FINE with me, but one commenter started insulting the intelligence of another commenter.  And so, I reminded everyone to USE NICE WORDS.

Today, I shared an article (on my personal page) about vaccines. I must be a glutton for punishment.  I generally try to avoid controversial topics on facebook.  (But I’m also trying to avoid working on taxes, so maybe I subconsciously posted it to distract myself. Just goes to show how much I hate tax time.)

I didn’t share the article because I’m pro-vaccines (although I am.)  I shared the article because the author made a point that sounded a lot like a grown-up version of USE NICE WORDS. 

“Hating the Anti-vaxer isn’t going to solve the problem. Calling the Anti-vaxer an imbecile is also not going to solve the problem.”  (Full article here.)

Like I said, a grown up, issue specific translation of use nice words.

Here’s the deal, you guys…this world is full of controversy.  And I realize that sometimes people feel very strongly about these controversial issues. 

But it doesn’t matter if you’re pro-GMO or anti-GMO – use nice words.

It doesn’t matter if you’re pro-vaccines or anti-vax – use nice words.

It doesn’t matter how you feel about gay marriage, gun rights, Obamacare, or Monsanto – use nice words.


(By the way, this WILL be the new rule for all comments on my blog and on my facebook page.  If you don’t use nice words, you’ll get one reminder, and then you go to timeout.  Got it?)

Vintage Headboard Makeover: Make an Upholstered Headboard

This is an old project, but a good one. For some reason, I didn’t blog about it at the time.  I also didn’t take good pictures of the process.  Sorry about that!

Anyway, I had been searching for a queen sized headboard for a LONG time, and one day at the Goodwill, I saw  one for $25.

headboard makeover
Then, I put it through a two phase makeover to make it a custom upholstered headboard!

Phase 1: I simply spray painted the medium colored, “fly-poop” speckled wood a much darker brown.

(I’d like to clarify – the headboard was not actually covered in fly poop.  But that’s how I lovingly refer to that 80s finish with all the little dark splatters.  Fly poop. Amiright?)


This was the project that made me realize my deep love for Rust Oleum Ultra Cover 2X Spray Paint spray paint.  It is still, two years later, my favorite spray paint, and really the only one I’ll buy.

And that tool on top of the can?  That's a spray can grip that attaches to the top of your spray paint and makes the job a LOT easier.  No more painted, cramped finger on the top of the can. :)

best spray paint

spray painted headboard

For a few months, I left the headboard propped against the wall behind our bed, even though it was woefully short.

painted headboardimg_6971

Then, one beautiful summer day in 2013, I took the headboard out to the shop and upholstered it.

upholstered headboard

Upholstered Headboard Tutorial

jig saw
spray adhesive
drill & screws
staple gun & staples
1 – 2 inch foamas big as the headboard
heavy quilt batting – enough to cover the headboard
1/4 inch plywood as big as the headboard
fabric for upholstery

How to Upholster a Headboard

First, I used my jig saw to cut out the center pieces from the backside.  (No pictures of that part, sorry!)

Then I traced the headboard (on the outside) onto a piece of 1/4 inch plywood.

I cut along the inside of my lines, again using the jig saw.  (By cutting along the inside, I made sure that the plywood wouldn’t hang over the edge of the frame when I was done.

Then, I cut out 2 inch foamin the shape of the INSIDE of the opening and used spray adhesive to attach it to the plywood, testing it with the headboard to make sure everything was spaced properly.

Then it was time for the staple gun .  I used some heavy quilt batting and stapled it around the edge of the foam (not over to the backside of the plywood, though.)

I followed that with my red fabric (which was actually a curtain from Target.)

**If you have weak hands or wrists and using a staple gun is difficult for you, you NEED this one!  It is so much easier to use!**

Finally, I screwed the plywood to the headboard frame from the backside.

(Need pictures of this process? CHECK OUT THIS TUTORIAL from Shanty 2 Chic.  Whitney did a great job with step by step pictures, unlike me, who apparently miserably failed in that department. Our projects were very similar, except mine had all those curves.)

navy and red bedroom

One more tip – notice how the headboard is much taller than it was before? I actually used bicycle hooks, screwed into the wall, to hang it.  I simply screwed in two hooks (the ones you would use to hang a bike in a garage) below that window and set the headboard in the hooks.  Maybe not the way the pros would do it, but it works for us!

upholstered headboardred headboard

Shared at: Talented Tuesday, Furniture Feature Friday, It's Overflowing, Savvy Southern Style

Check out more pictures of our master bedroom here.