When you find something you really love, the only thing you think about it is how to get it — right? This is certain for Kari Aalbers, homeowner of 446 31st Ave. S W.
She first looked at the home in 2002. Even though it was a fixer-upper, she loved the location, the style of home and especially the school district for her son. She was sold.
Aalbers has truly made this house her home, which is quite remarkable — the 1946 bungalow was legally condemned in the ’60s, then purchased and saved by two contractors who brought it back to life and sold it in the ’70s. Years later, this darling dwelling was fated for destruction again. But Aalbers bought it in 2002, and the rest is history.
Work on improving the house was soon underway. Aalbers has replaced the roof, siding and windows. She has installed two sump pumps, an egress window and created a bedroom, half bath and storage room in the basement. The electrical wiring and insulation are all new.
The real gem here is her passion — the quality of life she provides for her son and her grandchildren. The creek behind the house is a young boy’s childhood dream full of discoveries and explorations. The almost-one-acre lot is located in Altoona’s quiet, older part of town and perfect for four wheelers and dirt bikes.
Closer to the house is her zone. An above-ground pool is surrounded by a deck and an 8’x10’ poly-carbon canopy turned three-season porch. Girls’ night out at Aalbers’ includes hand-rubbed steaks that marinate for a few days and red wine by the pool.
The front of her yard captures even more of Aalbers’ love of life. Her self-sustaining prairie plants landscaping is ideal for the style of home it sits in front of. She loves pink and white diamond hydrangeas, cone flowers and even lythrum, a purple flower banned in the state of Iowa because it’s considered a noxious weed.
“It blooms best July through September,” she states. “It’s beautiful — you just can’t buy it anymore.”
Her goal of a prairie plant landscape is to provide food, nectar and nesting for Iowa’s native birds and butterflies. Not to mention, it doesn’t require extra watering and actually produces less weeds.
“It really is like living in the country right in town,” Aalbers says. “We absolutely love it here.”