Such a Living Dahl!

Posted by Jessica Dilger on Jul 26, 2021 6:00:00 AM

Taking the Dahl Farmhouse from uninhabited to inviting


Most brides-to-be wouldn’t consider a run-down old farmhouse the best wedding gift, but Tori was ecstatic that it was. And sweat she did, especially while clearing debris from a century-old house that had been abandoned for 40 years.

The Dahlhouse front entry is inviting now.

“Our 100 year-old home sat abandoned for over 40 years. It sat in waist high grass and snarled trees, beyond the road's view—a home whose place in history had come and gone,” Tori tells us. 


While planning their wedding 23 years ago, the couple began restoring what is now The Dahl Farmhouse. 

“All because I didn't want to sweat, I met the man of my dreams and live in the home of my dreams.”

—Tori Dahl

“Lots of sweat, love, and tears have gone into restoring our home.”

The current snapshot
Jonathon and Tori Dahl took a dilapidated disaster and made it a home. Over the years, they became parents to two growing now-teenage boys. Jonathon builds custom furniture and cabinetry (Jonathon Dahl Woodworks,—handy skills to have when restoring a house.

The Dahl family

Tori is an inspiring, self-taught, constantly-learning DIY phenomenon, from restoring old pieces, setting a perfect holiday table, and styling their beautiful home with every season. 


She is also one of the happiest, giving souls you'll ever meet.


Who wants to sweat?

Tori’s story is just as heartwarming (and funny) as the woman herself. 


“Jon and I met in college at Texas State University, where PE was a required course,” Tori recalls. “I enrolled in bowling because I didn't want to sweat.”

After several months of clearing, the farmhouse and its broken windows was revealedYou had to have vision to attempt a project like this

But perhaps there was perspiration after all. “On the first day of class, Jon walked in and my heart stopped,” Tori says. It would be two months until he worked up the courage to ask her out, but they have been together ever since.  


They both graduated and moved to Houston. He proposed, and they started looking for homes.


Tori’s Instagram is full of show-stopping photos, with each room beautifully restored and decorated. You’d never know that their farm was once a forgotten place: abandoned, derelict, filthy, and forgotten—a friend discovered the house on the back three acres when buying the property outside of Cypress, Texas.

The landowner didn't even know there was a house on the back of the property

The farmhouse was discovered behind overgrown vegetation


From debris debacle to surprising stories

It took months to clear the house of 40 years’ worth of debris—just junk. But then a surprise happened, marking the best part of renovation.


“On the last day of cleaning out the attic, we sat down on the top of the attic steps. As I sat back, my hand touched something under the top stair.  I pulled out a stack of 100 year old letters, cards, and glass negatives left behind from the original owners!”

The Dahl kitchen today--clean and functional

The kitchen in the Dahl farmhouse is a far cry from what they found.  Tori managed to keep the farmhouse sink


Tori confides, “As we read through them, I cried.  I knew at that moment they were looking down from heaven and happy that we were bringing their home back to life.” 


What was the worst part of renovation? Open-air living: “We moved into our home only 9 months into the renovation. We found stacks and stacks of original 100 year old wavy glass panes in the dairy barn.”

Tori decorates seasonally

The decor is comfortable, expressive cutting-edge farmhouse chic


Tori says they had plastic on most of the windows while going room to room replacing the missing panes of glass.  “Yes, living with plastic windows in the dead of winter with no HVAC was most definitely the worst part.”  


Bringing home, home

Celebrating the home's history is one of the favorite parts of this story. Several photos and letters that were found during the restoration are lovingly displayed around their home today. 

The original farmhouse owners

The original owners of the Dahl farmhouse—now proudly displayed in Tori's home


Not only is the Dahl’s story sweet, but it’s inspiring. 

An inviting front walkway greets guests today

The inviting entry of the Dahl farmhouse today.

Follow Tori on Instagram @thedahlfarmhouse or visit her website to see fun DIYs, check out her Etsy shop, and more of her home transformation. 


About the author

Jessica Dilger writes from “Shoo Fly Ranch,” a homesteaded acreage in southwest Washington state where she lives with her family, 30 or so chickens, 14 cows, two calves, and two bottle-fed calves named Ben and Jerry.





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