September 27, 2023

UPCYCLE REVIVAL: Farmhouse Creation lives by its ‘breathes new life into old things’ motto

After renovating the town square retail space, owners unveil their work – and products – to customers

Two women passed by the storefront of the newly reopened Farmhouse Creation last week. They glanced through the windows for a few seconds. Moments later they returned. Something had caught their attention.

Perhaps they realized there was a new retailer on the Newton town square. Or maybe they remembered the space that the home decor shop was now occupying looked vastly different from before. Regardless, they found their way inside.

From the moment customers opened the doors, owner Mike Sell was there to greet his guests. He could tell if they had been around when Farmhouse Creation initially opened to the public for a short while this past winter.

Customers all said the same thing when they saw the renovated shop: “Wow!” or “Awesome!” or “I’m impressed!” Sell never tired of hearing it, either, and he’d tell them about all the work that went into renovating the place, too.

“It was pretty extensive,” Sell said. “From the ‘beautiful’ green carpet that we had to get rid of, to the removal of the drop ceiling to expose the awesome tin ceiling (and) then the painting. And then putting it all back together.”

Much like the upcycled home decor items on sale at Farmhouse Creation, Sell breathed new life into the building — formerly Computer Pro and the county GOP headquarters — and accentuated the older character buried underneath.

Glistening crystal chandeliers now hang from the ceiling. Customers’ footsteps echo on the hardwood floors. A pair of red doors Sell rehabilitated attract customers to the far end of the space.

For a store whose entire business model relies on upcycling older materials, it was only fitting for Farmhouse Creation to upcycle itself, too.

“I remember telling people that would stop at the door (during the renovation) and they would say, ‘Was this that store that upcycled furniture?’ I said, ‘Yes, and right now we’re upcycling the building,” Sell recalled.

Farmhouse Creation, which originated from craft shows, also features home decor pieces, candles and food made by local vendors. Much of the store’s furniture is upcycled by Sell.

It was difficult for Sell and his wife, Cindy Rogers-Sell, to be open for a short time only to have to close shop to finish renovations. The two did not originally intend to temporarily open doors after gaining possession of the building.

“I utilized that time to let people see what we were able to,” Sell said. “A lot of people were like, ‘What do you mean you’re closing? Are you leaving?’ It was a little difficult but I also knew that this is what I wanted to do.”

It was worth it if only to see customers’ reactions on opening day of what could be Sell’s biggest — or, at least, his favorite — upcycling job he’s ever done.

“Our logo says: ‘We breathe new life into old things.’ And I really think that’s what we did to the building,” Sell said. “The bones were there. They just needed to be exposed and brought back to life and have our little twist on it.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.