Anita and David Muertz like to keep things simple. Twelve years ago they moved south from a busy corner lot in Waterloo to Anita’s hometown of historic Maeystown (population 233) for a quieter lifestyle. After buying the last four lots in the scenic village, they built their new home in traditional saltbox style with two stories in front and one behind and a roof with a long rear slope. Anita drew up plans for the 1,900-square-foot home, with three bedrooms and two baths, to house the Shaker-style furniture they had grown to love.
Shakers were a sect that originated in England in the mid-1700s; its members embraced celibacy and an ascetic communal life. Their furniture is prized for its clean lines. “The Shakers did not want any ornamentation; everything had a function. I just like the simplicity of it,” Anita explains.
David hand-built many of their Shaker furnishings, from the wood mirrors to the hanging kitchen cupboard and the sleek dining set. He often uses cherry wood. “I love cherry because as it ages it gets redder” through exposure to light. He hand-rubs an oil-based finish or uses milk-based paint on the pieces he makes. Wood peg rails run high along the plain white walls; David says the Shakers hung chairs from the pegs to make it easier to clean the floors. His wood candle sconces, as well as straw brooms, hats, baskets, pictures and kitchen items, hang from some of the 300 matching pegs he painted and inserted into the rails.
Inspired by the restored Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky and by their research, Anita has decorated their home appropriately with quilts, crocks and locally made hand-loomed rugs, as well as family pieces including a pie safe and chairs from her grandparents. “We just collect what we like, and we do buy Shaker pieces. We have old things, and we use them,” Anita says.
DINING ROOM: David’s favorite room features the cherry table and bench he built and chairs he assembled from a kit. Anita displays them on a hand-loomed blue rug laid on the cherry floor. David’s slim soldier blue chimney cupboard stores serving pieces.
KITCHEN: Lower cabinets are painted in traditional barn red, and several appliances are covered in matching wood. David built the hanging cupboard. A built-in pantry holds staples, and Anita leaves the window uncovered to enjoy the view.