“From Fad to Fabulous” is the name of the story that features the Flack home in Nevada. The home is part of the most recent edition of “Country Sampler Home Tours” magazine, on store shelves now.
The story and photos highlight the 1960’s home of Mary Lou and Gary Flack on F Avenue in Nevada and show how Mary Lou has blended antiques and historic elements from her own family’s past with her love of the Colonial Primitive Antique style.
Mary Lou admits she was touched that the magazine wanted to feature her home. A decorating friend of hers, whose home had been featured by the magazine at an earlier time, recommended Mary Lou’s home to them. Mary Lou was asked to send them some pictures from her home, and then they came out last May with a designer and photographer. “They spent a whole day staging things and doing pictures,” she said. A writer then called her and interviewed her for the story that went with it.
“After I read the article, I was very humbled,” she said. “It brought tears to my eyes as it mentioned my mom in it.” Mary Lou, a retired nurse who worked a number of years at Story Medical in Nevada, had moved her mother into her home to care for her during the last year of her mother’s life.
Since last May, she had been watching the magazine, of which she is a subscriber, to see when her story would be in it. Finally there it was, and one of the Flack’s neighbors called the Journal to tell us.
The Flacks are lifelong residents of Story County. Mary Lou’s family hails from the Collins and Maxwell areas, and then her family — the Moores — moved to Nevada, where she grew up and graduated in 1977 from Nevada High School. Gary is a 1973 graduate of Colo High School.
Love of heritage and family history play a huge part in Mary Lou’s decorating tastes. “I had a lot of family pieces, history books and such…many things from the Maxwell and Collins area. My ancestors, when they came to Iowa, bought a farm in 1852 in Collins Township and that farm was in our family until just a few years ago,” she said.
Many of the family heirlooms have been passed on to Mary Lou. “So I had all these things, which started my interest in antiques.” She also had, and still has, original documents of when the family bought the farm for $1.25 an acre. She’s proud of the fact that her great-great-grandfather was on the very first Story County Board of Supervisors.
All of the history in her family is as valuable to her as the historic touches she brings to life in her home. Her decorating meshes real history and family antiques with other items she’s collected. And she loves, she admits, changing up the way rooms are decorated and moving things around at times to create different visuals.
She also loves changing up her decor for the different seasons and holidays. Her absolute favorite time to decorate is fall, she said.
At Christmas, she actually does a lot of outdoor decorating, using fruit, like pineapples and lemons, in wreaths and other areas. “We do the whole outside … putting out a sled and decorating the twig furniture on the porch too.”
No matter what the season or holiday, things that are part of the Colonial Primitive Antique decorating style Mary Lou loves and that are always found in her home include feathers, iron lighting, crocks and wingback chairs. She’s painted a lot of black accents in her home, as well.
Since she first started decorating with a friend back in the 1980s, the online world has opened up many doors for Mary Lou. She now belongs to online decorating groups and has made friends with a lot of people who share her passion. It’s wonderful, she admits, that she can reach out to a friend in Tennessee, who’s decorating style is one that Mary Lou loves, and ask for guidance. “I communicated with her about a paint color and about her curtains with crewel fabric.” Crewel is quite expensive, Mary Lou said, so she mostly finds fabrics that remind her of it to use in her home.
She and Gary also travel far and wide to shop for unique decorating finds. Gary usually gets to stop and look at a few places with things he likes, too, like cars, she said. “It isn’t all just for me.”
She does have some favorite shops in Iowa. “I like Annie’s Treasures in Cascade. Also The Wood Cellar in Hampton. And Anamosa has a nice shop, Gatherings.” Locally, she said, she loves 6th Street Salvage in Nevada.
As for being featured in a magazine she has loved for years, Mary Lou was pleased with the way it was done. And as a long-time subscriber, there’s a bonus that she gets to extend her subscription for another year free of charge.
Mary Lou and Gary Flack have two children:
Ryan, a 2005 graduate of Nevada High School, who is married and has a 3-year-old with another child on the way in late June. Ryan lives in Marshalltown, where he coaches men’s basketball for Marshalltown Community College.
Morgan, a 2010 graduate of Nevada High School, lives in Nevada and works at Vision Bank in Ames.