Home & Garden

DIY projects abound in midcentury remodel with industrial twist

Cedar Rapids homeowners relish in architectural details

Kelly Bult has long been interested in architecture.

“As a child, I would draw floor plans of what I thought the inside of houses looked like,” she said.

So when she and her husband, Bronson, first set foot in their southeast Cedar Rapids home nine years ago, she was hooked.

“This home was very efficiently designed, and I find it fascinating."

- Kelly Bult

Homeowner

“The first thing we saw when we walked in was the wonderful architecture of this fireplace,” said Bult. “I’m a geometric person, and I think that is why I like the midcentury modern period and Frank Lloyd Wright style.”

She’s also fascinated by history and has wondered about the influence Frank Lloyd Wright may have had on the design of her home. “I also love house history and the history of people,” she said, noting she was delighted to discover copies of the blueprints for the home. “I’ve done some research in the last couple of years. I like trying to piece it all together, and I hope to uncover more history about the house.”

So far in her digging, Bult has discovered the home was built in 1950 by architect Roger Darricarrere, who lived in Cedar Rapids for just nine months before relocating to California. Darricarrere was a famous stained-glass artist and brought his particular style to the United States after World War II. The distinctive stained-glass windows built into the kitchen cabinetry are a great legacy of Darricarrere in the home today, Bult said.

Further proof the home was uniquely designed can be found in the built ins tucked into nooks and crannies throughout the home.

“This home was very efficiently designed, and I find it fascinating,” said Bult.

A cabinet that happens to be the perfect size for a folding table and chairs is just inside the front door. A small laundry chute is tucked in the hall linen closet, along with a pullout counter for folding. And the master bedroom has large roll out built-in shelving.

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The Bults and their two children — along with a cat, a bearded dragon and a frog — have lived in the home since 2009, and in less than a decade they have remodeled several spaces.

“I think we’ve done all the rooms twice, actually,” Bult said, noting that she’s lucky to have a handy and talented husband.

Perhaps their most cherished piece of furniture is the newly created dining table.

“The boards are from my grandparents’ barn, and Bronson designed and built it,” said Bult.

Evidence of her husband’s handiwork is in every room — he installed all new flooring throughout the home.

They have been creative in using spaces in the home, including creating a separate laundry room area and an entertainment zone in the basement. The couple have also used traditional building materials in non-traditional ways, such as using engineered laminate flooring on the walls in the basement.

“I love midcentury modern design, but I’ve recently been adding a farmhouse, industrial twist to some aspects of the home,” Bult said. “I changed my mind on my design tastes.”

The kitchen is a perfect example, as it features the original cabinetry and wood panel walls but has the new farmhouse table and a Mason jar light fixture working together to create the home’s current aesthetic.

But said they are now in the process of painting all the walls in the home a neutral grayish color.

“I was getting tired of the greens and blues and yellows we painted it when we first moved in,” she said, noting she really embraced midcentury modern design at the time.

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The porch on the back of the home, another key family hang out zone, was added in a remodel after the home was built. The Bults have made it a space for family time and a drop zone as they come in and out of the house, by converting it from a screened-in porch to an all-seasons room.

“I like this room because there are multiple purposes for it depending on whatever is going on that season,” Bult said.

They installed a fireplace, picked out comfy couches and redid the flooring to create a cozy spot to bring the outdoors in with the large windows.

“I love sitting out here and watching the wildlife. I love all the big surrounding trees,” she said.

With three main floor bedrooms and just one bathroom, Bult said a bathroom remodel was particularly important to make the space as functional as possible.

“This is actually the second remodel in here, and it has made a huge difference for our family,” said Bult.

The whole space, including floors, walls, tub and shower, is lined in tile, and the custom wood countertop and large farmhouse sinks add function.

Not surprisingly, Bult has other home renovation ideas up her sleeve.

Steps lead to an unfinished attic space that she hopes they can transform — someday.

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