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Thrifty Cedar Rapids couple loves old home, quiet neighborhood

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Emily Weber and Curtis Stochl aren’t your typical twenty-somethings looking to move into a trendy condo.

In fact, the Coe College graduates skipped the condo phase altogether and bought a quaint Dutch Colonial home on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids last spring.

“When we were looking it was very important that we were in a place that had other things in walking distance to the home,” said Weber, noting that her job at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library allows her to walk or bike to work regularly. “Here, we are within walking distance of so much.”

“We are just two blocks from the Sokol entrance to the trail,” added Stochl, who also rides to work at a local IT company and is gearing up for RAGBRAI.

The couple feels like the neighborhood is a hidden gem and since moving in more than a year and a half ago, they are certainly making their contributions to the neighborhood as a whole.

The neighborhood is full of kids thanks to the park, splash pad and Four Oaks school across the street from the Weber-Stochl home. So just last week, the couple installed their own Little Free Library to help share their love of reading with neighbors and those passing by.

“It’s a unique corner lot in that it’s pretty high traffic but it’s much quieter than C Street just a block over,” said Stochl.

“Our house is among the oldest in this neighborhood and it’s in such good shape,” added Weber, noting that they sought out old construction in the home search.

The home was built in 1920, and Weber said they are both very interested in the home’s history.

“This house sits on land which was part of the Buresh lots which were incorporated into Cedar Rapids right before the 1920s,” she explained. “We’ve read through the historical abstract.”

Originally built by a reverend, who lived in it for a short time, the home was long occupied by a woman and her three sons. Weber said they were the only other owners before they bought the house in March 2015.

“You can just tell this was a beloved and cherished family home,” she said.

While the home did flood in 2008 — up to about 1 foot on the main level they are told — it was mucked and restored by the previous owners. Once Weber and Stochl moved in, they set to work restoring the home as well.

“We didn’t want to gut this and make it all new,” Stochl said. “We want to restore it and keep the character.”

He said they first worked on the upstairs bathroom as it didn’t have a shower.

The whole first floor was carpeted so Weber and Stochl set to work tearing that out as soon as they moved in.

“We knew there were hardwood floors underneath and it was a project we could do ourselves that would really make it feel like ours,” Weber said.

The stairs — leading to the second floor and the home’s three bedrooms — also have been restored and the two tone wood work makes for a stunning architectural detail.

The couple also has had work done in the kitchen, including new countertops, appliances and sink. The brick tile floor remains an especially unique feature. It’s Stochl’s favorite room in the house thanks to his love of cooking.

The couple’s decor complements the age of the home nicely.

“Nearly everything in our home is vintage or thrifted,” said Weber, noting that most of their furniture, art work and rugs are from thrift stores like Goodwill and the Salvation Army and vintage shops.

The dining table, for instance, belonged to Stochl’s grandmother. The roll-top desk in the corner of the dining room belonged to Weber’s grandfather. And Weber’s dresser upstairs in the master bedroom was her grandmother’s. The restored bar cart in the dining room is one of Weber’s DIY successes.

“It was $3 at Goodwill. I really like mixing up cocktails and wanted a vintage inspired bar cart like my grandparents had,” she said.

All the doors in the home, with their glass doorknobs, are original.

“We even have all the skeleton keys for them,” said Stochl, noting it’s another characteristic they love about the home.

The library, a sunny room on the home’s north side, is Weber’s favorite spot.

“This is where I drink my coffee in the morning and hang out,” she said.

The room is home to Weber’s ever-growing book collection, Stochl’s cookbook collection and some houseplants that enjoy all the sunshine. You’ll also find the couple’s two ultra-friendly cats — Brogan and Dolph — scampering about.

While the couple really focused on projects on the home’s first floor during their first year — they have more plans for the house — the last few months have been focused on the outdoors. They’ve torn out old overgrown shrubs, really gotten their gardens going and have installed a picket fence.

“We really like the exterior elements of this property,” Weber said.

The large lot the home sits on was an added bonus, Weber said. The backyard has the perfect mix of refreshing shade — from two large maple trees — and bright sunshine to foster Weber’s love of flower gardening and Stochl’s love of vegetable gardening. They said their outdoor patio is a favorite spot to spend time with friends and their rambunctious dog, Gus.

“We entertain a lot, and it’s fun to show people all that we’ve done. It’s nice to know we don’t have to move again,” Stochl said, noting that they are in this home for the long-haul. “And more than having our friends excited about this, it’s been great to see our neighbors excited to see the improvements we are making.”

The home actually sat empty for three years before the couple bought it.

“We are bringing life back in,” Emily said.

Beyond restoring the home together, they have started creating many family memories in the home.

“We actually just got engaged right here in this house,” Emily said with a smile.

And with that, one can see that this old house will continue to be a beloved and cherished family home for many years to come.

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