116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Over the years, Tricia and Eric Van Roekel have built three houses and remodeled three others in the Iowa City area. Each house, each move, has met different needs at different stages in the life of their family.
Moving to a Coralville ranch a year-and-a-half ago pulled them from an acreage that was too isolating for Tricia's social spirit and put them in a perfect venue for entertaining while creating enticing spaces for their two adult children, who return home often with their friends.
'I like the location,” Tricia said. 'It's convenient to everything, and it's a friendly neighborhood.”
As a Realtor at Urban Acres with 25 years of experience, Tricia said her family's six moves have given her insight into the neighborhoods in and around Iowa City.
'It's fun because we've lived on the east side, the west side of Iowa City, in Coralville and North Liberty, and all are great areas to live,” Tricia said.
She's found it's helpful, as a Realtor, to say she's lived in or near a neighborhood her clients are considering.
'We've lived in a split-foyer, a two-story, a multilevel, a one-and-a-half story and a ranch,” she said. 'It's made me more of a well-rounded Realtor than if I'd stayed in one house.”
The Van Roekels' current 4,200-square feet, five-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath house brought them back to a neighborhood they'd lived in before and is close to work for both Tricia and Eric.
The home was 7 years old when they bought it and didn't require much more than paint and fresh light fixtures before they moved in. And one compromise.
In moving, they gave up a wooded acreage, with privacy and quiet - and a lot of yard work. Their new home didn't have those trees. To create a more intimate space in their backyard, they remodeled the patio and added a pergola, wood-burning fireplace and cozy seating areas.
For example, Eric and Tricia now have a small deck off the main-level dining room where they can sit together after work when the weather is nice.
Their new home also puts everything they need for day-to-day living on the same floor, an important consideration for the Van Roekels.
So, too, are the features that make it a great space for entertaining: an open-concept kitchen with two islands and a lower-level family room with wet bar and game room. This is the first time they've had space for a pool table, which has been fun and a draw for their children.
'I think you take a piece of property and make it your own, put your personality into it,” Tricia said. 'That's what we've tried to do here.”
That meant lightening the color palette in some areas of the home. Tricia prefers neutral colors and a variety of textures, which puts the focus on the people navigating the space and on the views overlooking grassy hills from their perch on the high point in their neighborhood.
'We've kept our style simple and neutral to fit in different homes,” Tricia said.
'A leather couch is a piece of furniture that can work in multiple rooms,” she added. 'Pieces like coffee tables, rugs and decor can be changed for a reasonable price versus buying a new couch. I am really not attached to any of my furniture - it's just stuff.
'My husband is pretty partial to the green couch” in the master bedroom, she said. 'It's a great napping couch.”
Moving so many times required Tricia to repeatedly assess their 'stuff” over the years.
It's liberating, she said, to understand a stage in life has passed and certain items aren't needed anymore.
That approach has allowed her to incorporate only the items that are meaningful to the couple and that work in current space.
'I tell clients it's a good process to go through stuff,” she said.
Tricia said she it's a joy to find a house that matches a family's needs - whether it's for her own family or for a client's family.
'It's fun to hear what people want in a home and what they want for their family,” she said.
For her family, having comfortable, spacious gathering areas was their top priority.
'It's fun,” she said, 'to have people over, and this is a great space to do it.”