CEDAR RAPIDS — People walking by often comment about Beth and Tim McDougall’s home on the southeast side of Cedar Rapids.
“I get so many people who walk by on nice days and say what a great house this is,” Beth McDougall said. “We know this house is special, one of a kind, and we are honored to be able to live here.”
The home was built in 1931 of light brick. The Tudor style is distinct in the Bever Woods neighborhood, which was recently designated as the site of an upcoming historic preservation survey through the City of Cedar Rapids.
The McDougalls moved into the house — only the fourth family to do so — in 2010 after relocating to Cedar Rapids.
“We’ve regularly lived in newer suburban houses,” said McDougall, noting they have lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., Houston and Milwaukee, among other cities. “We wanted to buy an older home with character to do something different when we moved here.”
The house is definitely not lacking for character. There’s a spacious entryway with original tile flooring. There’s an arched doorway with French doors leading upstairs, and several other sets of French doors throughout the first floor. There’s a laundry chute, picture rails in all the rooms of the first floor and coved ceilings. There are built-in scones in the living room. And McDougall had all the original, matching light fixtures rewired.
The large fireplace in the living room gets used often, McDougall said. From the outside, passers-by will notice the unique chimney design that is created — appearing as two stars converging — as the chimney from the basement and first floor fireplaces meet.
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Not surprising with an older home, the McDougalls have had to do their fair share of maintenance. The home has a boiler, which they have replaced, with the radiators actually built inside the walls. They also have put a new roof on a portion of the house when the old one started leaking.
“We do our best to preserve everything,” McDougall said, noting that she’s pretty handy. “I enjoy fixing it up. I’m the caretaker.”
Down in the basement, where one can see the unique steel girders the first floor sits on, is evidence of McDougall’s efforts to make the home as family-friendly as possible.
“It was dark wood paneling so I had that painted in a light color and I added the bar and kitchenette.”
The McDougalls share the nearly 4,000-square-foot home with their two sons and dog, Daisy. The spacious second floor — featuring four bedrooms and two bathrooms — and third floor — where there is a guest bedroom and bathroom and office space — allow the family to spread out when they need to.
“We are a family of introverts so I love that in this house we can all get away to a different room to have our quiet time.”
The family’s love of books is displayed in the library, painted a deep red, which offers a cozy spot to curl up and read. The home also offers great spaces to gather with family and friends.
“I love this room because I can close it off to the rest of the house,” said McDougall of her favorite room, the solarium at the back of the house. “We play video games in here but then we use the dining room for board games after dinner.”
McDougall has worked to honor the features and style of the home.
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“I try to decorate in a way that complements the Tudor style,” she said. “It’s not modern or traditional really. I am creating my own style that I call Iowa French urban.”
She purchased many of the furnishings at local stores like Smulekoff’s (when it was still open) and Phelan’s. The large area rugs throughout the first floor all came from Nassif Oriental Rugs.
The McDougalls also have done a lot to enhance the yard.
“When I first saw this house on Zillow and saw the entrance and the driveway with the columns I thought it was so cool,” she said. “We added a lot of lighting to the yard and a fence in the back so we could have a dog.”
The distinctive black cobblestone path and patio leading to the front door won a landscaping award.
“I had one of the former owners, who lived here for a long time, tell me she liked what we have done to the house and it was really cool to get her stamp of approval,” McDougall said. “I know I said it already, but this house is something special and we really appreciate it for what it is.”