It’s probably fair to say that Lisa and Bryce Loftus have put more sweat equity into their Marion home than most other homeowners on the block.
The couple — along with their three young children — moved into their home in May 2015 and in the last two and a half years have worked room by room to make the home their own.
Before that, the Loftus family lived in an older story-and-a-half home on the northeast side of Cedar Rapids, which they spent a lot of time remodeling. Upon finding their current home, which included all the features they were looking for in a more spacious family home, Lisa Loftus said she was excited to have less projects to take on. Except that wasn’t the case.
“I think I’ve painted every wall,” she said walking through her family’s home, which was built in 2005. “And I always have a nice long honey-do list. This is a creative outlet for me. I thought it was because we lived in a fixer upper before, but it turns out that I would do this no matter where we live.”
Most of the changes the couple — who both work full-time outside of the home — have made have been cosmetic to stay budget-conscious. “We definitely live on a budget, so it’s great that Bryce is super handy. I’m very lucky,” she said, noting that they are hands-on with all their home improvement projects.
“The only time Bryce and I have hired a contractor for anything was to lay carpet in our old house,” she said. “We’ve done all other work ourselves, including putting on a new roof and building the deck both in the old house and in our current house. When we say we do our own work, we really do mean it.”
And now having worked on so many projects — from updating bathrooms to building custom bunk beds — Loftus feels the couple has truly figured out how to work as a team. “Bryce and I have learned to work together,” she said. “We each own our part of the project. And sometimes one works while the other manages the kids. It’s more like divide and conquer.”
The couple — who are inspired by famed DIY duo Chip and Joanna Gaines and dressed up like the famous HGTV power couple this past Halloween — have truly completed a project in every room. “I do like to dig in and paint every surface,” she said, noting that she chooses neutral colors to highlight her simple, farmhouse decor. “And I’ve learned to trust my gut. I like to make spaces my own and make them look pretty, that’s the designer in me. But I also like space to be free of clutter or mess. It’s cathartic. I feel more at ease living in a simple space.”
Perhaps the biggest DIY project to date was a face-lift for the kitchen. “It’s the kitchen that nearly killed me,” Lisa Loftus joked knowing full well that it was worth all the work and effort to pull of the final design aesthetic. They first replaced the cream laminate countertops with much more durable and attractive quartz countertops and backsplash. She noted her husband recruited a few friends to help install the heavy countertops, which were delivered on pallets.
Then while Lisa Loftus had time off work during the week between Christmas and New Year’s, she decided to paint the cabinetry and add new drawer pulls. “We wanted to brighten it up in here,” she said. “And we wanted to make sure it would complement the flooring, which we knew we weren’t going to change.” The results is definitely a light, spacious and inviting kitchen that Lisa Loftus said is all the more enjoyable as the hub of the family home.
“It’s so open. I do love that I can be in the kitchen cooking while the kids are playing. This main level is where we spend all our time. We rarely leave this space. And it’s nice for entertaining because no one feels cramped.”
In fact, she said the family spends most of their time on the main level of the home, especially since their children are still young. There’s a spacious family room for playing and watching TV. There’s also an all-season sun room at the back of the house. “It’s a great football watching room,” Lisa Loftus said.
The family converted the dining room into a more functional office/playroom space.
“We needed a place for the kids to play and have toys on the main floor,” she said. “Of course, I want it to look like kids live here but not have their toys all over the house.”
Much of their furniture in their home has been thrifted and repurposed, with the exception of an antique settee that belonged to her grandmother and an old sewing machine that Lisa Loftus has moved with her for many years. Loftus created the coffee table — recovered and repurposed from a coffee table the neighbors were selling at a garage sale — in the family room. She created a custom light fixture for the master bathroom and in the master bedroom she made the headboard, a book shelf and the entertainment center.
“I’m all about repurposing,” she said. “I like to repurpose things because the kids destroy things and we are working within a budget, but I also like to see how I can make things fresh.”