After being a renter for many years, Stephanie Catlett decided to put down some roots in a home of her own in Iowa City. While the house hunt was initially challenging, she managed to find a quaint home with distinctive features that was just the right fit for her lifestyle.
“I felt like I was gifted this house by the universe in some way. I fully expected to be living somewhere else, but this is a special house and it happened for a reason,” she said. “I bought it the day it went on the market. My fabulous Realtor called and said you have to see this house. I walked in and I couldn’t believe it. This house isn’t huge, but it’s perfect for me.”
The home is located on a quiet street on the east side of town.
“This neighborhood is a mix of renters and long-term owners so it’s a nice balance,” Catlett said. “There’s a good vibe and everyone is so friendly. The east side is amazing.”
As she works for the University of Iowa, Catlett said she especially loves that the location allows her to bike or take the bus to work or to spend time in downtown.
The original home that stood on the lot was a planned fixer-upper renovation for the builder, Jason Rekers of Timberhawk Construction, but once he started on the project he realized he needed to tear the house down and start from scratch.
“It’s a brand-new house, but this home really blends with the neighborhood. It looks like it just fits and I’m so grateful for that,” she said noting that Rekers made a conscious decision to go that route.
While the home is new construction, the eve over the front door was salvaged from the original home and the chipping paint gives some character to the home’s exterior, Catlett said.
“It’s nice to have some touches of what is original,” she said.
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There also are unique woods featured throughout the home — both inside and out — and Catlett appreciates that the builder used salvaged wood for architectural interest, especially on the fireplace mantel. The wood beams on the exterior give a rustic, mountain charm to the home. The luxury vinyl plank floors through the main level are not only a gorgeous design element, but also are very durable.
“And it feels like wood when you walk across it,” Catlett said.
The kitchen and living room area is Catlett’s favorite space in her home.
“I love the openness of this space. All the comfy furniture is in here and the light is just so beautiful,” she said. “And when I have people over, everyone gathers in the kitchen and it’s nice because you can overflow into this space”
As for her style, Catlett noted that she likes modern things but also wants to be cozy.
“I’ve always loved decorating. I watch a lot of HGTV. I’d said I’m a graduate of the Property Brothers school of design,” she said joking. “It’s just been so fun putting this space together. I rented for so many years and had so many mismatched things. So it was really fun pulling this house together. I thrifted a lot of stuff. Artifacts here in Iowa City is my go-to spot.”
The art throughout the home is a mix of pieces she has collected over time from local artists, everything from custom art of her cats, to railroad spikes with wings, and thought provoking photography.
Perhaps one of Catlett’s favorite features is the striking patterned blue and gold tile she had installed in the kitchen, a decorative feature she added in the last few months. A friend installed the Spanish style tiles in a way that the pattern would not repeat, making for an interesting conversation piece in the open kitchen.
“I feel like it is against the white kitchen trend right now,” she said. “But I love it. It adds a warmth to the space.”
Having lived in the home for a year now, Catlett feels like she’s settled in. While it’s just her and her cats — Grover, Freddie and Sheridan — she said she especially enjoys entertaining, and it seems her friends like to come hang out as well.
“All my friends joke about wanting to vacation in my house, so I must be doing something right,” she said.
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With just two bedrooms, the home was just the right fit for Catlett. She uses the main floor bedroom as a guest suite and office, with French decor as a nod to a recent trip to Paris. A bathroom just off the bedroom is perfect access for any guests. It has an especially interesting tile pattern in the bathroom, just one of the home’s little details Catlett appreciates.
The backyard is long and narrow but another great gathering space for visitors, especially around the fire pit that Catlett and her dad installed.
“I bought a badminton set so I’m ready for a shindig back there this fall,” she said.
With her dad’s help, she also stained the deck and fence.
“The yard has really been a project,” she said. “I am trying to do some more landscaping. The zinnias I planted along one side of the house are doing really well. I haven’t been a homeowner for long so right now I’m enjoying working in my yard. And the cats and I really like to sit on the deck and watch the birds.”