CEDAR RAPIDS — The rainbow pattern covering an old Cape Cod duplex along Eighth Avenue SW is virtually impossible to miss.
Eric Gutschmidt’s team repainted two exterior, street-facing walls in the prism of colors last summer and gutted and updated the inside. The property had become known as a drug house and a drag on the neighborhood, but now is a symbol of welcome, inclusion and boldness, the owner of Gutschmidt Properties said.
“This house was straight out a Rob Zombie film,” said Gutschmidt, who purchased the property in June. “This is representative of a closed chapter of Cedar Rapids history being replaced with a new chapter representing Cedar Rapids’ future.”
From the ground up, the siding on the circa-1900 structure is in streaks of purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, red, brown and black.
Gutschmidt had tried dubbing it the “Clark House” for the previous owner, but he acknowledges whatever he tries to call it, “Rainbow House” will be the de facto name.
The color pattern is intended as a symbol of diversity and inclusion, and an expression of the company’s values. The rainbow has been a banner for LGBTQ pride and the black and brown is added inclusion of people of color.
“Mostly, we wanted to be clear with where we stand as a company,” Gutschmidt said.
Gutschmidt, who has been remodeling homes since 2009, and his team recently finished renovating one unit of the duplex with a full bathroom, kitchen, living room, and bedrooms. The other half still is under construction and the rest of the outside and the garage still must be painted in rainbow.
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The units are intended to be fully furnished, temporary rentals of a few days up to 30, 60 or 90 days. The property is also intended to be offered as free event space, or backdrops for photo shoots, for groups advocating for causes of diversity and inclusion, he said. People can get more information by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The look also is the company’s attempt to test the boundaries of boldness in a way they couldn’t do with other properties, many of which are more traditional longer-term rentals.
“We went bold on the outside and that gave room to be bold on the inside,” said Sandy Locke, operations manager for the company.
She led the selection of finishes and furnishings. The kitchen features a chrome backsplash and butcher block island, and chandeliers hang in every room. They tapped into local purveyors including Found+Formed, LK Design and Roots in Bloom for materials and accents.
Gutschmidt seeks rundown properties that can be rehabbed with hard work and investment that elevate rather than detract from a neighborhood. That’s what drew him to the Eighth Avenue duplex, he said. He paid $30,000 for the house and went “way over budget” on the remodel, but the good news is it is up to code and will be in good shape for decades, he said.
“We want to do things different and embrace what is different,” Gutschmidt said.
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