Sondra Bertsch’s west-side Des Moines house looks like many other time-period houses from the 1920s, but one look inside shows some unexpected surprises.
Bertsch moved into her 1926 south-of-Grand-Avenue house at 4200 Foster Drive in 1996. She grew up in Des Moines but had lived in the country and raised horses for several years. A broken leg encouraged her to reconsider city life.
She looked at a loft space downtown and liked some of the architectural features but thought it was too small for the price. When she walked into the house on Foster Drive, which has an almost Cape Cod look to it, she immediately liked the flow and openness of the space.
“It felt like I had come home,” she says, adding that the space was very modern and eclectic, which fit her style.
Plus, there were some bonus architectural features. The second story looks like a loft with exposed beams and mechanical pipes, more curved walls and walls that don’t extend to the ceiling.
“This was one of the things that drew me in,” Bertsch says. “It’s different and off beat.”
She says it reminded her of the downtown loft space that she toured.
Bertsch has done some remodeling to the home since she purchased it 16 years ago. She expanded a small television room to make a more cozy family room and added a home office that left some of the exterior brick from the house exposed within the new space. She was once told by a former owner that the room was where the front door of the house had once been. A landscaping project uncovered steps in the yard to verify this theory.
She’s added a deck to the back of the property and done extensive landscaping. The hardwood floors have been refinished, she remodeled the kitchen, and she’s currently in the middle of a basement remodel.
Bertsch also did lots of painting. She says the entire house was painted gray from the walls to the kitchen cabinets to the finished basement carpeting.
“Slowly over the years, I’ve made my mark on it,” she says.