BND Magazine

August 10, 2014

Personal touches make first house a home

The reason Matt Raetz bought his home was jumping on an upstairs bed late Monday afternoon.

His daughter Audrey, 7, is going into second grade at Wolf Branch School in Swansea.

"The school district was a big thing," said Kasey Royer, 24, Matt's fiancee. "We didn't want to take her out of there."

Kasey and Matt, who plan to marry on New Year's Eve 2015, moved in to the two-story 3,000-square-foot corner home the end of April. Built in 1986, it has three bedrooms, two full baths upstairs and a half-bath downstairs.

"We were trying to find a basement," said Kasey. "This doesn't have one. With it being a two-story, it definitely wasn't a deal breaker. We really weren't too picky. There was not too much we had to have."

They like the good-size yard, framed on three sides by pine trees. The family room has a fireplace, the sunroom is both cozy and filled with light, and the upstairs bedrooms are large.

"I would say the house has a lot of potential," said Matt, 26, an engineer with Hubbell Wiegmann in Freeburg.

At first glance, they noticed tit was clean and maintained, but looked dated. They replaced mauve family room carpeting with a neutral Berber-style before they moved in. They painted or replaced brass fixtures that weren't their style.

"Spray paint has been one of my best friends," said Kasey, who attends pharmacy school at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

"We painted every single room in the house except for dining room. We don't have any dining room furniture yet. It's just kind of a room right now ... "My parents came down. His parents came down. We knocked most of it out in one weekend. Our parents were a huge help."

Matt and Kasey also knocked down the wall between kitchen and family room.

"That was a must, to get rid of that wall," said Kasey, sitting at the kitchen table. "This wall only had a doorway. We put up boards and drywall and had a plasterer come in and finish."

They've added their style.

Kasey, a fan of Pinterest and HGTV, has all sorts of creative ideas that Matt helps execute.

"I made our bed frame," he said, of the California (narrower by 4 but loonger by 4)king-size frame with drawers beneath. "That was our first project. The frame wasn't bad. Finishing it was. Because I was using an expensive finish, I didn't want to mess it up. The two-by-fours were cheap."

In the foyer, wispy ferns nestle in antique wash tables.

"Kasey made that sign, too," said Matt, pointing out the white painted board above the plants. It reads "All because two people fell in love."

To the right of the foyer, Matt and Kasey turned a former sitting room into Audrey's playroom.

"I like it," said the energetic blonde, taking a break from praticing gymnastics in the yet-to-be decorated dining room.

They used chalk paint on one wall and added stripes to another.

A door-turned-coffee table was a Matt project for the sunroom.

"I was trying to think of something for a coffee table," said Kasey, who likes to go antiquing with her mom. "I brought this door home and said, 'Can you make a table?' I knew it would work. I think he sometimes dreads when I go antiquing."

Matt, a 2007 Belleville East grad, and Kasey, who grew up in Wisconsin, met while attending Mizzou. Before they bought their home, he lived in Swansea and she stayed with grandparents in Highland.

The couple like boating on Carlyle Lake. They're busy training a new puppy, Winchester, and Audrey's soccer season is just beginning.

Later in the fall, they go hunting.

"I hunt more than she does," said Matt, who goes after ducks, geese, turkey and squirrel.

"I hunt deer," said Kasey. "I've gotten four or five. When we met, one of first things we did is, he took me shooting. We shot clay pigeons. I said, 'Will you take me hunting? It's freezing. I make it well known I am cold. For a Christmas present, he got insulated insoles for my hunting boots."

More house projects are waiting to be done.

"Next summer, we're going to do landscaping," said Matt, "a lot of it.

"Eventually, after I graduate, we want to redo the first floor with hardwood, and tile." said Kasey.

Recently, they hung two wood boxes as shelves on the family room wall and filled them with things a pharmacist may have used.

"The prior owner was a pharmacist," said Kasey. "Matt found all this up in the attic. The bottles, the old mortar and pestle. It was meant to be."

How long did you look for a house? "We started last December," said Matt. "It took a while. We looked a lot online first. I was also between jobs and stuff. That made a difference. (Real estate agent Rachel Helbig Burkarth, of Coldwell Banker) would send us listings. We didn't want to go more than $180,000. We found the house about March. We looked at four others. We really only liked one of the other ones."

What did you think of the home-buying process? "It was exciting," said Matt.

Favorite room? "The sunroom is definitely the favorite," said Kasey.

Did you get any home-buying advice? "Both of our parents said, 'Go with your gut,'" said Matt. "We were very hesitant. This is our first house. They said, 'If you like it, just go for it.'"

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