Visitors to the Springfield home of Dr. Mike and Nadine Neumeister can tell they are in for a treat even before they step into the well-built brick house at 1049 Williams Blvd. in Springfield.
The front yard is professionally and beautifully landscaped, and a graceful arch makes the door more welcoming.
Once inside, the entryway reveals an attractive foyer flanked by a large and lovely front room on one side and a formal dining room, done in deep red, on the other. A wood staircase completes the first impression.
RE/MAX Realtor Susan Madison is on the mark when she describes the home as offering "gracious living at its best." Madison is known for listing historic homes in the Washington Park and Leland Grove areas as well as Lake Springfield. She knows the park area well as she used to live there, "actually right down the street from the Neumeister home."
"This home is inside Washington Park proper, so you can see the boulevard and the joggers and people walking out there," Madison says, adding it is in a "wonderful location."
The Neumeisters' home is large enough to accommodate a big family, with just over 5,500 square feet of finished space on four levels; the basement has added storage. Nadine says she is fine having the large family room that she and Mike finished downstairs. "I know the new homes have family rooms on the main floor right by the kitchen, but honestly, I like having the kitchen to myself," she says.
And what a kitchen it is. Nadine's cooking area features Mouser cherry cabinets, built-in appliances, granite countertops, a breakfast bar, two sets of French doors leading to the patio and a sunny eating area. "I thought this house felt like a Craftsman, that's why I went with Craftsman style cabinetry here and in the baths," Nadine says.
Rough around the edges
Although the home is lovely now - it has the charm of a stately older home combined with a well thought out modern kitchen, spacious bathrooms and a large laundry room not typical in older homes - it wasn't always so attractive. The house was built in 1919, and Nadine says it was in rough shape when the couple purchased it nearly 14 years ago. "However, I saw the potential in this house, and we like the area," she says.
Because the Neumeisters had so much updating and remodeling to accomplish, they bought the home and waited about six months to move in.
"We took out all the ceilings and installed new wiring, plumbing and heating and, of course, we put in a new kitchen and new baths," Nadine says. "We bought the house in September of 1997 and moved here in March of 1998. Then we did a lot of the little projects ourselves."
Although Nadine says she doesn't have a professional background in architecture, she made some major decisions when it came time to remodel the home. The couple had - among other things - bathrooms moved, removed and added; doorways and portions of walls removed; a bedroom converted to a walk-in closet; crown molding removed and refinished; and all but every ceiling in the home replaced. Nadine has a scrapbook of photos of the home in its original state and under construction so people can see what has been done to the place.
Room to spare
Nadine says she prefers older homes and she and her husband like antiques - which is obvious by the number of well-placed pieces throughout the home. When it comes to decorating, Nadine has left a lot to the experts. "I like to redo, but I don't like to decorate," she says, adding that she's worked with many Springfield decorators over the past 13 years.
Madison says people who love historic houses will appreciate the "massive amounts of oak" used in the home, as well as the charm of the original doors with glass doorknobs, hardwood floors and the large, serviceable rooms.
The home has two large sunrooms - one directly above the other. One is off the living room at street level and the other is off the second-floor master bedroom.
The master bedroom also features a romantic old fireplace, a modern bath with an extra-large tub and shower and an extensively shelved walk-in closet.
Several other rooms complete the second level: a bedroom done in muted neutrals and greens; a third bedroom and study that's done in bright pinks and blues; and another modern and roomy bath.
High above the street, the home's third story hides a retreat in yet another suite perfect for guests or a discriminating teenager. The beamed-ceiling room is done in soothing, light colors and features a private bath, creative shelving and a cozy window seat perfect for reading or looking out at the attractive neighborhood.
The home's lowest level also has been updated. It features roomy entertainment space with a computer area, another room that could be used for an office, exercise room or bedroom, a large laundry area with a sink and a newer bathroom.
Expertise, finishing touches
When it came to remodeling the top story and lowest level of the home, the Neumeisters turned to a local expert known for his building and remodeling expertise, especially on historic homes in and around Leland Grove, and in other upscale areas.
"We had Michael von Behren's company build the third-floor room and had him put in the laundry room and bath in the basement," she says. "I really like what they did."
One thing is for sure: the Neumeisters' home offers plenty of room for entertaining, inside and out. Although the front of the home has curb appeal galore, the professional landscaping in the home's backyard is particularly gorgeous and includes a large deck, a pond and waterfall. And now that spring is in full swing, the bushes and plants are coming into their own.
"Every stitch of landscaping was removed, and we had the back of the house changed and added the deck," Nadine says, adding that Sexton's Landscape Concepts put in the pond and the back brick fencing and most of the plantings.
"It is nice to listen to the water running back here - you really get used to hearing it. Our neighbors say they like hearing it, too."
Nadine says she hates to leave behind a home where she and her husband have been raising their three daughters, but the lure of living at Lake Springfield is strong.
"We had a little house at the lake that we've recently sold. We kept the boat there and we stayed there sometimes, but we enjoy the lake, so we're moving there full-time," she says.
"Honestly, I like this house so much, if I could have moved it to the lake, that's what I would have done," Nadine says. "The new house is really different from this one, and we have some work to do on it, too, but we'll make it our own."
Story published Friday, May 6, 2011 ( Volume 6, Number 3 )