Matt Reetz is hoping to get the unusual jobs. He is the kind of builder who hopes people call him when they cannot quite figure out how to get that built-in, bookshelf or cabinet to work right. He redesigns spaces to make them more efficient and helps homeowners finish their house by building the furniture they need.
He likes those challenges, and after 15 years of working as a homebuilder, he has decided to streamline his business and change its name to highlight the custom home work he delivers.
Reetz is the owner and operator of Materia Custom, formerly Materia Design Group. He explains how his business has evolved and what homeowners wanting custom work should consider.
Q. Why the name change?
Never miss a local story.
A. The new name speaks more to what we actually do. We do custom construction.
When I started my business, I wanted to design the homes and build them. Over the course of time, I started to see more calls from interior designers and architects where the design work was already completed. I am drawn to that. I also found I liked the hands-on construction more than sitting in an office.
One of the things I enjoy about working with interior designers and architects is that there is a vision, and it is highly thought-through. The design is thought-through. I enjoy working with other creative people and like the challenge of figuring out how to construct something that has never been done before, something new or a design that is highly refined.
Q. How did you get started?
A. I am from Omaha originally but went to KU to study architecture.
I designed a home for a couple here in Bonner Springs while I was working as an architectural intern in New Mexico. I came back to town, and we were interviewing contractors, and we just couldn’t seem to find the right contractor. I think they were nervous of design or style and were just throwing huge numbers on it.
I decided to move back to Kansas City and build the house myself. That’s kind of where it all started.
Q. Why do you think the other contractors were saying the custom build would cost so much?
A. Some people who are not familiar with building custom homes or more modern homes think it takes a lot more time and maybe more materials. Just because it looks different doesn’t mean the building technique has to be different.
Most of the time, from a modern home standpoint, it can be the opposite. There are usually fewer walls and fewer materials. The details take more time because of the craftsmanship needed. You can’t hide things because there is not trim all over.
Q. What should people consider if they want a custom home or a custom feature in their home?
A. Have a general idea of what you’re looking for. Photographs are fantastic. They can be a jumping-off point. It’s great to have a blank slate, but the process of creating a custom piece can be more expeditious with strong ideas.
Usually on the furniture side, people are looking to finish out something in their house, like a library. Some of the ideas are about making the house more practical. They might have a pantry that doesn’t function well in the way the builder constructed it. We reorganize how it functions. They may need a vanity to be a size they cannot find anywhere else.
Q. What kind of custom built-ins are popular?
A. We do all kinds of pantries. We have done nurseries, built-in dressers and changing stations. I built one for my own house that is modular so that as my daughter grows, I can take the piece out that was the changing table and change it into a dresser.
I think built-ins are coming back into style. People see an advantage to having a fixed piece in the house. Some people are realizing the benefits of it from an organizational standpoint. I’m working on a mudroom right now for a family with three children. There is a place to put everything and keep it organized.
Q. What kind of custom work are you hoping customers bring your way?
A. In a perfect world, we would be someone you could call when you can’t figure out exactly the right piece. We don’t focus on one genre or one era or one style. We do just the unique pieces. We have built waterfall staircases.
If a contractor is having a difficult time finding someone doing that unique feature, I would hope they could call us. That is the kind of work we appreciate and court.