The interior of the DeQuincy home of Darren and Heather Clifton Royer is filled with reminders of what’s important to them: God, family, community and country. The outside living area is a marvelous summer concoction, cool, comforting, resourceful and creative.
“We bought this house 16 years ago because we knew the neighborhood,” Heather said. “I grew up here in West Park Subdivision, a few doors down. Darren grew up across the highway. At the time, we were a growing family and needed more room.”
They have called the four-bedroom, three-bath 2,700- square-foot (air-conditioned) house home for the last 16 years. It has an open living room/dining and kitchen floor plan with an additional den.
Heather displays antique and vintage items passed down from generation to generation.
“I don’t keep them stored away; I believe in using them,” she said about keepsakes, dishes and collections, including a slightly dented aluminum cake plate and cover that held many cakes for get-togethers hosted by the local Catholic Church and baked by her grandmother, Anna Lee Bordelon.
Her most recent addition to the living room is a framed porcelain image from Japan, that her grandfather Pete Bordelon brought back to his childhood friend/neighbor Kathryn Bland. The Bland family wanted Heather to have it. (On the back is a handwritten note reminding Heather of where it came from. It’s a reminder to all of us to jot down notes on our own keepsakes.)
The Royer family is proud of its roots, including its ties to the railroad industry. She has both Union Pacific- and KCS-proud railroaders in her family lineage and her husband works for KCS.
“We don’t know any other way,” she said.
Heather also takes an active role in the Louisiana Railroad Festival, held annually in DeQuincy. Darren’s grandmother was one of the founders of the festival that first began in the early 70s.
Posters from past railroad festivals, Jim Beam railroad car decanters, religious keepsakes recently brought back from Israel by Darren’s mother, Sharon Royer, DeQuincy High School Tiger promotional items and antique railroad literature are displayed in the Royer entry hall, along with framed copies of The Declaration of Independence, The Star Spangled Banner and the Pledge of Allegiance.
“I guess you could call us a politically active, patriotic family,” Heather said.
Heather was one of the few people who were able to salvage something from the old DeQuincy Elementary school before it was demolished: A card catalog from its library provides great storage and interest in the family room.
The outdoor living area has been assembled through the years, and has the feel of the perfect island getaway. The style is reminiscent of the laidback idyllic vacations Heather and Darren spent in Galveston and Crystal Beach as children and teens.
The Royer pool, yard or house is the hangout of choice for friends of sons and daughter and neighborhood kids.
“We’ve had many front yard football matches, driveway basketball games, backyard volleyball challenges and pool parties,” Heather said.
Heather’s father, her husband and her boys built the outdoor living space cabinets from rough-cut wood. Heather stained and polyurethaned the top and used the perfect blue-green paint “wipe” on the lower cabinets.
During an Easter weekend vacation, they stumbled across an old Galveston County rescue surfboard. Now it’s a bar by their pool. The kids still remember having to “watch” the board their mom insisted on tying on top of the car for the trip home. A skim board used by the family during many vacations makes another great eating surface. It’s simply attached to a tree stump.
Signage is plentiful, fun and folksy including the painted signs that show the locations of beaches the family has visited.
Heather’s grandfather, Robert Clifton, made the benches and the primitive seating fashioned with wagon wheels.
Heather considers herself a thrift shopping aficionado and unabashed dumpster diver – when the trash discovered suits her. She embarrassed her husband once when she saved two perfectly good outdoor metal chairs from one of DeQuincy’s Trash Bashes, an annual event that offers the community a nearby location for disposing of trash.
“I loved to go to the junk sale at the sale barn,” Heather said. “I was there one day and called Darren to come meet me with the truck. It was before tin became so popular and I had bought a lot of it.”
Darren said he’s generally gung-ho for Heather’s projects. In fact, he suggested putting the tin on top of an old canopy frame. Voila, the Royers were able to add a great, covered area and more comfortable seating. The shade is perfect for hot summer days. The fire pit under the tin-topped canopy makes it perfect for cool nights as well.
“We enjoy our home and enjoy knowing that our children know it is truly their home,” Heather said. “Our motto is, “Being a family means you will love and be loved the rest of your life no matter what”.
To the question, what makes her house a home, she offered this Bible verse: “My people will live in a peaceful dwelling place, in a secure home, in an undisturbed place of rest.” (Isaiah 32:18)