Monday, May 23, 2016


We bought a Cottage



We wandered about the island and the internet searching for our next home. While I wished for a project; something to toy and play with, Mr. GDC wished for something different; intact, updated - inhabitable. Obviously he is the sensible, realistic one; while I am a romantic; ready to “save” a home with original details, regardless of the condition.  After many discussions and days of searching we toured a cottage.  Quirky, is the adjective I use, the floor plan is odd due to previous remodeling. It is a bit Victorian, Mid-Century and Contemporary, a cottage with multiple personalities. 




The exterior is a picturesque post card; with a white picket fence and “X” design balustrade, and bay windows along one side. It sits perched upon a corner lot with towering palm trees posted almost as guards. The cottage was built in 1894 by a wealthy widow for her and her children, and is a "Storm Survivor" of the 1900 Storm. "The Storm" as it is known on the island struck Galveston in September of 1900 destroying the city and resulting in incomprehensible damage and death. You may read more about the 1900 Storm by going here 



Approaching the cottage I noted the large square newel post (I use that word generously), they must be from one of the renovations, more Craftsman than Victorian.  The cottage sits up off the ground some five feet. The bottom is concrete skirted with graceful decorative archways.  After the 1900 Storm much of the island was filled in to raise the ground level to prevent flooding from future storms.  Workers actually raised the homes, an amazing feat. We believe prior to the island fill the home was high enough to walk beneath it; a bead board ceiling and fireplace chimney beneath the cottage provide us with clues from which to draw our conclusion. The tall windows to the right are original; the large French window, front door and French windows forming the "bump out" on the left are from a renovation.  




Entering the foyer the walls are clad with exterior siding and a bead board ceiling. Directly across from the front door is what appears to be shelving inside the frame of either an original doorway or window, alongside that shelving a porch pilaster. The front porch must have graced two sides of the cottage. We wonder where the original front door was located.  It is a pretty room, bathed in sunlight. It's difficult to guess the renovation era; 1940's, 1950's? The French window panes are wavy, and are made with ropes and sash that you can hear inside the wall when a window is raised. I’m wondering how to locate renovation information; most records in Galveston have been lost from past hurricanes.  





Stepping down through a very large opening you enter a square room accented with cabinets and Doric columns that appear a new addition. The room is punctuated with a huge French window framing the view of the world outside. “Look at the window, look at the house across the street, is that a copper roof?"  Glancing past the panes; the house across the street is beautiful, the view as well and "yes Mr. GDC I think that is a copper roof". 





Walking forward there is a large room featuring original pocket doors and hardware. What appears to be an original closet is tucked beside a peculiar faux fireplace with pink painted brick, This room displays many period features; original windows with wavy glass, an ornate picture mold, and soaring ceilings. Mr. GDC "This would be a great office.” I'm sorry, Office? (He works from home.) The details in the room are beautiful. But, pink brick?




At the center of the home and off to one side another room with a fireplace, soaring ceilings, picture molding, and a beautiful bay out of original windows featuring wavy period glass.  I like this room.





Wandering back through the hallway we found a ¾ bath, with a small shower.  The finishes are nice, too modern and current for my taste. I think something more "vintage" would have been nice; subways, and beadboard, and tiny mosaics...  




At the end of the hallway another room; same beautiful bay out with original windows and period features; wavy glass, soaring ceilings and picture molding.




A skinny closet lined one wall. The floor gently creaked as we walked about (love that creak). A doorway lead to a private bath with the original pedestal sink and a claw foot tub. The bath clad in pale gray subway tiles had all the charm I had been longing for, I adore subway tile. (Heavy sigh.)




Back through the hallway to the center of the house; there is an open room that is probably the dining room; just off the kitchen with a pass through window and a charming built-in along one side that must be original. Eastlake style pulls accent the built-in drawer, fluted trim frame the shelves and bulls-eye decorative corners are situated at the top corners. The other side of the room has a large French window; a "twin" to the window at the front.  There he is again; “look at that built-in?” Yes, I see the built in, very pretty. Placing the return air in the bottom portion of the built-in creates a decorating dilemma. And I'm unsure of the pass through complete with bar in a turn of the century Victorian. Am I the only one who feels this change in design is odd?




Progressing forward there is a huge kitchen introducing itself; copper glass mosaic tile counter tops and walls, what appears to be custom designed cabinetry with soft close drawers (I long for soft close drawers).  Pristine, modern, and current the kitchen falls flat with me. How my heart longs for chipped paint cabinets and a drain board. (Yes, I know, I need counseling.)   Romantic me feels the kitchen is like a shiny new penny sitting inside a jar of well warned, much traveled, antique coins who if only they could talk would spin tales of adventure. A thrilled “Wow!” breaks my thought; Mr. GDC is wandering about the kitchen opening every cupboard, playing with the drawers while he peers over to me displaying a well satisfied expression.  All I can think is; it’s brown; very, very brown.





Up a short staircase that connects the original home to the carriage house there is a private bedroom and bath. Within seconds of our rising into the space there is a shout “Mine! This is my room”! The shout had come from our 18 year old son who up to this point had remained somewhat quiet.  Staring at me through excited eyes, with the grin that melts my heart with warmth, I had to admit “yes, it’s perfect”. What? Who said that I thought? Did I say that? Not with that brown kitchen!




Private bath for Jr's bedroom. 4 X 4 pale green tiles and green fixtures it feels a little 1940's, 1950's maybe 1960's.  Still confused. 




The group of us traveled another two steps passing from the carriage house onto an outdoor walkway.





We opened a door entering the living room above the garage; where I believe our son had an out of body experience. He floated about the room, snatching open the double French doors, walking out onto the balcony, breathing deeply he turned and proclaimed “I’m home”.   Feeling defeated; I realized that no matter what else lie ahead of us upon our cottage tour, we had discovered our next home.  We were there, standing in it. Despite my concerns and lack of enchantment with the kitchen, this home possesses many details that we need. We’d recently completed a one year renovation on our last home; Mr. GDC was tired of bleeding money, and clearly uninterested in another project. Romantic me was a bit disgruntled.  






We wandered back to the kitchen where I heard the words that formed a knot it my stomach; “Let’s make an offer.” Oh no! The little voice in my head screamed; my inner self running about my head, my hair standing on end, no not this house with the new, brown kitchen! The house has a personality disorder! (Sybil) The plan is quirky. I saw 40’s windows, and 1800’s windows and a 2015 kitchen. I think I counted four different styles of interior doors. Please not this one!  Mr. GDC stood there, holding his breath, peering at me; the love of my life, whom I have such a difficult time saying “no” to.  Which by the way makes me insane. He wore a grin. Interesting, I never noticed his grin was so similar to our son’s.  "Seriously?” I inquired.  He responded; “Yes, don’t you love it?” Frantically looking about, “Um no, not really love. Are there antacids in the truck? The windows are pretty, I like all the windows. Can we go? Anyone else hungry?"







Returning to Fisherman's Wharf for more delectable shrimp. We sat outside on the pier. I was lost in thought while staring at the rigging on the Elissa docked alongside the pier. I found it beautiful. The island was going to be different, new, interesting, an adventure. My two guys were lost in elation, chatting back and forth - they were in house love. There had been a time when the cottage kitchen would have made my heart sing; years ago, my English Country period. All I could think now was how I wanted vintage chipped cupboards. Heavy sigh. Yes, I know…counseling. 









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