Friday, October 12, 2018

Leaving Galveston and Sybi

The movers arrived three hours late, they got lost.  They had an incorrect address in their mapping that took them through Houston, then down to Bolivar Island.  The guys got to bring the  moving truck across from Bolivar to Galveston on the ferry.  We all laughed about it, they didn't see dolphins, they did see Pelicans and Gulls.  They had never been on a ferry before, or to Galveston.  It was an adventure for them.   It was a gorgeous day on the island, a light shower in the afternoon just as they finished loading, it was a good day to move. 

What took us eight days to pack, took the crew of four men only four hours to load.  It was amazing watching them work as a team.  Before we knew it our Sybi was empty - 

The dining room, with silk blend drapes hanging like ball gowns, puddled upon the red pine floors. 

The Parlor with original pocket doors featuring porcelain knobs and the only closet original closet in the house.  In 1894 when Sybi was built, a closet was considered a room, therefore taxed.  People with closets often showed them off by placing them in the parlor, a display of wealth. Mr. GDC used this parlor as his office.  He spent many hours working away in this room, occasionally giving a wave to our friends who wandered by on the sidewalk  - 

The center of the house with cabinets and columns. 

The Keeping Room with it's eight foot square French window framing the view toward the detached garage.  12 foot ceiling throughout, a chandelier dripping in crystal she still felt gracious. 

Her well appointed kitchen where we cooked many a dinner and dozens of cookies to share with friends.  Homes are never truly empty, the memories of those who lived there whisper long after we leave; the lively conversations, clicking of glasses for champagne toast, the soft prayers linger in the air.  

We made our way down the seawall one last time, the waves were crashing along the gulf coast as we began our new adventure. Thank you to our lovely Sybi, to our warm and loving friends who made our time in Galveston such a joy.  There will forever be a part of hearts living there - 

Until next time, wishing you all the best - 

Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Big Move

Moving and Organization 

Moving can be, is a stressful time.  In addition, trying to fit your furnishings and accessories into a different home is real trick.  Some people chose to sell a great deal of items prior to moving. While others of us, well, we love a challenge - 

Bringing it with can present a whole new set of challenges.  One thing that gets on my nerves faster than anything is the repeating parrot; "Where do you want this?" question from movers.  You're just moving in, you have no idea where you want anything, or if it will fit!  In an effort to prevent my glance from becoming one filled with daggers launched in the direction of our hard working movers - I color code.  Yes, color code.  It was born from being the Mom of a dyslexic kid, they can transpose all sorts of words, letters, numbers so color coding is the dyslexic Mom's best friend.  As it turns out, also an excellent method of moving organization.  

For moving supplies I use a combination of boxes, bubble wrap, paper, Styrofoam plates/bowls, furniture wrap, packing tape and colored construction paper.   We also store our large original boxes in our attic.  Boxes to specialty items; televisions, computers, small appliances etc... which allows us the opportunity to pack hard to pack /fragile items in their original packaging.  

When packing there is usually one or two items in the box that will help me to remember the entire contents of the box.  I list those few items upon the top of the box for my reference.  I mark two sides of the box with the destination room, along with writing the one or two things upon the side to help me remember the contents.  

Finally, the box receives a color code; on each side and upon the top.  I color code all of my rooms in the house prior to moving, assigning each space a color.  I cut construction paper into rectangles and tape three rectangles to each box.  On moving day I post a sheet of assigned color of construction paper to its room.  Have I lost you?  Below is the color chart for our next home: 

Living Room - Orange (The walls are UT burnt orange. It's a Texas thing) 
Kitchen - Blue (The marble counters are dark blue and white. Tiny kitchen, gorgeous countertop)
Sunroom - Green (The walls are painted in something close to Sherwin Williams Sea Glass) 
Bedroom - Red (There are red plaid drapery panels on each window) 
Dining Room - Brown (Because that is the color left in the construction paper packet) 
Guest Bedroom - Yellow (There are cream chintz floral drapes with yellow/pink roses)
Garage - White (Because there are tons of boxes that will initially land in the garage. I can color code those boxes with simple printer paper.)

Now that we've spoken about the color system, let's talk packing.  It is very important to make certain that your boxes are packed snugly. Not so tight that things may break. Sung enough to prevent them from shifting in the box.  When items move about when being carried, they break. 

All breakable items should be wrapped in bubble wrap or paper to pad them.  I typically bubble line the bottom and sides of all boxes I am packing breakable items inside.  The bottom lining wraps up two sides, with enough left over to tuck over the top of the box.  On fragile glass items for example, wine glasses, I add another layer of bubbles between layers, offering additional cushion. I'm no expert, this is simply my method.  I can't guarantee or promise that your beloved items won't be broken.  This is a method that has worked for me over, twelve moves. Yes, twelve. 

I've also found that Styrofoam plates and bowls help in packing, lining a Styrofoam plate between each dish helps to pad the dishes, preventing breaking.  The stack of plates will actually spring, when pressure is placed upon then stack. Wrapping the stack with bubble wrap, then adding paper around the stack to create bumpers in the corners insures the plates from moving around, coming unstacked and helps to cushion the plate stack from each side of the box.

The boxes are organized together in our home prior to moving day.  This allows movers to pick up and load all of the same color/rooms together.  I try to stack the boxes three or four high so that movers can easily load them upon a dolly and carry them out, aiding in a quick loading.  This organization in loaded also results in an organized off load.  At the destination I hang a full sheet of construction paper in each room.  The coordinating color for that room.  When movers begin to offload our items into the home, they simply take their stack of color coded boxes to the room with the coordinating color of paper.  It is a bit of work to prepare, to organize, but a method that works great.  Movers seem to appreciate it because they don't have to ask that repeated question "Where do you want this?"  - over and over and over again.  Can you imagine how monotonous that must be, day after day asking the same question?  Color coding on the new destination helps me as well, our boxes are in the appropriate space so I don't have to shift them room to room after the movers have left.   

Someone is a little nervous.....

The movers arrive next Tuesday. It has been challenging move this time; trying to find a home turned into a monumental tasks. It's been one of those moves where every step created new hurdles. We've kept steady.  Our belongings will go to storage for a week in between closing.  It's always so difficult to coordinate moving dates, so many rules, so many people to juggle.  We will be homeless for a week.  We tend to use that week as an opportunity to visit family, and get to know our new town, Corsicana, Texas.  I'll tell you all about it soon; a quaint small town about 65 miles south of Dallas.  Our Real Estate Agent found us the most amazing cottage, yes, a cottage.  I just hope there are grey dove in Corsicana - 

Wishing you all the best - 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

The wall that George built - 

Current design trends have people removing walls to create open floor plans for the way we live today, a bit more casual and more connected.  Busy day to day life benefits from open plans that allow families to be connected, regardless of being busy on different tasks or in various rooms.  For me, personally a historic home requires additional consideration.  I feel there may be a bit of obligation to be mindful of the past.  Our cottage when renovated by the previous owner, had a pass through window added between the dining/keeping room and kitchen.  The pass through featured a bar, protruding into the small scale dining/keeping room.  The bar made furniture placement in the space difficult. If used as a dining room, there was no way to center the table beneath the chandelier. 

A concern for me, was the original plan, the wall was original.  Additionally, I felt the opening created visual confusion, looking past one room through a "frame" of sorts at the kitchen.  It was much too contemporary in design to be part of the cottage structure.  We considered removing the wall completely, opening the kitchen up to the remainder of the house.  Again, original wall. I pondered it for three years.  

Above photo taken a dining table ago! We have a different one now. You can see the opening, the bar and how the kitchen is framed by the opening. The walls are bathed in Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige paint, trimmed in Aesthetic White. 
As we all do, I asked advice from friends, who mostly felt removing the wall to create an open plan was the best choice.   Did I really want to see the kitchen all of the time? See the kitchen from most every room in the house? I felt closing the wall back up would be respectful to the cottage's history, as well as define the spaces.  That definition I thought, would create a more visually pleasing space and plan.  My idea wasn't the most popular.  Eventually, as time grew near for us to place our beloved Sybi on the market, I jumped.  I called my trusty contractor Moses for help.  We met and I explained my plan.  He looked a little confused, after all building a wall, isn't trendy.   Further, there would be a tile issue in the kitchen side, the backsplash tile dipped below the bar counter.  We'd have to figure out a way to deal with the backsplash, or locate matching tile. 

Moses trusty, very talented sidekick George stopped in and in no time had the wall framed and drywall installed.  Finally, I could see what the division would be like.  The spaces actually felt larger.  The peekaboo hole between the two rooms was now gone.  It looked so much better! Maybe even a little contemporary artish - squares and dots... 

See the tile issue?  You can see where the bar counter was.  What to do? I considered hanging antique cabinetry on the wall to add architecture to the kitchen.  Our kitchen is literally clad with cabinetry. I have several cabinets that stand empty.

The following evening when I arrived home from work, Moses and George had applied the final mud to the wall. It had dried.  They should know better than to leave me unsupervised.  A quick inspection indicated that the mud was dry enough to sand. So sand I did. I sanded smooth the wall that George built.  

All it needed now was a coat or two of paint.  I don't recommend that you paint at night. You're going to miss a spot, or two, or three - so on.  But for a first coat, I suppose it works. 

Standing there at midnight, staring at the wall, literally watching paint dry - I felt the non trendy choice to close the wall back up, was the best choice for Sybi (our home).  The focus had previously been on that peekaboo view. Now the gorgeous eight foot square French window and chandelier were the focus of the room.  But what to put on that huge wall?  It's funny when you do things in a home, how every step leads to more; more issues, more work, more questions.  I don't have a lot of art. I do have a hobby. I take photos of statuary, also architectural pieces or details, things that strike my imagination.  That newly built wall looked like a blank canvas - 

The perfect place for a gallery of gathered sites; statues that beg for quiet, rusty fences, broken glass, angels forever holding journals frozen in time contemplating their next thought to record. Moments discovered along streets or in cemeteries, hidden within cities where Mr. GDC and I have wandered.  

While the keeping room wall came naturally.  The kitchen wall was a bit more of a quandary. How to handle the dip in the backsplash?  Mr. GDC offered an idea.  In our previous home we had three large chalkboards in the kitchen.  Those boards held grocery list, kept us up on homework assignment due dates and reminded us of parties and events.  He asked "How about a big chalkboard"?  Hmm. I thought.  It could work, the size could be fluid, then if we framed it in chair rail to finish it off it just might work.  It would need a wall sconce to light the counter and the board.  I quickly got busy carrying out his plan.  I have to admit, that big black rectangle - it was scary. But, it's only paint I thought.  

After Mr. GDC framed it in and installed the sconce for the wall.  I realized he had a great idea.  

 We were able to create something useful, aesthetically pleasing and manage the dipped tile.  Don't you love it when a twinkling idea develops into something just right? 

For three years I wondered what to do with that wall.  For three years it bugged me.  For three years I knew it could be so much better.  Don't be like me! Don't worry about trends! Don't wait! Jump! Follow your heart and get your George to build a wall. 

Wishing you all the best - 

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Sybi's Photo Tour

For Sale 3402 Avenue O, Galveston, Texas 

We've been working for weeks on the cottage; painting the exterior, interior and finishing up projects. Our lives are changing, we are being pulled toward a different path away from our beloved Sybi.  We are offering our cottage for sale.  It's a wonderful opportunity for you to curate an amazing historic property in Galveston.  She's a little Victorian, a little 1940's, a little contemporary - which earned her the name Sybil, Sybi for short.  Built in 1894-1895 she is a 1900 storm survivor. She's graceful, she's charming, she's a beautiful place to call home - 


For information about Sbyi please contact our Agent, Tom Schwenk here for details. 

Wishing you all the best -