Friday, April 2, 2010

19th Century Worker's Cottage Becomes a Galveston Jewel

Where there's a will, there's a way. Just ask Lee, a young woman who lived in a small downtown Houston apartment and wanted a Galveston beach cottage for weekend play time.  Thanks to help from family and friends, Lee managed to transform a shabby 19th century worker’s cottage into this charming island getaway without breaking the bank. 
She and her dad made the balastrade contained by the front porch railing. She went to an architectural salvage yard, selected a baluster she liked, then asked "Dad" to use it to cut a pattern. Voila.

I wish I had a Before picture, but I don't. Suffice it to say, it didn't look like this.
Lee dived into this renovation with a plan. And in the end, it only cost her $35,000.
Lee added the dormers, shutters, white picket fence, redid the porch, hung a new front door, landscaped....

Lee's family and friends joined her in tearing down walls, removing the old kitchen flooring and replacing it with new Linoleum tiles, installing stainless steel IKEA cabinetry and landscaping the front and side yards. Before doing anything, she had hired a structural engineer to come look at the property. Then, she hired contractors to do the roof so that it would accommodate a pair of dormers on this side of the house to ensure symmetry (the other side already had dormers), to construct the screened porch and a small kitchen pantry. The contract work constituted her real costs. 

Up on her revived porch. It's an old Southern tradition to paint the porch ceiling sky blue to prevent birds or bees from nesting.

Lee says she grew up knowing that "you don’t just go out and buy an old window. You need the right weights and sash ropes. You can’t just go out and find everything you need at Home Depot. Sometimes you need to hit garage sales or (architectural) salvage yards." 

The wood floors are original to her house. This is what you see when stepping inside. The old bus stop poster in back came from her dad who had stashed it away years ago. The doorway goes into the kitchen. Most of the furnishings here came from Pier I or IKEA. The ship was a housewarming gift from a friend.

Her decorating budget? Somewhere between $500 and $800, she says. Her mattress and bed frame cost the most. Her favorite haunts for best buys: Pier 1, Target and IKEA. So youthful and beachy, don't you think?

A casual dining space. Her uncle made the little table over in the corner.

I forgot to tell you how Lee got this house. She wanted a house that had fallen in disrepair and possibly one that hadn’t been architecturally altered. Every weekend when she went to visit her parents, who live on the island, she pedaled her bike through select neighborhoods looking for the “right” property.  Whenever she spotted a possible redo during her bike rides, she jotted down the addresses of those houses that charmed her. Then, she looked up the owner’s information on the county appraisal district rolls. She phoned owners, wrote them letters … asking if she could talk to them about buying their property. At last, one said yes.

A friend of the family (an architect) had gutted a house but saved the sink and countertops. He gave them to Lee. (Shouldn't we all have friends like this?!) Her shelving is from IKEA. And her backsplash are 19th century glazed clay roof tiles -- an idea she actually got from me when our house was on the Galveston Historic Foundation home tour the year before. I didn't know this until I visited. How funny -- and flattering....

She and friends put down the new light blue and white Linoleum. She added the doorway (and transom) leading into her family room.

Her family room. Used furniture.

She hung old doors at the doorway for added historic interest.

The doorway originally opened up to nothing. She added the screened porch, old doors and shutters. 

Another view of her screened porch.

Her bedroom.
Back to her living room. This collection of old bottles belonged to her grandmother who enjoyed going out to the beach and digging them up. Guess they came in from the sea where sand soon buried them.

The whole adventure –from finding the right redo (circa 1860) to finishing it  – took almost three years. What do you think of her place? I liked its inspirational, fun and casual spirit. Plus, she saved a house from further ruin.

16 Responses to “19th Century Worker's Cottage Becomes a Galveston Jewel”

Lindy said...

I found you via Susan Tweit's "Walking Nature Home" blog. Glad I did! I have come up with some great ideas for my next house which will probably be a new house and in need of all sorts of "really cool" ideas.

BTW - I too lived in Salida at one time - the greatest little community anywhere.


Malisa said...

What an awesome post! I am so impressed by this renovation! I will be looking for it next time I head out to Galveston! Thanks for sharing these photos!


Stacey said...

I love it! I can imagine living there by the Gulf of Mexico right now. :)

Amazing! that kitchen alone would have cost 35K to redo the traditional way (no help from family and fantastic gift from friends!) It looks lovely.

This post just blew me away. Wow! I'm so impressed--she really did an amazing job, especially considering her budget.

That bus stop poster is so cool. I'm loving the screened porch, too. I didn't know they paint porch ceilings light blue to keep the birds from nesting there. Interesting!

Karena said...

I just love wat a great makover you accomplished. How comfortable, casual and cozy!

Art by Karena

It is not too late!
Art Giveaway is up on my site, so come & join!

What a terrific story. And talk about tenacity! First to GET the house, then to restore it so beautifully on a real person's budget. Really beautiful. Thanks for sharing (thank your young friend too!)

kim said...

What a wonderful home that is full of character. I love how she transformed the outside and the inside is so beach chic and cozy. Love all the color choices and the use of salvaged items mixed with new.

Gaƫlle said...

This is so great! I'm Belgian, live in Austin, TX and LOOOOOOVE Galveston. I have a few pictures of houses from the island on my blog too...


Tricia said...

I love that this house is so personal, and that she put in the things that were meaningful to her - not just 'granite counters'! NO point in being bamboozled into spending "ought" instead of 'need' or 'want'. Love this, hope she enjoys it for ever.

Susan, thanks for stopping by & leaving your comments on the Finding your Style post. I loved reading everyone's thoughts on that & I think most agree that we have to find our own way & not get caught up in all the fads that come along. Something to learn with age, I think.

You must have the most fun job in the world. It must be so much fun to see yourself in a magazine feature!

I just LOVE this adorable beach cottage. She has done an outstanding job on renovating a little jewel of a house like this. Bravo! My fave thing is those blue shutters by the front door.

It just go to show it is not the cost or the size ect. It is the style and having a great eye. Great job, the house is lovely!!!

erin said...

found your blog through hooked on houses...and so happy i did! i just love this little beach cottage and how she achieved it so thriftily (is that a word?)anyway, it's adorable.

I found your comment very interesting. I wondered what it was about a kitchen that told the story as to how much it is used ... I looked at my own kitchen and thought about your comment. I am a neat freak, but I cook, and I CAN COOK. I am a very good cook and cook often, but I have nothing out, but eye candy... however, if you looked in my pantry or frig, you would know. I would love more insight to your thinking ...I love a comment that gets my mind a

I love it! I was so surprised to see those metal chairs on the porch. I have a matching chair!


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