West End abode features subtle bay house flourishes with Texas twists
You have to drive a bit down FM 3005 to get to Sunset Cove, an enclave of waterfront homes in Galveston Island’s West End. But with seascapes rolling past on both sides, the trek hardly matters.
Houstonian Susan Smith finished building a two-story house on Greenwing Teal Court earlier this year.
She and her husband, Andy, fell in love with the quaint coastal tableau, where reeds warble with seabirds and only a few miles east cattles graze.
After claiming a half-circle plot at the tip of a coveted cul-de-sac, they brought Houston designer Bat Oggero and builder Corby Broesche on board. Broesche oversees the Galveston arm of Cunningham Building and Development.
Although polished and pretty, there’s nothing especially remarkable about the home’s sand-colored facade.
For Andy and Susan and the lion’s share of West Enders, public fronts aren’t the first priority, Broesche said.
“With a lot of these Galveston houses, the most important part is not the street view — it’s the back side,” he said.
This is where life unfolds for the Smiths and their three children.
Between the pilings, two deep porch swings face each other suspended by thick strands of rope.
“This is my favorite spot in the house,” Smith said.
In a visual trick, it appears the pool water would spill over the bulkhead were it not for a feature wall tiled in midnight blue.
Smith explains that a full-shade spa wasn’t the original plan.
“It’s supposed to stick out a little with a half moon, so it would get some sun. But, the way the house sat on the lot we couldn’t go any farther,” she said.
This design hiccup worked to their advantage, because without the sun to contend with on stifling summer afternoons, the water stays cold enough to be refreshing.
It’s still and quiet, save for a pair of rowdy dogs somersaulting the expanse between the pool and a staircase at the far end, which leads to the proper quarters on the next level.
In nearly 3,500 square feet, there are 4.5 bathrooms and five bedrooms — two downstairs, including the master.
“We wanted to get a few things out of it space-wise, but we didn’t want it to be too big,” Smith said.
It’s as if a Texas farmhouse has been stitched across a cottage in Nantucket. The walls are lined with whitewashed planks, the floors a rustic yellow pine.
“Because pine is softer than something like oak, it gets its dings and separations, but that’s what makes it pretty,” Broesche said.
A large island anchors the kitchen with three overhead pendants to cast a flood of task lighting across its creamy granite slab. The columned base was painted gray and distressed to match built-in bookshelves at the great room’s opposite end.
Although no bay house would be complete without a nod to the nearby Gulf of Mexico, Smith chose not to go overboard with nautical accessories. She opted instead for subtle textural references — weathered wooden accent tables, a circular mirror slung up with a rope hanger, metal lantern lights and a palette of white, gray and blue with punches of coral and green.
A blue-and-white striped rug defines the den, cornered with sofas in white linen slipcovers. Tufted armless chairs sit on either side of the fireplace to round out the seating area. Three large windows bathe the space in natural light, where from the house kayakers can be seen gliding up and down the canal.
The downstairs master, like the rest of the bedrooms, is furnished with traditional pieces made interesting by textiles — an eclectic rug here, a throw pillow there.
On the second level, three bedrooms are positioned along a corridor. In the center, sliding barn doors open to reveal the boyish and charming middle bunkroom captained by the Smiths’ youngest, Oliver.
Four built-in bunks fitted with striped duvets serve as comfy ship-like sleeping cubbies, each with a caged reading sconce and a switch.
Down the hall, the Smiths’ daughter, Grace, is spending a restful afternoon cuddled up beneath bright boho linens with an iPad.
Once settled in for a weekend, it’s hard to break away from their serene escape. Even a trip to the island’s historic downtown district seems deceptively far.
“I feel like when we go to The Strand it takes us forever to get there,” Susan Smith said.