Home in Cedar Lawn dazzles with bright whites, vivid colors
Tucked between Galveston’s East and West beaches, there’s a tangy slice of South Beach — as in Miami.
With its spacious white-on-white-on-white interior, overlaid with exuberant splashes and dashes of intense color, the Cedar Lawn home of James Stork and Joe Henry is almost as unexpected on the Upper Texas Coast as opening a door into the Land of Oz.
Massive chalk white overhead beams, white textured walls, white brick accents and a gleaming white floor in the main living area provide a multi-textured backdrop for an avant-garde decorating style drawing from local, regional and international influences.
“This is a 180-degree turnaround from the home’s previous look,” Stork said. “It was constructed in 1946 in a style described as ‘Mexico Ranchero Modern,’ and when we took ownership, this area was dark brown and hunter green. Other rooms featured porthole-style openings and lots of nautical rope, plus we are still working on repairing damage from 3 feet of flood water during Hurricane Ike.”
Today, an arrangement of tall, vividly colored Murano glass spears light the foyer, while silver-toned accents flow throughout the rooms beyond. Across from the spacious entry, a sweeping main staircase — its plump banister upholstered in magenta leather — ascends upward toward a winged sculpture on the second floor landing.
Golden flames flicker gently in the nearby fireplace, directing the eye toward sleek, white leather seating. Shimmering ribbons of sapphire art glass spill from a large chandelier, the blue hues echoed in an immense, baroque-framed painting leaning against a nearby wall. Ethereal amethyst “ghost” chairs surround a chrome-and-white dining table. The far wall is dominated by a large, antique model airplane, part of a sculpture by Houston artist Matt Messinger.
In the sunroom, a black trunk on red wheels and a cigarette stand from Henry’s grandfather are reflected in a terra-cotta floor so highly polished it seems made of glass. Soft blue custom seating units echo the myriad sky-and-sea hues of an outdoor pool that stretches along a bank of ceiling-to-floor windows. Additional Messinger artworks incorporate such diverse items as antique doll shoes, vintage lace, dried flowers, a rat trap, old boxes, well-worn hardware, tools and scraps of discarded building materials.
Upstairs, the fun continues. Guest bedrooms are decorated in individual color palettes of emerald green and lipstick red; a sunburst orange office is accented with memorabilia from Thailand. Decorative touches include original paintings by Stork, framed images of microbiology slides and a chandelier — made from empty Patrón Tequila bottles — from New Orleans’ Magazine Street.
In contrast to the sizzle elsewhere, celestial blue flows through the master bedroom and bath. An oversize blue-and-white tub and lavatories are from Milan, Italy. It took a team of eight workers plus a hand-cranked winch to get the tub upstairs and into the bathroom, Henry said.
“At the time we purchased the house in 2012, we were living in a downtown Galveston loft,” Henry said. “This was the eighth property our Realtor showed us, but we knew as soon as we walked in that this was it. It had room for a garden and that special sense of light and air that is so much of what we enjoy about island life.”
The two also have high praise for their Cedar Lawn neighborhood. A graduate of Galveston’s Ball High School, Stork always has loved the island. Henry, who hails from Arkansas, has come to enjoy the neighborhood, too.
“We had thought it would be a very reserved group, but we have discovered instead an outgoing and welcoming community,” Henry said.
Along with operating a staffing agency for hospice care, Stork and Henry immerse themselves in the community. One of their civic projects is a campaign against plastic bags.
“Sea turtles mistake them for edible jellyfish, which causes suffocation,” Henry said. “In all our efforts, we are here to make things better.”