Small splash of sea themes enhance roomy kitchen
Karen Morris knew exactly what she wanted in a kitchen when she and her husband, Tom, built their Bacliff home in 2001.
“I wanted an open-concept design where I could look out and see practically every room in the house, as well as a good view of Galveston Bay,” she said.
She got her wish. The airy kitchen, surrounded by arched doorways, provides just that, making the entire space a breeze for entertaining.
Working with an on-site carpenter proved advantageous, she said.
“It was a great experience because he asked what I wanted as he went along, offering suggestions, like adding spindles at the end of the island and bar area,” Morris said.
A nautical theme is ever so subtle here and there — the gold shell motif above the pantry doors, silver rope trim along the tumbled marble backsplash, a brass ship’s bell and ironwood swordfish added for décor.
Stained maple cabinets with antique brass hardware, sandy speckled granite countertops and slate floors are a perfect marriage of light and dark. Noticeable is the built-in pantry with opaque fluted glass doors and a convenient separate wet bar.
Fresh-picked tomatoes atop the counter are the norm this time of year, because Morris, a Master Gardener, believes in homegrown food. She tends to her vegetable garden year-round, and an orchard across the way provides an abundance of fruit.
Because Morris loves to cook, she spends a lot of time in front of her Thermador stove.
“I like to make big pots of soup and steam fresh vegetables,” she said.
A standing rib roast is a snap for Morris to put in the oven, but preparing gumbo takes the most time.
“Tom’s mother taught me how to make a roux,” she said.
Morris’s All-Clad cookware, CorningWare and her Wusthof knives are “must-haves” for turning out tasty dishes, she said.
To serve up her fare, she uses her Wedgwood Cavendish china.
“I picked out this shell pattern when I was 12 years old, because that’s when my mother started buying it for me,” she said.
Her favorite kitchen gadgets include her Hamilton Beach juice press, which she uses to juice pomegranates, and her Breville juicer for other fruits as they ripen in the orchard.
Her most treasured gadget is a vintage Pyrex turkey baster, still in its original yellow box, that belonged to her mother.
“Mom bought it at the old Joske’s department store in Houston for 69 cents,” Morris said.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about her kitchen is the pass-through window, which allows her to pass prepared food through the opening when entertaining outdoors. But, for the most part, guests prefer to hang out in the kitchen.
“It’s the heart and soul of the whole house,” she said.
Another soulful area in this open-concept space is the large, hand-painted mural on the adjoining dining room wall. Morris commissioned it in memory of her mother, based on a poem by Luther Beecher. The sun’s rays stream past a sailboat toward muted figures on the shore.
“It’s metaphorical,” Morris said. “My mother may be gone from my sight, but far away, the light says, ‘No, here she comes.’”