Bayside home filled with treasures from around the world
Ships of the world pass in the harbor outside and treasures of the world take center stage inside the Galveston bayside home belonging to Eddie Kier and Johnnie Mize.
With two oversize master bedrooms — one upstairs and one down — each complete with its own luxury bath, plus a similarly designed guest suite, the Caribbean-style home makes the most of its more than 4,000 square feet and provides a view in any direction that is nothing short of spectacular.
Coffered- and tray-style ceilings — some as high as 14 feet, plus multiple arches and carefully selected shades from a horizon-expanding palette, open the interior spaces of the home even more. The home provides an ample and appropriate setting for a museum’s worth of collections gleaned from both distant and local marketplaces.
Looking north outdoors from the main living area, large tankers, cargo ships and fishing boats give the illusion of passing to and fro in waters contiguous with the homes’ elegant infinity edge pool, a design feature created by the careful placement of a series of descending landscaping tiers.
Inside the home, European antiques dating back three centuries are displayed alongside treasures of more recent, local and, in some cases, humble origin. Happily coexisting amid collections of Lalique, Baccarat and Waterford are a great-grandfather’s chemistry set, a great-grandmother’s sewing basket and a bell from a hotel that another set of forebears ran in Dublin, Ireland. An elegant set of Limoges china, still in its original vintage box, is a treasure uncovered at a Catholic church bazaar in Milan, Italy.
Wall art ranges from an authentic Marc Chagall print and two vintage lithographs featuring Sarah Bernhardt, to a set of wall-size nude paintings acquired from a Galveston bar when it went out of business several decades back. Other pieces represent a variety of styles, artists and subjects, many from New Orleans and other favorite locales.
The memories brought back by many of these items and the stories that come with them are the most compelling aspects of the home, however.
A coastal scene painted by Mize’s mother and inspired by her visits to St. Thomas garners a special place of honor, as does a set of cordial glasses on which she hand-painted tropical birds and flowers.
An English love seat and chair dating from 1780 and covered in crimson crushed velvet was handed down to Kier by his mother, who was an interior designer, professional upholsterer and also owned a mattress manufacturing company in East Texas.
“When my mother redid these pieces in 1962, it was only the second time they had been upholstered,” Kier said, adding that she also taught him how to sew and upholster, skills he still uses in the operation of West End Gallery & Decor, the island store he and Mize own.
Other noteworthy antique furnishings include a Louis XV display cabinet, an executive desk set from Austria, a Baroque German clock found in Galveston, and an ornate Italian mirror. Yet another continent is represented in the African-influenced upstairs game room, and additional “finds” throughout the home represent, among other nations, Spain, France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Great Britain, Russia, Singapore, Vietnam, China and the former Czechoslovakia.
In the luxuriously appointed an oversize kitchen, travertine tile walls have been combined with Magma Gold granite countertops, a full suite of Dacor appliances and a large work island that conceals smaller appliances on one side and cookbooks on the other.
Despite its current elegance, however, the home’s path to realization was not always smooth. Buying the property in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, Kier and Mize invested six years of study and search as they visited various coastal communities and explored alternative construction techniques, architects and hurricane resilience.
Additionally drawing from their own experiences traveling and living in other coastal locations around the world — they had even once owned a home on St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands — Mize and Kier finally gave the project to Weber Design Group in Naples, Fla.
“Although we love Galveston and knew our preference was to live on the island bayfront, we were impressed with this group’s familiarity with designing in accord to Florida’s rigorous coastline standards,” Mize said. “Today, this home meets those standards, with metal plates in the walls and metal structural beams — that durability was extremely important to us.”
Other adaptations keyed to Galveston include high-performance foam insulation, vented closets to provide adequate air circulation and woodwork and cabinetry constructed of alder, known for its ability to handle warm, humid climates.
“We even did our own personal grade raising, elevating the lot to 14 feet, 6 inches above sea level,” Kier said. “That alone required bringing in 95 dump trucks full of dirt, but as with the citywide grade raising after the 1900 Storm, it may someday make the difference of a lifetime.”