Health crisis inspires a couple to move in and makeover a seaside condo
Colorful goldfish darting about in an antique bathtub mark the way to Kathleen and Donald Price’s front door on Galveston’s Seawall Boulevard.
Relatively new as island homeowners, the couple has in the past two years turned a cookie-cutter condo built in 1982 into a refreshing — and healing — oasis of 21st century innovation and imagination.
“When we first began this project, Kathleen was dealing with a major health crisis,” said Donald Price, who grew up in Seabrook. “Our home in The Woodlands had become more than she could handle, but I had spent a good deal of time on the island when I was young and felt Galveston could be just the place to help in her recovery.”
To that end — even as he spent long hours in physicians’ waiting rooms and at his wife’s hospital bedside — Donald Price went to work balancing his job as a 37-year veteran flight attendant with designing plans for their island relocation.
“It was during this time that Kathleen was so sick that I not only planned our new home, but also did most of the shopping and purchasing for it online — right down to the nuts, bolts and doorknobs — even as I sat and waited for the next medical report,” he said.
Today, a radiant Kathleen Price joins her husband in an active, health-oriented lifestyle in which she is surrounded by the restorative qualities of the home’s seaside location in a high-pleasure, low-maintenance residence designed just for her.
“We wanted to let in as much light and air as possible and really open up the space,” Donald Price said as he explained how he and Deer Park-based Don Crosslin Construction created a plan in which three bedrooms were reduced to two and a number of interior walls were not only moved, but removed.
Obtrusive partitions that had previously separated the kitchen from the living area were torn out, as well as a bar area and a non-working fireplace. The resulting open-concept room combines the functions of living, dining and food preparation areas in a serene setting that reflects the tones and textures of the Texas Coast. Pickled pine walls and other neutral tones anchor the multi-purpose space, where even the ripples in the aqua blue glass tile backsplash offer a seaworthy touch to the kitchen’s white cabinetry and stainless steel appliances.
A downstairs bedroom has been repurposed as a Chanel-style dressing and bath suite that was inspired by Kathleen Price’s career as a couture-level retail specialist. Accessed through leaded glass French doors — one of the few items the couple retained from their former home — the space provides a luxury spa retreat plus a boutique-like setting for her collection of designer handbags and the delicate, handmade necklaces her mother, an interior designer, created as birthday gifts.
A treehouse effect is achieved between the condo’s two levels by the use of driftwood posts for the home’s stair balusters. Upstairs, a space that formerly served as the guest bedroom closet now opens the opposite direction into the main hallway and houses the laundry room. Other “swap outs” include exchanging the locations of the guest bath’s toilet and shower, turning a former linen closet into the home’s computer and office nook, and relocating electrical outlets to allow furnishings, such as the bed in the master suite, to be placed in the center of the room to offer a panoramic Gulf view.
The master bath includes what Kathleen Price refers to as a “man-cave shower” of multi-toned and textured gray stone and tile. Mirrors above the lava stone sinks are repurposed pieces originally used on a merchant ship; outdoor water faucet hardware has been fashioned into a toilet paper holder.
Other furnishings and accessories throughout the home include custom pieces from Bayside Chic Galveston, artwork by Robert Petersen and Jesse Lott, plus a growing collection of island treasures such as a vintage chandelier discovered on The Strand.
A punchy wonderland of color and whimsical design is provided by one-of-a-kind furnishings from the MacKenzie-Childs line, known for its innovative and off-beat combinations of materials.
With two dogs — Ice T, a terrier, and Coco, a Chihuahua — plus Sasha, a Siamese cat, and Chanticleer, the rooster, the couple today is reveling in their acculturation to an island lifestyle.
“I call it becoming ‘islandized’,” Kathleen Price said. “Maybe you could even call it ‘Galvestonized’ in that my days now include a 2-mile walk on the beach, gardening and rides with the dogs on our three-wheeled trike.”
She especially enjoys her work as a volunteer with the Seeding Galveston project, which has a mission of making fresh fruits, eggs and dairy available to island residents year-round, and exploring the city with her husband on his bright orange Harley-Davidson 110 Screamin’ Eagle motorcycle.
“We are already on a first-name basis with the butcher at 35th Street’s H&R Food Market and the owners of 45th Street’s Los Compas Taqueria & Mexican Restaurant,” she said. “It really feels like we are on a permanent vacation — it’s truly a beautiful world here.”