Vintage-inspired Silk Stocking kitchen is designed to pop
With both a globally recognized theme and vibrant color scheme designed to “pop,” Kim and Doug Wisener’s Galveston Island kitchen also packs a functional punch into every inch of its compact floor plan.
Channeling the style of the 1950s, and accented with a bright mix of aqua and red accessories and hardware, the cheerful room is a tribute to the couple’s own hard work over a four-year restoration and Doug Wisener’s dedication to his lifelong favorite soft drink — Coca-Cola.
Incorporating vintage-style, glass-fronted white cabinetry, a black Silestone countertop, soft, gray flooring and stainless steel appliances, the culinary hub of the Wisener’s 1907 cottage features a carefully calculated traffic-flow plan.
In particular, it was designed to allow several people to participate in food preparation at the same time, a feature the couple appreciates when preparing fresh foods and cooking from scratch. It especially comes in handy when their grandchildren come to visit and cooking becomes a multi-generational affair.
Additional space has been made available through the incorporation of such novel features as a cutting board leveraged on hinged, extendable arms, and an antique barn-door style closure that takes up almost no floor or elbow room, but attractively hides the adjacent utility room.
The colorful mix and vintage style is continued in the dining area, where a reproduction red and chrome dinette set contrasts happily with a collection of authentic Blue Willow china once belonging to Kim Wisener’s mother.
In addition to Coca-Cola memorabilia, a letter from the company’s international headquarters thanks the couple for sharing a photo of Doug Wisener in a signature “Best Pop Ever” T-shirt. Other unique touches include the couple’s ability to creatively incorporate bits of Galveston architectural history into the kitchen redesign.
A diagonally placed wall cabinet, acquired from Galveston Historical Foundation’s Architectural Salvage Warehouse, bears a plaque stating that it originally hung in the officers’ quarters at former island military complex Fort Crockett.
Doug Wisener — with the help of how-to books and the internet — taught himself to mill cabinetry to match stylistically. The corner computer and work desk was created by topping a vintage wood filing cabinet with wood salvaged from the wall of another room. The barn door also was acquired from the Galveston Historical Foundation. The trolley on which it slides was discovered at the Antique Warehouse on 25th Street, and American Fence and Supply Co. on Harborside Drive custom-crafted the door’s metal track.
Formerly of Katy, Texas, the Wiseners didn’t initially intend to buy a house in Galveston. They did know they wanted to retire to someplace near the water, but were thinking more along the lines of a lakefront property. Then, on a visit to Galveston, it occurred to them they didn’t need to settle for a lake when they could have the entire Gulf of Mexico, and thus began what turned out to be an exhausting search for both them and their Realtor, Tom Schwenk.
Doug Wisener estimates that Schwenk showed them about 80 homes. Kim Wisener puts the number at closer to 100. But she knew this was “the one” as soon as she walked in the front door, she said. Doug Wisener remembers the moment well.
“I looked around and saw my wife with a very special expression on her face as she looked out the 9-foot-wide front picture window, and I immediately said to myself, ‘I think we just bought a house.’”
Kim Wisener credits Schwenk for making such a perfect match.
“He was so patient with us,” she said. “We were certainly not looking for anything expensive, but he always treated us as if we had a zillion dollars and really listened to what we wanted. He also predicted that if we did buy a house on the island, we would be living here full-time within five years.”
Today, the Wiseners, who bought their home in 2012, are remembering those prophetic words as they move past the first anniversary of settling into their Silk Stocking District cottage. It was a move that required several years of intense rebuilding, however.
“Redoing this house has truly been a four-year labor of love,” said Kim Wisener, a former school counselor, adding that during this period she and her husband, a manager with Bass Pro Shops, traveled from Katy to Galveston every weekend and holiday to work on their retirement dream.
Although repairing termite damage and holes in the walls was essential, the couple found their greatest challenge was walking the fine line between bringing the house up to modern standards while continuing to honor its historic elements. There was also the issue of culling belongings that once filled a 2,200-square-foot home in Katy to what would fit into their 1,300-square-foot Galveston cottage.
Today, all that careful planning has paid off, literally and figuratively. Not only are the Wiseners enjoying a more relaxed and less complicated lifestyle, but by doing the work themselves and paying cash for materials, costs throughout the project remained under control. Today — only one year after moving into their home — they have achieved the truest of retirement dreams.
“Everything is totally paid for,” Doug Wisener said, with a very satisfied smile.
Kim and Doug Wisener’s commitment to including more fresh vegetables in their diet makes dishes such as this a popular treat in their home.
STIR-FRY SHRIMP FAJITAS
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced into thin strips
1 red onion, peeled and sliced into small strips
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1½ pounds raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Fresh lime, cut in wedges
10 medium-size tortillas
In a large bowl, combine yellow and red bell pepper, onion, 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Toss gently so all ingredients are equally distributed throughout.
Place a small amount of olive oil in a wok or heavy, deep-sided skillet and heat over medium high heat, then gently stir in vegetable mixture. Stirring occasionally, cook about 4 to 6 minutes or until vegetables start to become tender. Add shrimp and cook an additional 4 to 6 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.
While shrimp is cooking, heat tortillas in oven or on a griddle. To serve, fill tortillas with shrimp mixture and top with cilantro and fresh lime juice to taste.
Named for one of the Wisener’s 8-year-old granddaughters, this kid-friendly recipe offers hands-on experience with a minimum of muss and fuss.
PAYTON’S MINI CHOCOLATE PIES
Servings: 12 mini-size pies
1 package Pillsbury refrigerated prepared pie crusts (Note: Package will contain two flat pastry rounds, each adequate for a 9-inch pie crust)
Pam baking spray with flour
1½ cups granulated sugar
3½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs, well beaten
5 ounces evaporated milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioners (or powdered) sugar for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 F. On a flat cutting board or other firm level surface, lay out both pastry rounds according to package directions. Using a large, round cookie cutter, cut six pastry rounds out of each of the larger rounds. (Note: Be sure to use a cookie cutter that will yield 12 rounds in the correct size to fit into your muffin tin’s cups.)
Spray each empty muffin tin cup with Pam. Line each muffin tin cup with a circle of dough, being careful to gently fit dough into the cup without stretching dough while it is being shaped to fit around the edges of the cup.
For filling, whisk together sugar, cocoa powder, butter, eggs, evaporated milk and vanilla. Mix well. Divide filling evenly between the 12 pastry-lined cups, then bake about 40 minutes. Carefully remove each pie from muffin tin to cool, and while cooling, sprinkle pies lightly with confectioners sugar.