After Harvey, Dickinson couple recreates Tuscan-style design and décor
Margaret and Darrell Carney were living in California when Darrell presented Margaret with two new job offers he was considering. His options were in Detroit and Galveston.
“All I knew about Galveston was that it was a town in a Glen Campbell song,” said Margaret Carney, who chose Galveston and never looked back.
Although the job was on the island, they moved to Dickinson, eventually buying a 4.3-acre parcel of land along Dickinson Bayou in 1999 and hired architect Blair Korndorffer.
“He came out, looked at the property and designed the house so there would be views of the bayou from the majority of the house,” Margaret Carney said.
Korndorffer succeeded, with all but two rooms having water views.
The 5,000-square-foot, two-story house with three bedrooms, four baths, living room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast nook, butler’s pantry, office and conversation room was the dream home the couple envisioned.
“During the design and décor stages, everything Darrell and I wanted had a Tuscan theme, plus we’ve traveled to Italy, so it just went in that direction,” Carney said.
The openness in the home is evident, as is all the natural light. Stepping down into the bi-level living room, the view of the bayou through the six-panel, butt-glazed glass picture window is impressive. Butt glazing is an installation in which the glass is retained at the head and sill, with no structural support on the vertical edges.
“There are houses on the other side, but barely noticeable, due to the foliage, plus there’s a Bayou Land Conservancy easement to our left, so we love the privacy,” Carney said.
The house was flooded by 27 inches of water during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. During that storm, the Carneys hunkered down upstairs. After the storm, they took inventory of the damage and began the process of repairs on the lower level.
Those six panels of glass were hurricane-proof and did fine.
Laurie Vaughn, of Interiors by Design, assisted with décor when the home was being built, so Carney brought her back after Harvey to help with a few things.
“I didn’t make too many major improvements because I loved the way everything was, so just basically recreated as much as I could,” she said.
Porcelain tile — soft beige with pale cream veining — was installed in most of the downstairs except for the master bedroom and living room, carpeted with Frieze — tightly twisted carpet — in an earthy tan shade. The conversation room and office floors are by Regal Hardwoods and have a wire-brushed finish.
The living room fireplace, bordered with a double-leaf pattern, was painstakingly restored. The impressive disk and candlesticks above the mantel were created by artist Thomas Markusen.
Twin sofas had just been reupholstered a year before Harvey, so Carney had them rebuilt and upholstered in the same pattern.
“I don’t like change, and once I like something, I’ll like it for many years,” she said.
A glass-topped pedestal table, surrounded by four skirted chairs, is arranged in front of the six panels of glass, bringing the outside in.
To the left, the kitchen and breakfast nook offer the same picturesque views. New oak cabinets with a washed blue/gray finish, Cambria quartz island and countertops, and JennAir appliances are post-Harvey. A ceramic piece on the wall is of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine, purchased on a trip to Orvieto, Italy.
Around the corner is the butler’s pantry with cabinets filled with glassware, dinnerware and a pottery collection by Texas potter Michael Obranovich.
The formal dining room with Irish cream walls has new furnishings, except for an antique tea cart that survived the storm.
A few steps away takes you to the conversation room with four chestnut leather chairs positioned around a coffee table flanked by an 1880 J & C Fischer cabinet grand piano on one side and a marble-topped Thomasville bar on the other.
“We originally had a lovely antique bar that was purchased from Eiband’s in Galveston, but it was too damaged to be saved, but we were able to restore the piano,” Carney said.
Step down and look up to admire the lighted domed ceiling, sponge painted with colors that change from blue to orange and gold, representing a sunset.
A loggia — long corridor — with six pillars lead the way to Darrell Carney’s office, the master bedroom and master bath.
“Darrell’s office is what we call the ‘Idaho room,’ since the walls pay tribute to his Idaho roots and Payette Lake,” Carney said.
The loggia’s patio doors take you outdoors where multiple areas are available to enjoy the ambience of the grounds and the sounds of nature.
The second floor with two guest rooms and bath offers a bird’s-eye view from the upper balcony.
Margaret Carney, a retired teacher, and Darrell Carney, owner of a biotech company in Galveston, both agree that the best things about their home are the natural light and the remarkable outdoor scenery.
“My hope is that Dickinson won’t be known as the town that flooded, but the town that recovered,” she said. “We know how blessed we are to be back in our home.”