Island home on the English Bayou epitomizes seaside serenity
The first thing visitors notice upon entering the island home of Emily and Brian Root is the back wall of windows and an unobstructed view of the water.
The 3,400-square-foot house is on a large lot overlooking English Bayou in Galveston. The Roots and their neighbors take full advantage of the bayou all year.
Their home and lifestyle epitomize island living.
“We spend most of our time outside and on the water,” said Emily Root, who with her husband, owns Emily’s Home Building, Remodeling and Design Services.
“You might need sunglasses inside here because I refuse to cover the windows,” she said. “We love that so much light comes in and we love our view.”
The family of six moved into the newly constructed house four years ago. They previously lived in Galveston, moved away after Hurricane Ike to the Winnie area, but spent every weekend on the island enjoying the amenities available to visitors.
“We knew we would come back,” Emily Root said. “We just love it here.”
The house, a light gray and white, has an attractive curb appeal. Climb up the 17 steps of the grand staircase and you’ll see an inviting hanging daybed swinging off in the corner. Large ferns in planters decorate the porch, giving it a welcoming look. At the double-glass doors, visitors can see inside the house. The view is the other side of the family room and the floor-to-ceiling windows and doors that lead to the back porch and the water.
“This room makes the house,” Brian Root said. “The 20-foot cathedral ceiling, the white shiplap walls, the scissor trusses, which were all hand-built. We collected photos of what we wanted, and we designed this place. It is our dream house.”
Even the wood on the walls was carefully selected. Brian wanted to see the knots in the wood, which give it a more interesting appearance, he said.
The main floor features the master bedroom suite, plus their daughter’s bedroom and the kitchen, dining and living rooms. The other bedrooms are upstairs.
Floors throughout the first-floor area are 8-inch-wide pine tongue-and-groove wood, contrasting with the ash cabinetry in the kitchen. Thick, wood open shelves hang on both sides of the custom-made stove vent. There also is a small office and half-bath tucked in the corner.
The long, wood dining table easily seats 10 people, and two matching comfortable couches of neutral color nearby are positioned in front of the ventless fireplace, giving the room a cozy feel. The mantel over the fireplace is a piece of hand-hewn reclaimed lumber from the Moody Compress & Warehouse Co. in Galveston.
One of Emily’s weaknesses is light fixtures, she said. Ceiling fans with mundane pulls, or big-box store construction grade lights, aren’t for her, she said. She prefers grandiose chandeliers and lights, made of natural materials with an incomparable look, she said. And in the bedrooms and bathrooms, she chose interesting tile for the floors — black and white designs, herringbones, zigzags and other patterns, to give each room a unique aesthetic, she said.
When building the house with so many windows, the Roots considered energy efficiency, they said. All the walls are foam-insulated, which cuts down on their electricity bills, they said.
And as much as the family loves their home, it’s the outside where most activities occur, the Roots said. The enormous porch across the entire back of the house features the only TV in the home, lots of comfortable chairs as well as a long table for outdoor dining. A pergola in the yard is perfect for table tennis tournaments, and there’s a dock for their family boat. The Roots enjoy the water all summer with recreational activities and fish at night, they said.
Because the house was designed to capitalize on the water, the family spends very little time indoors, Emily Root said.
“We can open the doors in the living room and pin them back in the spring and fall, giving us a huge open space,” she said. “We live outside as much as inside in good weather. The view is my favorite thing. But I feel bad for the people lined up in their cars on 61st Street on Sundays as they leave the island.”
Q&A with Emily Root
Emily Root, who with husband Brian, created their own island home. And through their business, Emily’s Home Building, Remodeling and Design Services, they also remodel and restore — and even save — other homes in Galveston.
Tell us about your business:
My husband and I predominantly purchase homes that are close to being condemned. We completely strip them to their bones. We get so excited just knowing what they can be after a total renovation. We also do additions, renovations and all types of home improvements for Galvestonian homeowners, as well. In addition, I do interior decorating work for clients who are needing to spruce up their homes. I love finding new lighting options, furniture and accessories so that they fall in love with their homes again. We are also very excited about opening our store front here in Galveston very soon.
What do you love most about island living?
We love the energy of the island. There are so many options for outdoor life and activities. We do feel the salt air keeps us healthy and happy. We love the history and uniqueness of the historic aspect of Galveston, as well. Most of all, we love our friendships here and we are continually meeting amazing new friends as we are digging in and discovering new bits and pieces of Galveston during our everyday work life.
What do you love most about your home?
We have lived in more homes than I would like to admit. However, this time we were able to build a house to fit our exact needs. I’m not sure if I would change anything if we were to build again. The back of our home is a wall of windows, which allows us to see the sunset that sometimes is truly amazing. I think that is my favorite part. It is also open-concept, so it allows our family to stay connected.
What is your and your family’s favorite way to relax?
I’ve been told before that I don’t know how to relax so, having family and friends over for dinner is our favorite way to relax and have fun. My husband, Brian, is an amazing cook and we both love to entertain.
What do you like to do for leisure?
Our home was built for entertaining and summertime fun. We love to play with the kids in English Bayou, tubing and taking boat rides around at sunset.
What are your favorite meals together? What do you cook?
Well, once upon a time I did cook, but I must say it’s not my favorite. Brian loves to cook, so it’s an excellent arrangement. He cooks, and goes to the grocery store, which I despise! And I clean. I would say boiling locally purchased shrimp with Maceo’s seasoning is our all-time favorite for everyone in our family.
Have you binged watched any good shows lately?
Not big TV people but, the “John Adams” series was amazing.
The last book you read?
I love all of Emily Giffin’s books. They seem to be light easy reads and allows me to easily go to sleep. Most of all, I love reading books on interior design to keep me informed and inspired.