Tiki Island family transforms a former racquetball court into a stunning home
Old houses often have interesting and unusual back stories. But newer houses also can harbor some fascinating tales, if you ask the right questions.
Julie and Bart Moore didn’t have to ask. Neighbors in their canal community in Tiki Island had a story to tell. The three-story, 5,000-square-foot house where the Moores live once was an indoor racquetball court — three stories high with an observation deck surrounding the court.
From the street, the house displayed windows and doors. But that was merely window dressing. They were fake and only on the facade. When the Moores bought the house in 2018, they knew they had some serious work ahead of them. Besides exterior changes — painting, adding windows and doors — they needed to renovate the house to accommodate their family and their lifestyle. Ultimately, they hired Paul Brockman of Paul Brockman Interior Design to help them revamp the house according to their specifications. Contractor Jimmy Wisner in Galveston did most of the work and Bruce Johnson was the architect.
“The team understood our vision,” Julie said. “We made decisions together.”
The Moores had been going to Tiki Island for years. They owned another house in the canal community and Brad’s parents had a place on the island for two decades. His family has deep roots in Galveston. His great uncle, David Moore, was the artist of the 10-foot-high bronze Storm Memorial Statue on Seawall at 53rd Street in Galveston, erected in memory of the more than 6,000 men, women and children who died in the 1900 Storm.
The Tiki Island home renovation was a year-long effort, but worth it. The house, on five lots, is a show place — but not a “don’t-touch-this” or “don’t-sit-here” kind of house. The Moores’ two pre-teen children comfortably lounge around inside and play with their Rhodesian ridgeback dog, Costa, or watch TV from either of the two family rooms.
“It’s big, but we use all of it,” Julie said. “There is no wasted space in this house.”
After the COVID-19 outbreak, the family moved full time from Houston to Tiki Island for a better quality of life. The children, Avery, 12, and brother Trace, 11, attend school in Galveston. A third adult child, Bailey, lives in South Carolina.
“There is a whole different vibe here on Tiki than in Houston,” she said. “I wanted our kids to be able to play outside and enjoy themselves.”
When visitors enter the house from the large front porch, they’re immediately in the living-kitchen-dining room and bar. Floor-to-ceiling windows along the back of the house open to gigantic decks — three of them — that give the house a fresh and airy feeling. Original owners also wanted an open feel to the house, creating an indoor, three-story-high racquetball court and observation deck that accommodated tournaments inside. There were no bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchen or dining room. It was all open. Subsequent owners had upgraded the house substantially, adding personal spaces and rooms but left the multi-story opening in the center of the house.
After the renovation in the living area, the Moores installed a white-coffered ceiling to give depth to the room and furnished it with a large L-shaped couch, a few comfortable chairs and a durable rug on the engineered wood floor. A wall of bookcases and a large TV create a relaxed feeling. The kitchen of all white cabinets is the heart of the home, and a gigantic white porcelain island anchors the room, where most guests tend to congregate. Nearby is Julie’s “day office,” a brightly decorated, orange wallpapered nook where she keeps papers, files, reminders and a laptop. It’s a cheery place where clutter that usually ends up in the kitchen can be stored away.
A few more steps into the space is the bar, with seating for five and a unique aesthetic. Brockman suggested installing sheets of translucent onyx with special LED lights below it to give the bar and the area a glow. And perhaps one of the most striking areas in the house is the small powder room adjacent to the bar. It’s covered in a blue and white wallpaper.
The dining room area, with a round table that can comfortably seat 10, can open up onto the deck with the folding glass doors.
“The idea here was to bring the outside in and the inside out,” Brockman said.
The guest bedroom suite behind the staircase still has the original racquetball court floor. They kept it as a reminder of the house’s history.
On the next level is another comfortable TV room and an area where the children can work on crafts or do homework. Trace’s bedroom is designed with black walls and framed sports memorabilia and Avery chose furnishings more feminine in Tiffany Blue. Each has its own large bathroom and Avery has access to a front deck. A large workout room/laundry area has one of the best views in the house, capturing the intercoastal waterway in the distance.
“I do a lot of laundry and I decided if I was going to be here folding, I wanted a nice view,” Julie said. “So, we put in a window so I could look out while I am working.”
The third level of the house is the couple’s retreat featuring a spacious bedroom with a larger office and a comfortable sitting room for quiet time or reading. Their large bathroom includes “floating” cabinets, porcelain and marble fixtures and unusual textures, including another example of the translucent onyx, this time as a lighted shower wall with an organic green and brown design.
“Up here, it is all for us,” said Julie, noting the massive closets with the span of drawers filling one room, a wall of hats and head coverings and numerous cubbyholes for shoes and boots.
And as nice as the house is inside, the outside also is impressive. The couple erected a deck that tops the third floor of the house — almost a widow’s walk — with 360-degree views of Tiki Island, Galveston, Texas City and Harborwalk, a coastal community on West Bay.
“Really, it’s all about the views,” she said.
There’s also a deep swimming pool, a one-story pool house, a private boat launch, outdoor basketball court and lush gardens surrounding the home.
“I love my bedroom suite, but the thing I love the most is my kids have a place to run around and be safe here,” Julie said. “I realize this house restoration was a great undertaking and we had a vision. This one may have stretched the bandwidth, but we are glad we didn’t tear it down — we just rearranged everything.”