The best part of Darren and Heidi Seigel’s home is location. It backs up to a canal that leads to Galveston Bay and faces a nature preserve, allowing the family to watch the sea life come alive before their eyes every day.

“We can see the ducks and their babies, and watch the area change throughout the year from our porches,” Heidi said. “And we can hear a lot of bird noise in the mornings, including the nearby peacocks.”

They built their 3,500-square-foot house in Lafitte’s Cove 17 years ago and moved to Galveston from Manhattan Beach, California. Heidi’s mom had attended medical school at the University of Texas Medical Branch and lives on Galveston Island as well. Heidi and her family frequently vacationed in Galveston and finally decided to make the move to the Texas Gulf Coast, she said. Their three children, Noa, 17, Zane, 21 and Quincy, 25, all grew up in this house, which is a perfect springboard for the coastal lifestyle and outdoor activities the family embraces.

From their boat dock, they frequently swim and play in the water, taking turns jumping off a swing or the roof of the boathouse, paddling on boards down the canal or taking the wave runners out of the canal and into the bay. Darren moved his workplace from downtown to a home office at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, moving into a former guest bedroom. His passion is riding the Jet Ski and he likes to makes trips around Galveston Island, which takes several hours, when you include fuel stops and lunch. Darren had been hesitant to work from home, but after a year, he wonders why he didn’t do it sooner, he said.

The large house, with its wraparound porches and decks, gives the family an extra 2,000 square feet of living space. They have created “zones” outside: a special place for sunrise viewing and coffee; another for cocktails and sunsets or yoga and exercise; dining and entertaining; and as an outdoor shower and TV.

“We use all of this space — a lot,” Heidi said.

Famous restaurant chain Whataburger, seeking to capture the island lifestyle, even made a commercial at the house about five years ago.

The heart of the house is on the main floor. A large, open kitchen with an oversized island is where eating, chatting, homework and hanging out happens. The dining “room” is contiguous and overlooks one of the porches, with floor-to-ceiling windows and doors. The dark floors are made of eucalyptus, and the walls are painted a soft, light color contrasting with the dark granite countertops. The large living room, with its generous fireplace and comfortable chairs, is on the other side of the great room. The area is flooded with natural light and interesting art, creating a relaxing space.

The first floor also is where Zane’s bedroom is, as well as the utility room and Darren’s office. Upstairs are three bedrooms for Noa, Quincy and their parents. Noa’s bedroom faces the nature preserve and Quincy has a view of the canal. Heidi and Darren’s bedroom looks out onto the canal, and they spend time on their adjacent deck, enjoying the constant breeze off the water, they said. The cathedral ceiling in the bedroom makes it feel more spacious than it actually is. A collection of hats and head coverings decorate one wall.

From the canal behind their house, they hop on their boat to visit friends, relatives or dine at waterfront restaurants. They frequently kayak in the area as well. And they have mapped out a 3-mile, 4-mile and 5-mile trail through the neighborhood for walks or runs, as well as longboat skateboarding along the smooth surface street. Living in their quiet neighborhood is so much easier than their lives in California, they said.

“Everything is easier here,” Heidi said. “Everything is more accessible, less traffic and less expensive. It makes life easier.” 

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