August 1, 2019
Clients in Houston were looking for the perfect vacation home in which to gather with family and friends in nearby Galveston. Once they had their beach-front lot, they hired designer Sandy Lucas, founding partner of Lucas Eilers Design Associates, and someone with whom they had already worked with on three other projects.
Lucas teamed up with architect Michael Dreef of EGA and builder Doug LeBoeuf of LeBoeuf Homes to create the ideal retreat from the city – one that was both well designed and functional. Through weekly client meetings and presentations during the design development stage, the homeowners were able to convey to the designer exactly what they wanted out of their new home.
Making the most of the stunning views and opening the living spaces to one another were two of the main goals. Another was to accommodate their aging parents – who live with them in Houston – which was achieved through the installation of an elevator that reaches all three levels, grab bars and a wide turning radius in the powder room and flooring surfaces that are walker friendly.
A Kitchen for Many
This space would be all about entertaining large groups and providing enough room for the family to work together. Lucas installed two islands – one for cooking and prep and one with a seating area for casual dining and a place to work on crafts. The two islands also provide the storage necessary for a kitchen with limited upper cabinets. A large dining table with a zinc countertop and an iron base fulfills more seating needs in the open plan.
“The second island is also a great space for a second cook in the kitchen because it’s usually all-hands on deck when meals are being prepared,” said the designer. “The range can accommodate two turkeys for Thanksgiving, and having two dishwashers allows for easy cleanup after a party.”
Lucas chose soapstone for the perimeter countertops and the working island, and the other island features a lighter raw concrete. She chose two different materials to give each of the islands its own feel.
It was important to the clients to have ample windows in the kitchen to bring the outdoors in and fill it with natural light. A double-hung window on the right of the space opens onto an exterior ledge in the outdoor dining porch so that people standing on either side can serve food and drinks back and forth.
According to Lucas, the color and material palette came from the project surroundings, such as the warmer hues of the sun, cool blues of the sea and sky and soft, sandy neutrals. To stay in tune with the historic architecture of Galveston, she chose reclaimed brick for the kitchen backsplash.
“All the walls – and even the hood – are wrapped in shiplap, which gives durability and warmth to the space,” said Lucas.
Because of the home’s location, the original plan for the flooring was to use a vinyl or tile product that simulates real wood. The designer eventually chose an engineered, antique French oak because it has a softer, warmer feel and finish that can be imitated but not reproduced in vinyl or tile products.
The open-rafter ceilings are stained gray with recessed cable lighting in between. Also included in the lighting plan are lanterns over the dining table, pendants over the island and sconces over the kitchen windows.
Bathing by the Sea
For the master, the clients wanted a light, airy, open space with colors that also depict those of the sun, ocean and sky. Since it is on the main floor, the colors chosen are compatible with the living spaces on that level.
“In this home, each bath has a different concrete patterned tile for the wainscot and backsplash,” said Lucas, and explained that she used concrete tiles instead of wallpaper because of the humidity. “This tile is another element that helped us decide on the colors for this bathroom.”
The clients didn’t want a tub in the master, which paved the way for a large, walk-in shower. The space offers ample light from a high window and a generous built-in bench.
To stay in tune with the low-maintenance vibe necessary for a beach house, Lucas chose porcelain tile for the floors and quartz countertops. To make the most of the ceiling height – 11 feet – she installed linen towers on either side of the sinks, as well as custom mirrors.
The sconces provide functional lighting on either side of the custom mirrors and over the sinks. According to Lucas, the white linen shades allow for higher-wattage bulbs, while keeping the light at eye level soft.
The double vanity offers ample storage below, and a drawer in the middle pulls up to reveal and makeup area. A separate water closet and a balcony off the master bath complete the amenity list for this special space.
“Months of rainy weather in the early stages of construction doubled the projected timeline,” said Lucas. “Because it is a front-row beach location, there were many obstacles to overcome with wind engineering and the selection of anything that could rust, as everything rusts at the beach.”
The designer chose copper and solid-brass light fixtures and hardware, which added to the projected budget.
“Using these solid marine-grade materials was an upfront but long-term investment for the client by cutting out the constant expense of having to replace inexpensive fixtures and fittings that would corrode in the salt air,” she explained.
Because the clients wanted the living areas to be one cohesive space, the designer, who usually likes to create a separate bar/breakfast area in her kitchens, need to make this part of the action. She says including that area in the main space can cause a traffic jam in the kitchen when too many people are in there at once, but this one is large enough to accommodate it without issue.
Green building practices were used throughout construction of the beach-front home, according to the designer, who said her firm is always cognizant of being as green and energy-efficient as possible.
The project includes reclaimed antique brick for the kitchen backsplash, low VOC paints and energy-efficient lighting and windows. The builder was pivotal in finding the perfect mix of insulating the house, which is not inhabited all year long, keeping it protected from the elements and also providing the ventilation needed so that the structure can still breathe.
“To complete the most successful project possible, my clients and I set out an agenda and set goals during each meeting,” said Lucas. “We shared Pinterest boards and visited showrooms – it was all about team communication.”
Designer: Sandy Lucas, Lucas Eilers Design Assoc.
Architect: Michael Dreef, EGA
Builder: Doug LeBoeuf, Leboeuf Homes
Photographer: Julie Soefer
Cabinets: Custom by LeBoeuf Homes/Ronnie Adams Carpentry
Cabinet Hardware: Water Street Brass Hardware
Countertops: Caesarstone & Walker Zanger
Flooring: Custom Floors Unlimited
Lighting: Circa Lighting, Nora Lighting & The Urban Electric Co.
Microwave Drawer: Sharp
Flooring: Walker Zanger
Lighting: Lighting Trea & The Urban Electric Co.
Mirrors: National Arts Vanity Mirrors
Shower Tile: Daltile & Walker Zanger
Vanity Backsplash: Alkusari
Vanity Countertop: Caesarstone
Vanity Hardware: Ashley Norton Hardware & Newport Brass