Get inspired by a retreat on the bay that explodes with seasonal spirit and coastal charm.
All-American Style
Credit: Laurey W. Glenn / Styling Amy P. Wilson

In the dreaming days, Colene and Carl Joiner's weekend getaway was a wooded lot where they sat in white plastic armchairs (which were chained to a tree), drank wine, and admired their spectacular view.

Now that they've built the house, the seating is a little better--Adirondack chairs, sturdy rocking chairs--and the dream is reality, but the view is the same. The Joiners see clearly a future of fun-filled family celebrations and quiet evenings by the bay.

An Easterly Wind
Several years ago, the Joiners purchased a lot in Kemah, a town on Galveston Bay about an hour from their year-round home in Kingwood, Texas, a suburb of Houston. During the months before they started building their house, the couple frequently sat in the "yard" to plan the vacation retreat. Inspired by the casual beauty of Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts, where they vacation, Carl and Colene imported East Coast attitude to Texas. With vision and expertise--he is an architect; she is an interior designer--they created a home that has a Nantucket-casual feel.

Island Ideas
White cedar shingles were shipped in from Massachusetts for the home's exterior. The Joiners had the shingles painted taupe rather than let them weather to the silvery gray color seen along the East Coast. "That's a real no-no. We would be run out of Nantucket for that," Colene says, laughing. "But long-term, I prefer paint."

At a Nantucket antiques shop, the couple found weather vanes they liked. They custom ordered a copper whale weather vane for the garage roof from the artisan in Connecticut. A hand-carved personalized ship sign, made by Nantucket woodcarvers, hangs above the front door.

Nautical Notions
Inside, the seaside theme continues with a vibrant color on the walls of the kitchen and combination living-and-dining room. The color is appropriately named Aquatic Blue from the ICI Dulux Master Palette collection.

Large windows face the bay so that the view is visible from almost every room. A porthole-inspired window in the dining room looks into the sunroom to allow for views of the Kemah Boardwalk. More water-worthy touches: weathered buoys, starfish, and shells on tables and shelves and a lighthouse area rug in the sunroom.

Family Vacation
The Joiners' seven grandchildren are big fans of this home. On the Fourth of July, the family decorates the too-cute golf cart and drives to the boardwalk for the annual parade. After sunset, they have a great vantage point to watch fireworks exploding over the bay.

Even without the grandchildren there, Carl and Colene find plenty of ways to play. "We love to tootle around in our golf cart," Colene says. "We can go within five minutes of the house to six or seven restaurants and find a lot of activity."

In the evening, the couple often heads to the Adirondack chairs by the water for a light show that is no less beautiful than fireworks. "We don't get to view the sunsets from our location, but the view of the moon is incredible," Colene says. "We love to sit and watch the moonbeams on the water."

On the Boardwalk
The small town of Kemah, located on Galveston Bay, offers big fun for family getaways. The Kemah Boardwalk has amusement rides, games, dining, and shopping in a waterside setting. If you want to get close to undersea creatures, head to Stingray Reef to feed live stingrays. Visit, or call toll-free 1-877-285-3624 for more information.Sources:

Pages 86-88: Architecture by Carl Joiner, AIA, and interior design by Colene Joiner, ASID, IIDA, Joiner Partnership, Inc., Kingwood, Texas, (281) 359-6401 or; quarter board above front door by Walters & Bogdahn, (508) 228-8599; landscaping by A.J.'s Landscaping, Houston, (713) 957-0449 or; interior paint is Aquatic Blue (ICI 1297) by ICI Dulux Master Palette collection,; cedar shingles from Marine Home Center, Nantucket, Massachusetts, (508) 228-0900 or

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"All-American Style" is from the July 2006 issue of Southern Living.