Creating A Vintage Look    

Adding Old Time Charm to a Modern Day House

By Donna Gable Hatch
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On September 13, 2008, Hurricane Ike made landfall over Galveston Island as a powerful Category 2 hurricane packing sustained winds nearing 110 mph. When the storm hit at 2:10am, it brought with it a wall of water more than 13 feet high, a storm surge like that of a Category 4 hurricane.

In the morning light, the full fury of the hurricane was revealed. The island was decimated. More than 24,165 structures suffered damage, and many homes were uninhabitable or completely destroyed.

But just as it had after the Great Storm of 1900 and every hurricane since, the Oleander City rebuilt—in part due to the assistance of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The Hurricane Ike Impact Report, a compilation of original research of more than 17 federal agencies, offices and programs issued on December 8, 2008, estimated that 20 percent of the 10,747 homes that suffered major damage would likely be abandoned. Furthermore, owners of renteroccupied, single-family properties were presumed less likely to rebuild. As a result, all five judges in the hardest hit counties of Galveston, Harris, Chambers, Orange, and Jefferson signed waiver letters authorizing FEMA to place modular homes in the 100-year floodplain.

One such house is located at 5022 Avenue Q. It was purchased in mid-August 2019 by Valiant Investment Properties, Inc., with plans to modify the house to embody a traditional historic Galveston property. Valiant Investment Properties, which served as both investor and contractor on the Avenue Q project, has renovated approximately 10 properties in Galveston since 2018.

“I believe when FEMA designed these houses, they had some historical intent as they are similar styles to both shot gun and craftsman styles. At the end of the day they are ‘cookie cutter’ houses,” says Ralph Velasquez, who owns Valiant Investment Properties with his wife, Renae Velasquez.

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“This house was meant to be a shot gun style house,” Ralph says of the Avenue Q address. “When we saw it, we knew we wanted it to look like a New Orleans-style shot gun. This style is present within the historic district of Galveston.” “We added a double front porch with historic trim detail to the exterior and painted it an inviting blue color,” Ralph explains.

The house is only 14 feet in width, so inside, the couple opened up the main living area to make it an open-concept floorplan. “We added beautiful bead board ceilings to the dining, living and kitchen area,” he continues. “We purchased historic items from Galveston Antique Warehouse to add to the home, such as columns and an antique phone nook. We bought a dresser from The Sunflower Bakery and repurposed it as a bathroom vanity.” The other two bathrooms also received repurposed dressers from Alvin Antique Mall, and the master bathroom has a barn-style door made from the original door of a 100-year-old house Ralph and Renae had previously renovated.

“Since newer homes do not have infamous shiplap, we added a cedar shiplap wall to the master as well as a custom shiplap vent hood,” Ralph says. “All hardware was replaced with something more age-appropriate.”

From start to the finish, the project took nine weeks. Once an assembly-line house, 5022 Avenue Q became a showplace—and within six months, they had a buyer. “I lived in New Orleans for two years and loved the homes there, especially shotgun homes,” says Donna Adams, who completed the move into the house the last week of May. “From the outside, this home had all that charm, and when you stepped inside, you got to see even more; the lighting, tile work, and small details really make this home unique and special. There was nothing cookie-cutter about this home.”

Adams proudly offers a tour of her new residence. “When you walk up the porch steps, you are greeted with an inviting door that has a beautiful anchor wreath to bring all the outside details together. Immediately upon entering, you notice the faux wood tile and the beautiful lighting fixtures that illuminate the long shotgun hallway with beautiful shadow details through the crystals,” she describes. “This is an open concept home so entertaining and conversing will be easy. Separating the living and dining room are two older baluster posts that have been repurposed; they add a unique charm to the home and helps break up the space,” Donna says.

The kitchen features thoughtful details like stainless-steel appliances, a beverage cooler, and above the gas stove, a custom hood vent and the pot filler.

Going down the hallway, the first of three full bathrooms is to the left. At the very back of the home on the first floor, two beautiful French doors open to a potential workout room, office space, or a kids’ playroom. On the second floor, there are two bedrooms with large closets and the second full bathroom, as well as the master bedroom with shiplap walls and the barn door that leads to the master bath. The penny tile combined with subway tile makes the master shower a focal point in the bathroom, accented by a raindrop shower head. All the bathrooms have repurposed dressers for raised sinks, and each is unique to every bathroom.

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From the second-floor balcony, there is a view over midcity straight to the San Luis Hotel, a 32-acre, beachfront hotel and spa resort. “I think when you look at the balcony that was created during the renovation, and all the intricate trim work, you see old Galveston come out,” Adams says. “This home is all about those small details.”

Ralph Velasquez said that is just the kind of reaction he and his wife/business partner had hoped to see. “To my knowledge, we are one of the first investors to take on the challenge to add historic character and charm to a ‘FEMA Ike’ house. I will add, every new FEMA Ike house listing that comes up gets forwarded to us,” he says.

“Think of us as the people who can make these homes look historical. We hope it isn’t a one and done but we will see. We’d love to try our hand at a craftsman-style FEMA Ike house, as those are our favorites.”

For more information about Valiant Investment Properties, Inc., visit