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Amelia Islander

A Pristine Panorama

Jan 15, 2014 09:41AM
If you’ve traveled east on Atlantic Avenue over Egan’s Creek Greenway lately, you probably appreciate the view of the lush marsh grass blanketing the bluffs as much as Pam and Steve Simmons, who enjoy a breathtaking panorama of the marsh and the west side of Fort Clinch State Park from their Highland Drive estate.

The Simmons moved to this property 21 years ago and lived in a California ranch-style home. Around the year 2000, they began to think about a remodel, but the architect advised them that the best course of action would be to tear down the house and rebuild with a new plan. “It took us a long, long time to get used to that idea,” laughs Pam. “We feel so blessed, and we didn’t want to be wasteful, but, after a while, we realized that this decision would keep us in the place we love.” Architect Henry Price drew up the plans, and the couple unloaded the moving truck in January 2005.

Enormous windows adorn the back of the house, both upstairs and down, providing a front-row seat to a breathtaking view of Amelia Island’s natural beauty and wildlife. Steve, an avid outdoorsman, encouraged the architect to incorporate the magnificent views from the property in the design, and he enjoys the unspoiled scene from the desk in his home office just off the master suite.

Pam’s favorite decorative technique is the hand painting work by artist Christina Long, a one-time Amelia Island resident. “I had an idea to do etching in a bathroom, and when I saw Christina’s work, we began to include hand painting almost everywhere,” Pam smiles. In the downstairs guest bedroom, she accented the wall paneling and added decorative designs in two bathrooms, the foyer, and striped pearlized faux in the dining room. Pam’s favorite hand painting is probably the English garden and doll house in their granddaughters’ bedroom upstairs. “When I was a little girl, I always wanted a footed tub, but my parents were told we couldn’t have it due to drainage design. I was determined to have a traditional footed tub,” explains Pam. Christina painted a beautiful English Garden in the pocket that cradles the tub, and Pam’s chandelier from when she was a little girl is the crown jewel.

One unique design feature of the home is that the basement extends the length of the house, and comes complete with a bomb shelter! “We believe there are three homes on the island with shelters that were built shortly after the Cuban missile crisis. In our old home, you accessed it through a trapdoor in the master bedroom closet,” the couple explains. This interesting feature is just the beginning of the underground basement retreat, which includes a hallway accessing eight storage closets, allowing Pam to use one closet for each season to house her holiday décor.

Christina’s most detailed painting is the basement wall, where you almost feel as if you are sitting on the banks of Simmons Mill Pond in Georgia, where Steve grew up and the family maintains a vacation home. The cypress trees are three-dimensional, and you experience the peacefulness of the lake as you look at the mural, which features Steve’s father, T.C., fishing in his boat, and their granddaughters, Ashlyn and Annabelle, and Golden Retriever, Macy, sitting on the bridge of the dam. One can imagine how restful a nap would be on the couch in front of the painted antique storefront next to the quiet basement lake.

Perhaps the best part of the Simmons home is that it showcases what they care about most: nature, Pam’s love of the University of Florida Gators through her collection of memorabilia, and, most importantly, family. The photos of their daughters and grandchildren, the mound of toys in the corner of the childrens’ room, and the life-size doll house and cabinet of collectible dolls provide ample space for the children to laugh and make memories at their grandparents’ home. With a large kitchen and a dining area with plentiful seating, Pam and Steve can do what they do best in their beautiful home—love their family and enjoy time together—just the activities that makes their house “home.”