A Place for Family and Friends

Retirees Gregg and Ellen Winter designed their Crane Island home with friends and family in mind.

Gregg and Ellen Winter, lifelong Philadelphians, wanted their Crane Island home to be a perfect destination for their two grown daughters, Jordon and Casey, and family and friends. Not far from their sides is their beloved Labradoodle, Trey. Working closely with architect Luke Sipple of Lake and Land Studio, local builder Steve Pickett, and Amelia Island designers Gordon Kessler and Larry Johnson of Gordon & Johnson Design, they now have the home of their dreams.

As retirement approached, they considered relocating to several different areas of the country. They visited Palmetto Bluff, South Carolina. Attracted to the low-country design and lifestyle, as well as the architectural styling of Lake and Land Studio, they noted that the same architect had designed homes for Amelia Island’s Crane Island development. Familiar with Amelia Island from business visits, they made their final decision that this was the place where they wanted to retire. They appreciate the emphasis on outdoor living, the walking and biking routes, and the protection of nature, like Crane Island’s resident bald eagles.

The 3,240 square foot house opens onto Alice Park, a broad park area that faces east to the marsh and west to the Amelia River. Crane Island is a “porch community,” so there is an additional 1,251 square feet of porch space on three sides of the house, with the most prominent open porch leading to the front door.

Once inside the bright, glass-enclosed entry, the cozy, inviting main living area features hand-hewn beams and a lime-washed brick fireplace. The beams, rough-sawn lumber wall, and ceiling cladding were salvaged from a 19th-century barn sourced by the designers Gordon and Johnson and supplied by G&H Reclaims in Callahan. The 12-foot ceiling height adds drama to the impressive rustic wood-clad ceilings throughout the first floor.

Moving through the great room into the back of the house, you find the spacious, light-filled custom kitchen. The designers cleverly designed it to look like an extension of the living area, with custom cabinetry and professional-style appliances. Each drawer and cabinet in the kitchen has been designed explicitly for its contents, be it spices, silverware, or even plates.

Gregg, the “resident chef,” worked directly with the team to ensure every aspect of the kitchen would enhance the family’s and friends’ experience. The setup, combined with the dining room, outdoor kitchen, and outdoor dining room, provides an assortment of cooking and entertaining options for the couple. The centerpiece of the kitchen is the oversized dark walnut island that seats six, lighted by two dramatic bronze pendant lights with glass orbs. A rich soapstone was chosen for the perimeter counters.

Moving past a dry pantry and a stylish powder room, with a console sink and unlacquered brass fixtures, one finds an efficient and beautiful back entry/mudroom. There is a special area for Trey, the couple’s dog. The team designed a fully tiled dog wash station and designated areas for feeding, food, and supplies. The wallpaper appropriately has a pattern of dog bones.

A favorite gathering place is a side porch with a fireplace and a large TV screen, where the Philadelphia-based couple follows their beloved Eagles football team. There are four porches, including attached to the master bedroom on the second floor. A guest room and office complete the first floor.

At the top of the stairs leading to the second floor is a sitting area with a colorfully painted floor created by local artist Marie Abdullah. The Winters wanted a master bedroom that was simple and comfortable. There are no dressers or bureaus, just a comfortable couch and chairs. Clothing, linens, and other necessities are stored in carefully designed areas adjoining the bedroom, including a large 8-foot x 8-foot custom-designed walnut built-in with drawers and additional hanging space. The owners’ bath includes a pair of custom vanities, a walk-in shower, and a step-in tub.

A bunk room on the second floor with its large window seat is ready for grandchildren and now works for guests. It overlooks the rear courtyard and carriage house. The carriage house has a finished apartment ready for guests and family. The bunk room and workout area are concealed by wormy chestnut barn sliding doors.

The decor is deliberately different from the Winters’ home in Philadelphia. They wanted a completely different look and are pleased with the furnishing and decorating details that Gordon Kessler and Larry Johnson have incorporated into their home.

A house truly made for entertaining, the Winters look forward to many visits from their two college-age daughters, Casey and Jordon, family, and friends.