By William Thrift
Photography by John Wrightenberry
Back in 1981, Pam Amick’s father, Bruce Shealy, bought about nine acres of land on Windward Point at Lake Murray. The land came with a ramshackle house (circa 1900) that the family used as a weekend getaway – no telephone, no air conditioning, just the wild serenity of overgrown shore and beaten paths down to the water where the inner tubes and john boats awaited. Eventually, Mr. Shealy’s children started families of their own. Such bonds were created during those times on the lake that he decided to split the parcel into individual lots so each family member could have their own lakeside retreat (or home, as it turned out). Mr. Shealy had the land surveyed and each new lot was given a number. Numbers were then drawn from a hat, and each new owner began plans for building their homes.
In 1985, Pam and her first husband, Terry, built a brick home on their lot and raised their three children there. Meanwhile, Pam’s best friend from Columbia High School, Sarah, had married her high school sweetheart, Carl Amick. Over the years, Pam and Sarah remained close friends through their bunko group. When Sarah was diagnosed with cancer in 1987, they used their network of friends for support during her long, ensuing battle with the disease. But Pam would also need support when her husband Terry was stricken with cancer in 1997, passing away soon thereafter.
Pam coped with her loss by helping others who were struggling with grief. She took prayer requests for Sarah from Carl and sent them out to her group. Then Sarah succumbed to the disease in 2006. During the few years that Pam and Carl were dealing with their own grief, they kept in touch mostly via email. Eventually, God enabled a new relationship to kindle between them, and they were married in 2010.
New opportunities arose. Carl had a nice house in Spence’s Plantation. Pam lived in her home on Windward Point. The question became: who moves in with whom? The new couple talked and prayed, and then decided that Pam’s would be the home. But much of the past still lingered there, and if the new couple was to truly start anew, they would need to make it their own.
Funny that it all started with something as simple as closet space. When Carl moved in, it was obvious that the home needed to be updated to accommodate the modern accoutrements of clothes and stuff and the need for generous space. Carl works for a machine tool company, so he had access to an Auto CAD (computer aided design) system. He loaded the original plans for the home and began tinkering with new layouts – moving a wall, or relocating a door – eventually redesigning the master suite and an adjacent bedroom to give them ample closet space and a full laundry room. The bathroom was expanded to allow for a large double sink and space for a tub and separate shower. Carl designed other parts of the house too, collaborating with the construction crew on all aspects.
While Carl was busy with the layout, Pam went to work on the details. One of the contractors bidding on the renovation arrived one day accompanied by designer, Pam Trussell. Pam and Pam remembered each other through a former family relation and immediately hit it off. They became the team that would outfit the new spaces of the home with cabinets, tiles, window treatments, hardware, paint, and other things.
Ms. Trussell has always been interested in interior design. After obtaining an interior design certificate at Midlands Tech, she dove right into the business, winning several awards for decorating homes at the Home Builders Association’s Parade of Homes. This kick started her business and she got involved with several builders who needed her expertise. Over the years, she’s created a network of partners and resources from home builders and contractors to designers and suppliers of all types of home furnishings. She is currently partnered with Marty Rae’s in Lexington.
Upon meeting Carl and determining that his taste in décor is traditional, Ms. Trussell tailored her design choices to mesh Pam’s cottage-chic with Carl’s traditional. Meanwhile, Pam and Carl selected Pat Dunbar of Dunbar Builders to do the renovation, and things got underway.
Older living spaces tend to be compartmentalized – each area of a home being separated from the rest. Modern spaces are of a more open design. So the first thing to go was the wall between the living and dining rooms. A former screened porch was incorporated into the home at one end of the kitchen, creating almost a “Florida room” that the Amicks dubbed their “gathering room” where friends and family tend to congregate.
Ms. Trussell spent a lot of time getting to know the Amicks and talking about things like the way a door may swing (limiting wall space), colors for the newly defined rooms, and other aspects.
She recalls working with Pam to decide on a fabric for window treatments in the gathering room, and then taking that little swatch of fabric with them whether they were picking out furniture, or paint colors, or even flooring. For a while, she and Pam concentrated on lighting, making Carl a little nervous. But in the end, he warmed up to the new lighting selections.
Ms. Trussell strived to satisfy both of their tastes, suggesting glazed cabinets in the kitchen to give Pam the “cottage look.” The dining and living rooms were adorned in a more traditional furniture style to reflect Carl’s sensibility. But the fireplace was re-done in stack stone for a cottage feel. Wall art and accessories are a mixture of cottage and traditional styles.
With the house more open, Ms. Trussell used lightly tinted ceilings, which both maximized the illusion of height and helped pull the rooms together.
It also accentuated the trim and molding, enhancing the traditional feel. She was careful to go over paint selections with Pam at mid-day saying, “I don’t like to do paint colors on a cloudy day.”
Just like the memories of loved ones that linger and become a part of the new spirit that emerges from grief, so the Amicks have seen fit to re-use some of the original elements of Pam’s home that has now become “Pam and Carl’s” home. In one section of the full basement, Carl created a large “man cave” area where he keeps tools and other manly things in the bank of cabinets that were once the original kitchen cabinets. Pam has a craft room, the centerpiece of which is the original kitchen island. She has also repurposed the carpeting and built-in cabinetry from the den. Ms. Trussell suggested that they use paint with a fleck aggregate to hide dirt and imperfections in the basement’s concrete floor.
With the hard part of the renovation complete, Pam and Carl have moved into the new space and are slowly adding personal touches that reflect their new life together. Their aim was to create a new space, where friends and family could see and appreciate their new love for one another. Neither of them has had to make drastic changes in their personal tastes in order to fit into the new home. Instead, together they have embarked on a journey that intertwines their lives and lifestyles. It’s not a traditional cottage, and it’s not a traditional home. It’s something new and unique to the Amicks – a home built for two.