Design Dilemma with a Heart: Full House

Six children and two adults make for a tight fit in the Simons’ Southwest Ocala home.
With a little help and a lot of heart from Custom Fabric Creations, the Simons now have a family room that has become a great room for a very big family.

Pat and Colin Simons know the true meaning of family. After raising two children of their own, the couple took in six siblings—four boys and two girls—who were in need of a loving home.

“I started with the foster care system when we lived in New Jersey,” Pat says. “Children kept coming and going from our home. I learned that I’m the type of person who forms a bond. I wanted a long-term family I could keep, care for, and love.”

A former school teacher, Pat is now a full-time mom.

“It’s a blessing when you have families who are willing to take in kids and care for them,” says Nancy Castillo of the Marion County Children’s Alliance. “I realize it’s a full load having so many to take care of. We certainly need more people like the Simons. Even with her workload, Pat is the type of person that whenever you see her, she always has a smile on her face.”


These days, Pat has plenty to smile about. What was once the Simons’ empty, drab guest house has now been turned into a cheerful, multi-purpose space for the large family. It’s a place to gather for family meals, homework, sing-a-longs, and game time. Interior decorators Suzanne Rice and Terry Popick of Custom Fabric Creations spent weeks filling the space with comfortable furniture and accessories.

Vertical-striped draperies add height to windows. A bookshelf or
other furniture piece can act as a dividing wall for a large space. An area rug
adds both warmth and color to a tiled room.

“Whenever I do something like this for someone else, it’s as much a blessing for me as it is for them,” says Suzanne. “And it wasn’t just me. I was very impressed with the community involvement for this project. Everyone we asked stepped up and was willing to donate to this deserving family.”

The end result?  A comfortable, cozy space the Simons will use on a daily basis.

Deep purple and peach hues cover the walls, contrasting nicely with the white tile flooring. A comfortable, tan leather sectional provides the perfect location for family movie night.

In one corner of the space, a large futon doubles as a bed for guests. Adjacent to the futon, a computer desk is the perfect place to pay bills and do homework.

Once the homework is done, the kids have plenty to keep them busy. A foosball table has already gotten plenty of use, and the decorative chalkboard/corkboard is ideal for leaving messages and displaying one-of-a-kind pieces of art.

“Mrs. Simons is serious about keeping all of the kids organized,” says Suzanne. “The corkboard is the perfect place to keep schedules, notes, and instructions.”

While mapping out the space, Suzanne and Terry were mindful that this talented family hosts two in-home musical concerts each year. The new family room was just large enough for the standing-room only events. A wood bookcase acts as a temporary divider in the room, separating the space into more manageable areas for a variety of family activities.

“The space is wonderful,” says Pat. “The decorators created a beautiful space for us and they really outdid themselves. We are highly appreciative and exuberant for all that we’ve received.”

Straight from the Decorator

“We have been so honored to be a part of making this family room a special and fun one for the Simons.”

 — Terry Popick and Suzanne Rice,
Custom Fabric Creations

Decorating Tips

  1. When working on a room with little wall space, paint the walls the same color as the blinds to maintain a stylish and uninterrupted look.
  2. Large rooms can be multi-functional by separating the space with bookcases and furniture.
  3. Vertical stripes on window treatments bring the eye up to accent the height of the room.

Special Thanks To:

• Unique Wholesale
• Jago Furniture
• Amusement & Billiards
• Lightsource
• Greenhouse Design
• Central Florida Paints
• Bass Brothers
• Cebert Wealth Management
• Kevin and Angela Parlato
• Robert and Christa Russ

Marion County Children’s Alliance

Since 2000, the Marion County Children’s Alliance (MCCA) has been working to ensure that all area children have a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment in which to grow.

The alliance provides the community with many valuable services including communication and coordination between agencies and individuals who work with children, assistance to parents and children when securing needed resources and services, and a voice for children with local and state representatives and agencies.

Afterschool Academy Programs include Title V and Beyond, funded by the Department of Juvenile Justice. Title V and Beyond is an academic enrichment and character development program that caters to at-risk children between the ages of seven and 15. The MCCA, with funding by the Florida Thoroughbred Charities, Inc., also provides ESOL—academic support to students who do not speak English or who are English learners. Through the United Way of Marion County, private tutoring is also available in reading, language arts, and mathematics.

To date, more than 10,000 children have been positively impacted by MCCA. Unfortunately, more help is needed. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Web site, in 2006, there were more than 4,700 reported cases of domestic violence in Marion County.

Family violence prevention is a large part of MCCA’s purpose. Through a variety of programs such as Have a Heart for Bottoms, Hands Are Not for Hurting, and One Youth/One Church, the community has the opportunity to become involved through support and donations. MCCA also hosts a variety of presentations to educate our area’s youth about teen dating violence.

To find out more about how you can help, contact the Marion County Children’s Alliance at (352) 438-5990 or visit

Want to Help?
Pat Simons is looking for a playground set for the family’s backyard. If you’re interested in donating, please reply to

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