By Karin Fabry • Photos By John Jernigan
Location is everything. Bo and Sally Williams agree. When they decided it was time to build their cozy dream home, one thought kept recurring.
“We didn’t want to leave the southeast area of Ocala we had come to love,” Sally says.
Well, they didn’t venture far.
“When it came time to build, we actually bought property that was only a block away from our current home at the time,” Sally continues.
While location is everything, family is what’s most important — another sentiment that rings true with the Williams family. With all three children and seven grandchildren living in Ocala, the Williams clan is a close-knit family.
“As a matter of fact, our daughter and her husband bought our old home,” Sally says. “Now our grandchildren are being raised in the home where we raised our children. It’s wonderful.”
One block over, the Williams’ new 2,600 square foot home is situated on a discreet, tree-shaded, corner lot. The home is both charming and inviting. Neatly manicured landscaping and soft grass grows alongside the meandering walkway. A wide front porch, flanked by oversized windows, welcomes family and guests coming to visit.
Making A House A Home
One step into the foyer and your senses come alive. The vibrant two-toned red wallpaper adds a sense of richness to the narrow space. A fresh, spicy scent hints to a nearby burning candle. An antique buffet that once belonged to Sally’s great-grandmother provides the perfect display area for Bo’s collection of heavy Waterford crystal. Sally notes that the narrow foyer was designed especially to house the oversized buffet.
“Many of the furniture pieces throughout the home are antiques and family heirlooms,” Sally says. “Family is very important to both of us and having these pieces on display is what makes our house our home.”
It’s obvious from touring the Williams’ home that comfort and elegance were their main design elements. To the right of the entry is the couple’s French country kitchen. The room features intricately carved bisque cabinetry that’s accented by a deep green granite countertop. A rooster serving tray that once belonged to Sally’s grandmother served as the inspiration for the kitchen’s décor.
“I always loved this tray,” Sally says as she picked up the tray to admire it, “I knew from the beginning that I would focus my design around roosters,” she says. And she did. A wrought iron rooster chandelier picked up in Atlanta was the perfect addition to complete the space. Other rooster accents include a vase, cookie jars, and even framed artwork. As we leave the room, Sally points out several pieces of colorful artwork created by one of her grandsons. Each piece is framed and proudly displayed.
“He’s so talented at such a young age,” Sally says with a smile. “Who knows? Maybe he’ll grow into an artist.”
Focus On Family
Throughout the Williams’ home, personal and family mementos are prominently displayed. One wall features gold-framed wedding invitations of past family weddings. One reads that the ceremony will take place September 21, 1899. The great room, where Sally and Bo spend much of their time, is no exception and houses several more family relics. A quick glimpse around the room reveals framed photos, bowls and serving platters that belonged to Sally’s grandmother, and a collection of geodes and unique rocks Bo and Sally collected through the years.
“This is my favorite space in the house,” Sally says. “I just love the feeling I get when I’m sitting in the great room.”
A pair of French doors and 10-foot ceilings make the room very light and airy. One of the focal points is a large, custom-designed fireplace. Layers of white crown molding are accented by a patterned trim, giving the fireplace a very ornate appearance. A pair of candle sconces and several potted ivy plants adorn the oversized mantle.
“All of my plants are real,” Sally proudly says. “I try to keep as many fresh flowers and plants in the house as I can.” A quick glimpse around the room reveals a wide variety of houseplants, some in terra cotta pots, others in intricate stands, all green and thriving.
Adjacent to the fireplace is an elaborately designed built-in entertainment center. It’s the perfect piece to both hide the big-screen television and to showcase some of Bo and Sally’s many collectibles. A variety of impressive rocks, knick-knacks, and family photographs grace the shelves.
While the electronics in the room may be state of the art, the furnishings are stately antiques. Two wingback chairs feature a playful, bold pattern. But don’t think for a moment that any room in the Williams’ home is off limits.
“We use all the furniture,” Sally laughs. “Even the dogs and cat. I think a house is meant to be lived in and enjoyed.”
A Secret Garden
One of Sally’s greatest joys lies just beyond the French doors of the great room. Walking out to the extensive back porch, the scent of jasmine drifts through the air as the warm Florida sun envelops the backyard.
“I’ve worked very hard to get my garden the way I like it,” Sally says. “I always have several projects going at once.”
Sally says she and Bo spend much of their time on their back porch, talking, reminiscing, or just enjoying nature. Just beyond the covered area and surrounded by intricately stacked rocks is Sally’s flower garden. Snapdragons and annuals in every color of the rainbow add a vibrant splash of color to the lush green yard.
“It’s great to be out here in the late afternoon,” Sally notes, “once the sun has moved on and the temperature has cooled down a bit.”
The outdoor living space of the Williams’ home is detailed and complete — making it a picturesque extension of their beautiful home. A collection of white wicker furniture (of course that used to belong to Sally’s grandmother) shows the signs of age and weather. Large hurricane lamps and a wrought iron candelabra add a touch of ambient lighting at night. An unusual outdoor feature is the angled skylights that penetrate the covered porch.
“Bo and I learned that trick living in the mountains,” Sally says. “When you have an outdoor ceiling it can make the interior of your home seem dark. By angling the skylights light flows through the ceiling and into the house.”
As we sat and chatted, Sally busily pruned newly purchased marigolds. Planting the bright orange and yellow flowers will no doubt be added to Sally’s never-ending to-do list.
As I prepared to leave the Williams’ home, the phone rang. One of Sally and Bo’s children called to make arrangements for an upcoming family dinner.
“It’s just so nice that we all live so close together,” Sally says. “We love spending time with the kids and grandkids.”
Yes, location may be important, but family is everything.