Perfectly Planned for the Simpsons by Robert Marlin

Originally from Waterville, Ohio, John Simpson
spent his career working as a marketing executive
in the energy sector. “I always wanted to live near
the water,” says John, “so, when it came time to retire,
finding a place on the water was a priority.” During his
nearly thirty-seven years with Marathon Oil, his career
took him to various places, eventually landing a position
in Houston. It was while living in Houston that he met his
wife Shelley, a Tyler native. “We met in a Bible study class at
Second Baptist and volunteered together at the Star of Hope
Homeless Shelter,” Shelley recalls. Her career was divided
between corporate (Manpower) and non-profit (Yellowstone
Academy) work during her twenty-three years in Houston.
“We’ve been married for eighteen years.”

While living in Houston, the couple frequently
came to East Texas to visit Shelley’s family. “It was
during one of those trips that we saw a billboard
advertising lots on Lake Palestine. As we crossed
over the bridge on Highway 155, we talked about
investigating the Brown’s Landing subdivision,”
John remembers. “Long story short, we found
a piece of land on the waterfront that we liked.
We bought it in 2014, thinking that we would build
a home there one day.” It was during the time frame
from 2015-2016 that many of the energy companies
in Houston were having layoffs. “I got caught in the
third round of layoffs at Marathon,” John says. “That
spurred our plans to start building on our land.”

For three years, the Simpsons attended the Tyler Area
Builders Association Parade of Homes™ to get ideas for the
home they wanted and to meet builders in the area. John
remembers the day he met Eddie Clark in 2016, “On the
last weekend of the Parade—we were hot and tired, near the
end of the day—there was a house built by Eddie Clark we
wanted to see. Eddie was sitting at the table taking tickets
when we arrived. Bear in mind, we had been through a lot of
homes, but when we walked in, it immediately hit us that this
house was 90% of what we were looking for. We struck up a
conversation with Eddie and told him we had a waterfront lot
in Brown’s Landing. He told me to shoot him the dimensions
of the lot and he could show us what might be possible. The
following January I called Eddie. That’s how we started.
Eddie introduced us to Ryan Phillips, a designer he works
with who asked a million questions about our lifestyle and
how we spent our time. At that first meeting I was convinced
that Ryan was the designer we needed.” At Eddie’s suggestion,
the boat house was built first, which gave more time to work
with Phillips on the design of the house.

Many of the suggestions Eddie made during the construction
phase either improved on the design or simply helped save
money on the project. “I’ll give you a couple of examples. One
was to eliminate the upstairs sitting porch we had planned.
Eddie said that most people never used it if they had a goodsized patio downstairs. It made sense and allowed more space for
my upstairs man cave. Another was during the framing process.
Eddie asked where we wanted the microwave, explaining that
most clients installed it in the center island. We wanted it at
eye level. He suggested getting rid of the door to the pantry,
opening up that space in the kitchen, and having the microwave
in that area. Again, it was a suggestion that made sense and
accomplished another goal of ours, which was having more
open spaces in the home.

Shelley’s study overlooks the lake. Two
more windows were planned for that
room, but the view would have been of the
neighbor’s pool equipment. Eddie pointed
out that it was not necessary because she
already had such a great view of the lake.
Closing in that wall would eliminate noise
coming from the pool equipment and save
the expense of two additional windows.
“That’s why we liked working with Eddie.
He took time to get to know us and he
understands how we want to live. After
living here for nearly a year, we are really
glad we took his suggestions because
he was right, we are much happier with
the changes he suggested,” Shelley says.
Throughout the house are touches that
give the home more character and improve
traffic flow from one area to another. For
instance, architectural details throughout
the house such as wide baseboards and
crown molding. Nearly every room has
a view of the lake and the windows let in
natural light throughout. Cove lighting also
helps keep the home bright and cheerful
after dark. “The well-thought-out design
means no space is wasted. Cabinets in the
laundry room, closets, the butler’s pantry
and kitchen provide extra storage space.”

“With the exception of the guest
bedrooms, we use every room in the
house every day,” says John. “Instead
of many rooms, we opted for larger
rooms. The open floor plan makes the
house more practical for daily living.
As we make new friends, this house
will be perfect for entertaining.” The
Simpsons appreciated how Eddie
planned a week into the schedule
for meeting with many of the
subcontractors and suppliers before the
construction started. That way, they
were able to decide in advance about
what type flooring they wanted, colors,
hardware, doors, windows and fixtures.
“We had a wish list and Eddie gave us a
quote based on that,” Shelley explains,
“and then he also gave a second quote
with deviations from our list to give us
options based on pricing.”

The house includes a master bedroom, two guest rooms and two
studies (hers is downstairs and his is upstairs). Each bedroom and
each study have a walk-in closet (his includes a bath). There is
also a half bath and powder room off the kitchen. The floor plan
transitions from one area of the house to another with a natural
flow. The public areas of the house are open, with windows that
make the beauty of the outdoors an integral part of the lifestyle
the Simpsons enjoy.

The master bedroom is designed for privacy and comfort.
The high ceiling is mounted with a cove bordered by elegant
woodwork. The cove lighting provides intimacy, augmented
when necessary by recessed lighting to bathe the room in
artificial light when natural light from outside is not available.
The bathroom is designed for pampering and luxury. There is
both a large walk-in shower, complete with seat and handheld
sprayer, and an oversized bathtub. His and her vanities are
practical and include plenty of storage space.

“This house was planned to be as maintenance-free as possible. We
decided to install a metal roof because it should last fifty years. We
have foam insulation in the attic area that eliminates noise from
rain on the roof. The insulation and double-paned windows help
conserve energy,” says John. Shelley adds, “The interior was planned
to be timeless. Cheri Rome from Interiors by Cheri in Whitehouse
was a big help to me. We chose things that will hopefully not
appear dated fifteen years from now. The hardware, lighting and
accessories are all chosen more for personal comfort and utility as
opposed to making a showplace.”

The exterior of the house is brick, except for an upstairs dormer
which is stucco. The small amount of trim is hardy board, the only
thing that will eventually need repainting. Cast stone surrounds the
entry, garage doors and windows. “There is not much that will ever
deteriorate. It is built to last without a great deal of maintenance
needed. When you are retired, you don’t want to worry about
things like maintenance!

“We love the patio. It is a major entertaining area with a
magnificent view of the lake,” Shelley says. They had automatic
screens installed that allow use year-round. “Facing the east,
it gives us a stunning view of the sunrise every morning. We
frequently have our dinner on the patio,” says John. It has a
complete outdoor kitchen for grilling and a table for dining. On
the opposite end is a conversation area with a working fireplace,
which is handy on cooler evenings. A flat screen television makes
this a good place for watching sporting events with company.
“This is the first time we ever attempted to build a house. We
are extremely pleased with the work of the team Eddie Clark
assembled to create our dream home on the lake.”