BY VAL SCHOGER PHOTOGRAPHY BY MIKE FENDER
Any day spent on the beach is a good day. For Janice and Milton Beal, there are only good days ahead as they have settled into 2,400-square feet of beachfront living space at Summerwinds, a resort-style condominium in Panama City Beach.
The spacious three-bedroom, two-bath unit reflects their personal taste and style with beautiful custom finishes and décor that underline the dark blue to light teal hues of the Gulf of Mexico.
With the first step into the spacious home, visitors are greeted by unobstructed views of beach and horizon. Spotless, shiny flooring reflects the light and highlights the warm colors of the décor. The furniture and accents are carefully arranged and tell the tale of Janice and Milton’s life as they have built their careers and traveled across the United States together. Florida has always been their favorite among all the places they have visited, they reminisce.
“We have been coming to the beaches in Northwest Florida since 1979,” Milton recalls. The beauty of the Gulf Coast drew them back year and year again. In 1995, they decided to buy their first condo in Destin and invested in two more homes in the former fishing village. The purchase of a condominium in Orlando followed as they had to travel frequently to central and south Florida for work.
After Milton’s retirement from a demanding career as sales representative for a manufacturer of western boots, the couple resolved that it was time to downsize and settle down in one place. Panama City Beach was their first choice. While its beautiful beaches played a major part in their decision, Milton and Janice point out that the locals were the most compelling reason for choosing Panama City Beach over other beach towns. “We have never met people as nice and helpful in any city that we’ve lived in,” they say with warm smiles, giving a beautiful testimony to their friends and neighbors.
With an open concept layout, the kitchen, living, and dining areas are a dream come true for entertaining. It can be instantly expanded to the outdoors with access to the large balcony that wraps around the south and east sides of the condo.
The kitchen is laid out as an octagon, with a wrap-around bar-height counter that offers seating for four guests and a Swarovski chandelier as a focal point and conversation starter. The dining table seats eight guests in comfort and features a hand-painted tabletop in a light champagne color that matches the intricately beaded chandelier above. A bar with lustrous gold 3-D tilework draws the eye in the dining room.
Warm gold tones also underline the color palette in the living area, complementing the vibrant teal and caramel tones of the furniture. Elegant antique oriental furniture with Colonial-style accent pieces lend a warm and inviting atmosphere to the bedrooms and office. In the bathrooms, coral and teal color accents, brushed bronze Kohler fixtures, and custom wallpaper contribute to a heightened sense of elegance. The guest bathroom features a warm tone-on-tone color palette.
Shiny bronze wallpaper reminds of alligator skin and complements the unusual coloring of the one-of-a-kind granite countertop and the natural autumn slate stone in the shower cabin. “We both zeroed in on the countertop right away,” Janice remarks. She and her husband have always worked very well together and all choices and finishes were made as a team. “We have very similar taste and he has a great eye for colors, patterns, materials, and design,” Janice summarizes, attributing his talent to the years of working with the designers at one of the largest manufacturers of western-style boots in the nation.
When she and Milton first met, he traveled constantly. Janice operated her own thriving handbag wholesale business at the time. After enduring much time apart, they decided to start working as a team for the boot manufacturer and from there on traveled together. Milton achieved the company’s highest recognition as representative of the year for three years nationwide. Small reminders of their careers can be found in every room. From the wallpaper that looks like the alligator skin a quality western boot is made of, to an eye-catching large photograph of a perfect pair of western boots effectively displayed with a colorful sunset as backdrop, to the custom cornice boards in the living room that were custom manufactured in a shape that reminds of the topstitching of a western boot.
But Janice and Milton’s absolute favorite feature in the entire home is the large balcony that overlooks the two pools and lush landscaping on one side and the entire 18-mile stretch of the world’s most beautiful beaches on the other. “Some days, weekend days, we stay on the balcony more than we stay indoors,” Janice says.
“We love the balcony. I tease Milton, because when he worked as a sales representative and had bags and bags of samples, he did not pick cars, he picked trunks so that he would have enough room for all those samples. So, when we picked our condos, this and past ones, we didn’t buy condos, we bought balconies. Because that is where we will spend most of our time. We love being close to the water.” At Summerwinds, the Beals have found the perfect balcony as it offers both shade and sunshine on any given day with its perpendicular shape facing south on one side and east on the other. But the real magic happens at nighttime, they explain. Milton sits back and describes the stunning sights the moon offers at night. “At about eight o’clock in the evening, all of a sudden, we see it come up, a giant illuminated ball. It’s gorgeous. You can sit there for about two hours looking at it. And then it goes over the top of the building. At night, this place is almost like you left the lights on.
The moon is over the water and it reflects in our shiny floors.” “The views are gorgeous,” Janice adds. “Like we said, it’s our paradise and we will not be moving anymore.” Whether with views of sun or moon, the time spent together looking at the horizon and the water below is always quality time. As their home is almost perfect except for small finishing touches that Janice feels are needed here and there, they know that it took teamwork and patience to reach their goals.
Janice and Milton have been happily married for 46 years. Asked about the secret of their harmonious marriage, Milton explains that it is not a secret at all. “We work together in everything we do. We sit down and talk about our ideas. Janice has a lot of great ideas and I had a few. But I can’t match her sense of bling. We live our best life and we are here because we work so well together. Life is full of joy. Don’t ever go to bed mad. If you want to be miserable, then you will miss out on the most joyful items in your life.”
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