Amelia Island Dream Home Boasts Magnificent Views

A home renovation amid the marshlands of Amelia Island proves to be the best medicine for an adventurous couple


Always up for fun and adventure, homeowners Liza and Terry Cotter are glass-half-full types. After losing their California ranch in a fire in 2017 and then overcoming a serious bicycle accident that required Liza to undergo nine surgeries, their dream to renovate a home on Amelia Island blossomed into a remarkably therapeutic experience.

Situated on a tidal marsh within the Amelia Island Plantation gated community, the 5,100-square-foot house displays scenic views from every room. The surrounding marsh waters are deep enough for the Cotters to take their boat out to the inland waterway or even the Atlantic Ocean. An ever-shifting landscape and the ebb and flow of the tides create a magical, mystical scene, while the island’s amusing pirate history continues to haunt the waters, adding to the intrigue. “The colors are constantly changing, and our views of egrets, herons, ibises, and roseate spoonbills are nonstop,” says Liza. “We even have the occasional dolphin come past our dock—it’s beautiful all day with spectacular sunsets that always amaze our guests.”

Working with a local team that included interior designer Robyn Branch, architect John Dodd, and builder Scott Payne, the Cotters watched their project unfold into a wonderfully memorable labor of love. “As I recovered over a two-year period, working with this crew is what kept me going,” says Liza. “I knew our house was going to be fantastic, and it gave me great encouragement to heal as quickly as possible. They even built a ramp so I could come by and see the construction progress while I was in a wheelchair.”

When planning the renovation, the primary (and obvious) goal was to bring the enchanting environment inside. Originally two structures, the home had to merge cohesively into one. Dodd’s architectural expertise and Payne’s building savvy made it possible to blend the two so the exteriors fit together seamlessly. In the living area, a massive wall of sliding doors was paramount to welcome the scenery inside, and Dodd suggested oversized windows in the kitchen without uppers to best capture the island vistas. The couple’s treasures from world travels, Terry’s collection of his great-grandfather’s military days in the 1800s, and their love for Africa also framed the feel of the house. The Cotters decided on a natural color palette—gray and beige—and a diversity of textures and fabrics to complement the marsh landscape and the ancient moss-draped live oak trees thriving in the backyard.

“Liza loves gray, like a misty marsh morning,” says Branch, “so we took inspiration from the scenery for color tones and punctuated with black to define the spaces along with other earthy hues. We designed the kitchen cabinets to look like their dock without being too rustic—just gnarly enough.” 

Local woodworker Robert Jenkins handcrafted a circular staircase to accommodate an unusual half turret without modifying the roofline. It includes metal-textured spindles and a wood-carved handrail painted to mimic metal. Adding to the dream team, Branch also brought in North Carolina artists Tania Garris, who created a mural on the stairwell, and Vicki Turner, who worked her wallpaper magic throughout the home. “This entire group was the best,” says the designer. “Liza is open and able to speak her mind, and she and Terry make decisions together so there are no surprises. Respect was the thread that held this project together.” 

The views are the couple’s favorite aspect of their home, and they savor the sunsets with any number of friends and neighbors at Camp Cotter—a name that has stayed with them through three different houses. “I have loved Amelia Island since the early ’70s when I moved here after college,” says Liza. “After many years away, Terry and I are so happy to have chosen this as our forever home. We have everything here—the beach, the marsh, the charming town of Fernandina Beach, great restaurants, and miles of bike and walking paths. It’s truly an enchanted island.”

Story Credits:

Interior Design by Robyn Branch, Robyn Branch Design, Fernandina Beach, FL

Text by Jeanne de Lathouder

Photography by Zeke Ruelas, Nashville, TN

Open to see Interior Design Sources:


Living Room

Sofa and side table – Baker Furniture, High Point, NC

Swivel chairs – Hickory White, High Point, NC 

Cocktail table – Phillips Collection, High Point, NC 

Side table – Oly, High Point, NC

Lamps – Currey & Company, High Point, NC

Dining Area

Dining table and chairs – Lexington, High Point, NC 

Chandelier – Ashore, High Point, NC

Area rug – Nashville Rug Gallery, Nashville, TN


Stools – Palecek, High Point, NC 

Pendant lighting – Palecek, High Point, NC 

Family Room

Pool table – Billiards by Brandt, Miami, FL

Fringed ottomans – Made Goods, High Point, NC

Sofa and swivel chair – Paul Robert, High Point, NC

Side chests and console – Bennett Discoveries, High Point, NC

Lamps and pillows – Ngala Trading, High Point, NC

Cornice wallcovering – Phillip Jeffries, Fairfield, NJ 

Rug – Asia Minor, High Point, NC

Powder Room

Vanity – Phil Green Cabinetry, Jacksonville, FL

Mirror – Made Goods, High Point, NC

Lighting – Currey & Company, High Point, NC

Wallcovering – Manuel Canovas, 

Primary Bedroom

Bed and ottomans – Century Furniture, High Point, NC 

Bedside chests – Bennett Discoveries, High Point, NC

Lamps – Jamie Young, High Point, NC

Wallcovering – Cowtan and Tout, Brooklyn, NY 

Primary Bathroom

Lighting – Visual Comfort, High Point, NC

Wallpaper – Arte International,

Closet – California Closets,


Exterior architect – John Dodd Architect, Fernandina Beach, FL

Builder – Renov8ed Homes, Yulee, FL

Front lighting – Hinkley, High Point, NC

Back lighting – Fine Art Handcrafted Lighting, Hialeah, FL

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