Above: Deer regularly romp across the Evans property in Milton, but swan and flamingo floats are the only wildlife in the swimming pool.
Yes, culture, drama and aesthetics exist outside the Perimeter — waaaay outside.
Visit the Evans’ compound in Milton with layers of space and special views of the landscape and beyond. It’s all designed to heighten a sense of isolation — urban yet pastoral.
Charles, a retired major player in the health care industry who now heads a nonprofit, has traveled the globe to meet with government heads and collect statement pieces along the way. Wife Renee, an organic chemist by training, is an accomplished artist, designer, chef and Judaics collector who strives to preserve palaces abroad.
Both approach their lifestyle with a sense of humor, warmth and confidence in what they like.
Take the trip to the Evans countryside.
Photos by Duane Stork
Jaffe: How do you use these outdoor 10 acres?
Charles: Before I even looked inside the house, I saw the back yard and knew I had to have it. I hand-wrote a contract for the real estate agent on the spot. A lot goes into the landscaping. We have 30 Japanese maples, various exotic trees, two outside kitchens, a koi pond, an arched wedding venue, pool and a vegetable garden.
Renee: We have a family of deer that is so charming. Right now I am working on the garden. Note the animated owl scarecrow, whose eyes blink to deter critters. The dollhouse is a replica of the main house. Most sentimentally, my two best friends’ weddings were held here, as was our own.
Also, I like to paint outdoors. It is very private.
Jaffe: I see so much interesting Judaica.
Renee: We have a mezuzah on most every room’s door. … They are from Amsterdam, Budapest, England, Greece, Israel, Istanbul, Russia — really all over. I designed our Hebrew house blessing from Portuguese tiles, and our ketubah is a historical Venetian/Hebrew document with hand-painted detail mounted on rose silk.
Most meaningful to us was having three Torah covers for our synagogue handcrafted in Israel. We sought out artisans in Mea Shearim (the religious area of Jerusalem) to be able to interpret my designs. One was based on the Garden of Eden; the other, Shabbat and the Ten Commandments. Each one was hand-made with gold threading. Some with precious stones. All were coordinated with an individual yad we collected from different countries. They were dedicated in memory of my mother and both grandparents, taking six months to complete.
Jaffe: You have so much in art and culture from far-off lands. Why so?
Charles: Since retiring, I operate a nonprofit that works with governments and organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Latin America, establishing outpatient health clinics for underserved communities. If you recall, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival movie “Zemene” showcased the Joint Distribution Committee’s work with Dr. Rick Hodes on Ethiopia and spine disease. We did some meaningful work with him there, for example. Oftentimes we work with faith-based charities.
We have collected art from Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, Dubai, Europe, South America and Russia. My office features a tapestry from Peru. So we call it all “internationally eclectic.”
Jaffe: You as an artist and designer cover a lot of ground. Describe some of your inspirations.
Renee: You can see my paintings are often bold, colored geometrics with a hint of metal foil. I like to mix it up and can do portraits and landscapes as well. This unusual, full-size knight in shining armor (called “Hymie”) guards the house. But he has a secret. I painted over his original metal form.
Jaffe: What goes on in your kitchen?
Renee: I strive to be a good cook. I like to bake breads and am known for my honey wheat “mullah challah” that can feed a crowd. I love making pizza and pastas from scratch. I guess Charles would say my best dish is seafood pasta. You can see the reclining Buddha from India watches me cook. I will admit to buying cookies and pies from Publix down the street.
Jaffe: The lighting inside is breathtaking. Even in the casual sunroom you have formal fixtures.
Renee: Most of our fixtures are Baccarat or Waterford. We collect Waterford, thus we commissioned this replica of the Irish Open golf cup with our crest “C/R” by master craftsman and chief designer John Connolly while in Waterford, Ireland. It came shipped in a HUGE protective crate.
Jaffe: How do you use your carriage house or “man office”?
Charles: The downstairs is a replica of an English pub room. Note the stained glass that we acquired from the Red Baron. There is also a workout room, wine cellar and theater. Upstairs is my working office.
Jaffe: What are some of your most unusual treasures?
Renee: I am a patron of the Royal Palace Association, which strives to preserve these grand historic buildings. Charles teases me about being a princess, since I do have a jeweled tiara. I want to note that we bought it not out of pretense, but because of its historical significance, tracing back to a Jewish family in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Charles: I think the giant Prussian royal egg (circa 1780) is fairly exotic. I have great memories of receiving this oil from Russian President Boris Yeltsin when we worked on a project in Murmansk, Russia.
I do tell a funny story about meeting with the Clintons and Yeltsins and other heads of state on health care. When the men went into another room to smoke cigars and talk world peace, I stayed with the first ladies to discuss health care.
Jaffe: Charles, I would say you are not exactly retired.
Charles: I am busy doing meaningful work, including serving on multiple company boards, but I keep control of my calendar. That’s the winning combination. Our rescue pup, Winifred, has two cats to chase. Renee expresses herself artistically and serves on the Federation board and committees. Thus, you could say we are very busy and happy.