By Kirsti Scott
Shell collector Amanda Collett and her husband, Freddy, planned on retiring to Florida some time in the next few years. They had spent recent Christmas holidays and other vacations in Florida with their family, collecting shells and enjoying the beautiful beaches. In early 2020, they decided they didn’t want to wait to move to their dream house, and Amanda and Freddy packed up and moved to Florida in May.
And, when they packed up, it wasn’t as much as you might think. Amanda and Freddy brought only the essentials: beds, clothes, photos, and Amanda’s huge seashell collection. The family sold the rest of their belongings before moving from Kentucky and they bought a home on Florida’s east coast, halfway between Freddy’s work and Amanda’s favorite shelling beaches. Now, instead of waiting for vacations to go shelling, Amanda can drop her daughter at school and then head to the beaches any day of the week. I caught up with her on her way to go shelling and learned all about her dream house.
Amanda’s new home was a blank palette with tons of potential when she and the family arrived. Amanda did all the design herself, spending the months after moving to Florida finding furniture, picking out beach décor, and buying display cases and shelves to house her extensive seashell collection. “I have so many shells, and I wanted to be able to display them,” said Amanda.
Before & After:
Amanda loves making her creative ideas come to life. She used her shells as inspiration in every room, incorporating her seashells and seashell art through the house. She turned a dining room into her office, with floor-to-ceiling seashell display cases and framed collections. Coastal art and beach-themed fabrics and accessories make a trip to Amanda’s house feel like a day at the beach.
“We ordered all the furniture when we arrived, but due to the pandemic, it was months before everything arrived!”
Amanda says she’s almost done redecorating her new house. “I’d like to make the guest room a shell room full of glass display cases of my shells,” said Amanda. “I’d add more glass cases if I had the room!” And she has plenty of shells to fill up a lot more cases. Now neatly stored in her garage, Amanda’s shell collection is impressive. She’s been using some of her shells to create a border along her swimming pool, neatly stacking Florida Fighting Conch shells along the edge.
With the house almost done, Amanda now has time to explore her local beaches. “I love the end results, now I’m going to spend my time on the beach in search of more treasures to add to my collection!” She’s had fun meeting fellow shell collectors and beachcombing for shells—such as lion’s paws and sea hearts—and sea glass found more commonly on the eastern coast of Florida.
Amanda spends one day every other month hosting shelling tours with Treasure Seekers Shell Tours. She teaches shellers about the Florida seashells, asks them what they’re hunting for, and helps them find seashells on the four-hour trips. She enjoys connecting with fellow beachcombers and sharing her shell knowledge.
Amanda has loved moving to Florida to pursue her dreams. Her family is settling in, friends and family have come to visit her new home, and Amanda is looking forward to her new life in Florida. If you want to catch up with her, you can find Amanda shelling on the beach, or on Facebook and Instagram @amandas_oceantreasure. For more information on finding, identifying, cleaning, and creating art with shells, pick up a copy of Amanda’s book, My Way of Shelling.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine January/February 2021 issue.
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No live shelling: Be sure shells are empty and sand dollars, sea stars, and sea urchins are no longer alive before you bring them home.