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her home: Alayne Simmons offers glimpse of her Eagle & Phenix Loft

Alayne Simmons and her fiance Jason Gamache wanted a simpler lifestyle that was closer to the uptown Columbus area where they generally spend most of their time.

"Jason's business is downtown, PTAP, and I work at Aflac full-time, but my mother also has a restaurant, Meritage so we spent so much of our time downtown that it made sense for us to be down here," Alayne said of her recent move to the Eagle & Phenix Lofts, the couple's second home.

"Commuting for 20 minutes to get out to the house, you know you basically would waste an hour of your day in commute and that's valuable time that you could spend with your family and friends."

Alayne enjoys the convenience of living close to uptown restaurants and being able to meet with friends or family for a drink or appetizers should they call for a last-minute get-together.

But she also loves the simpler life that loft-living offers, even though she wasn't sure she could live in such a small space at first.

"In the short-term of things, I've realized that we don't need a larger unit because this is so close and intimate," she said. "I love it. We actually call it our little treehouse."

Alayne and Jason were drawn to their particular unit for the view from the balcony, which overlooks the Chattahoochee, and the time-worn brick walls. They wanted to make sure their loft looked like a loft.

"We wanted a minimalist look and we wanted modern. We weren't looking for anything traditional," Alayne said. "We wanted it to be comfortable and just cozy at the same time. We wanted to make sure we kept it as open and as lofty as possible."

They added a few details to the unit, such as a wall where they hang local photographs taken by their friend Steven Thompson, decorative molding, an entertainment area with a pop of red color and closet organizers.

Avoiding clutter

Alayne said she hopes the smaller space will also help keep them from "accumulating stuff," which for most couples about to walk down the aisle might be difficult.

However, Alayne, 25, and Jason, 32, have been together for seven years. "We're established," she said. "The only things we need are one another and our life and love and our faith."

So in lieu of gifts, they're asking wedding guests to make a charitable donation to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the facility where Alayne was treated for cancer when she was in seventh grade.

"It just means a lot to be able to give back and to thank them for what they've done for me and my family -- they're the reason I'm here today," she said.

Alayne and Jason are getting married next April, but Alayne said the response to their charitable gift idea has been very supportive. She said people have told her about their experiences with Children's Healthcare of Atlanta and thanked her for sharing her story (a YouTube video is posted on the couple's wedding website,

Alayne said she hopes that people will be generous for the charitable cause, noting that it's also tax deductible. She's also doing research in hope of finding a local organization willing to match her wedding guest's contributions.

"(Guests) can know that this is going to make a difference," she said. "No matter how small the contribution, it's going to make a difference."