Like many people looking to rightsize for retirement, Nick and Mary Ann Cammarano were initially hesitant to make a drastic change from their single-family home to lighter living. Two years after jumping on an opportunity—or two—they wouldn't change a thing.
The couple had a buyer for their West Long Branch house and wanted to capitalize on it. They knew Seabrook, the Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J., was the perfect lifestyle for them—no maintenance, continuing care on campus, more than 120 activities and groups.
But when they first started looking at floor plans, they began to think they would need a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment home. "We got to thinking we could use a second bedroom; maybe a one-bedroom would be too small," Mary Ann recalls.
Their doubts were soon deterred when Sales Counselor Dennise Baldwin showed them an available one-bedroom-with-den Gilbert model.
"After seeing the two-bedroom apartments, we found [the Gilbert] more than fits our needs. We are extremely comfortable here," Mary Ann says. "With 960 square feet, we have so much room. I don't miss the house one bit."
"Because we have such limited inventory, it's important to come with an open mind, like the Cammaranos did," Baldwin says. "If they had insisted on a two-bedroom model, they may not have been able take advantage of that buyer and sell their home at the perfect time."
Functionality beats square footage
Although the Cammaranos have slightly less square footage than a two-bedroom apartment home, the functionality of their space makes square footage a nonissue. Mary Ann gives credit to Custom Interiors Coordinator Linda Heintz.
New residents can work with Heintz, an interior designer, to select paint, carpeting, architectural packages, window treatments, flooring, and other décor features. Her design services are no additional charge.
"It's all part of our comprehensive services designed to make moving to Seabrook easy and enjoyable," says Baldwin. "Priority list members receive assistance with moving from their old house as well as moving and settling into their new home."
Heintz helped the Cammaranos visualize, plan, and complete custom built-ins and other interior design items.
For the closets—including the den, which has one of the largest closets of all the floor plans—Heintz designed compartments for long hanging clothes and racks for shorter items. The master closet houses compartments for Mary Ann's 25 to 30 pairs of shoes as well as a vanity with a generous-size chair, mirror, and tower compartments for make-up and jewelry.
In the den, a built-in wall unit houses a large-screen television and below it a computer, a pull-out keyboard, and to the left, a floor-to-ceiling closet where Mary Ann stores linens. To the right, another glass-faced floor-to-ceiling tower keeps the printer and some other personal items on display.
Bassett Furniture in Bricktown, designed a sectional sofa, ottoman, and sofa table to fit the den as well as other pieces to fit the home so that every room is functional and comfortable.
Mary Ann explains: "When the grandkids come and want to get away from the adults, they can go in the den and watch television or play with toys we have stowed away. It's a functional space."
They have two sons and three grandchildren, 15, 11, and 1, who enjoy visiting their grandparents frequently. "We take them to the pool. They come here all the time to eat," says Mary Ann.
With the helpful eye of Personal Moving Consultant Laurie Williamson, who identified that their treasured grandfather clock would not fit in the apartment as-is, the Cammaranos coordinated with Heintz to replace French doors with a pocket French door. Now, the grandfather clock stands proudly, and they maintained the integrity and beauty of French doors.
On time and on target
"Linda had three to four weeks to complete everything, and it was all done on time before we moved," says Mary Ann. "Everything was done to a 'T,' and I never have to think about it again."
Mary Ann says they have thought of their apartment as home since the first day they moved in, which has left them free to explore all the other amenities and activities of Seabrook.
"We meet friends for dinner or lunch or brunch on Sundays. I belong to a writing group, Reminiscing on Paper, and I love it. My husband Nick swims in the aquatics center twice a week. He plays pool at least once a week. You can do as much or as little as you want to do here, whatever's to your liking," she says.
When asked if Seabrook has lived up to their expectations, she says, "Oh, more than. You have an idea of what to expect, and you only hope it fulfills your wishes and needs. It's been the best decision we've ever made. I'm so glad we came as a couple, and we can establish our roots here. We don't have to worry about anything from here on out. We have a sense of peace knowing we are where we belong and where we want to belong."
And what's even better, she says, is that they passed their peace of mind on to their two sons. "They realized we have CVS, the medical center, the bus—we don't have to worry about a thing, and they don't have to worry about a thing. We gave our peace of mind to them."