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Living large on a smaller scale

Millersville couple downsizes, discovers more room to enjoy life

Created date

August 20th, 2013

John and Dawn Strumsky had to lose a little square footage when they traded in their three-bedroom, two-bath rancher for their two-bedroom, two-bath, Kingston-style apartment home at Charlestown. But whatever extra space they lost, they gained in spades in their quality of life. There s a certain peace that comes with shedding the responsibilities of a house where you have to worry about things like the roof and the landscaping, says John, a freelance writer and former Marine. After visiting friends at the Erickson Living community in Catonsville years earlier, Dawn had set her sights on Charlestown. I was only 50 at the time, but I came back home and said to John, I m ready to move now. On Dawn s 62nd birthday, John placed their names on the priority list, and in 2011, they put their Millersville house on the market. To their surprise, their house of 40 years sold in four days. The buyers wanted to move in before the end of the month, says Dawn. So we ended up moving temporarily into a new two-bedroom model apartment at Charlestown on the third floor of Herberts Run until the apartment we wanted opened up.

Blessing in disguise

Initially, Dawn and John had their heart set on a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with a walkout patio so they could easily access the outdoors for walking their toy poodle Twinkie. But a short time after moving, Twinkie passed away. It was then that Dawn started thinking. From the minute we walked into this apartment, I felt right at home, says Dawn. The paint colors are beautiful, and every room is finished with crown molding something we never had in our house. In fact, John jokes that Dawn lies in bed admiring the beauty of the crown molding. So I said to John, You know, I really like this place. It s got plenty of space, a recessed balcony, and everything we want. And now that Twinkie is gone, we no longer need a ground floor patio. That was enough for John, who also was smitten with the place. So as a surprise to Dawn for their 38th anniversary, John contacted the Charlestown sales office and made it official. It kept me from having to buy her an expensive anniversary gift, John jokes.

Helping hand

Charlestown specializes in helping couples like the Strumskys simplify their lives by eliminating the unused space and constant pressures of maintenance and upkeep of owning a large home. There s a misconception that the mere act of staying in your house makes you independent, says Don Grove, director of sales at Charlestown. In reality, that couldn t be further from the truth. By eliminating all of the obstacles and limitations your house places on you, you re free to pursue the things that matter and interest you most. Grove adds that just because you re scaling back, you don t have to sacrifice the details that make your house your home. When you choose an apartment at Charlestown, the possibilities of how you design and decorate are limitless. Whether it s crown molding, hardwood floors, custom painting, or granite countertops, the choices are endless, he says.

A personal touch

The Strumskys personalized their two-bedroom home with custom built-in bookcases and closet organizers to maximize their storage space. Our apartment is really spacious, says Dawn. I really love the recessed balcony. We have a fantastic view, and because it s covered, we can sit out there and relax even if it s raining. I also like being able to walk outside in the morning to see what the weather is like. The den [which the couple refers to as John s man cave] is actually bigger than the one we had in our house, adds John. We have two bathrooms, a very large walk-in closet, and our living room is enormous. But for the Strumskys and many of their neighbors, the best part about living at Charlestown is the bustling 110-acre community that is an extension of their home. After moving here, I had planned to sit in my den and relax, says John. Instead, we ve hardly been home. John uses the fitness center, belongs to the walking club, is an instructor for Elderhostel Lifelong Learning Institute at Charlestown, and recently wrote a history of Charlestown. Dawn is a member of Lighthouses of Prayer, Pet Lovers Group, and Forever Girl Scouts. And they both host a television program, Our Charlestown Neighbors, produced at the in-house TV studio. When asked to describe their new life, John sums it up best: We tell everyone we re living large!