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On trend

Open-concept floor plans cater to active retirement lifestyle

Created date

October 30th, 2015
Ruth and Alan Clarin at their breakfast bar
Ruth and Alan Clarin at their breakfast bar

Home design trends have shifted over the years. Recently, new homes are moving away from the boxy rooms, narrow hallways, and separate living and dining rooms of years past in favor of larger, more open, flexible spaces. 

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) Home Design Trends Survey for the first quarter of 2015 demonstrates that 61% of respondents report an increase in open-concept spaces, up from 50% in 2014.

Seabrook, the Erickson Living community in Tinton Falls, N.J., has taken note. The modern continuing care community features various open-concept floor plans, from deluxe one-bedroom apartments to luxury two-bedroom apartment homes. 

Personal Moving Consultant Laurie Williamson says open-concept layouts allow retirees to right-size from a large, single-family home to a space that better fits their life today, rather than 30 years ago.

“Our apartments highlight the most-used rooms of your house so there is no wasted space that requires extra cleaning and maintenance,” Williamson says.  

Flexible living space

Most empty nesters use just four to five rooms: bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room, sometimes an office or den. Extra bedrooms and bathrooms, the dining room, and basement often collect dust and clutter. 

Seabrook’s comprehensive community design extends living space into the common areas. “You no longer have a formal dining room that collects dust, but we have a private catering room available for entertaining large parties,” says Williamson. “It’s a much more efficient use of space.”

The AIA survey demonstrates this trend as well. In 2015, 56% of respondents reported an increase in informal spaces compared to 52% in 2014.

Alan and Ruth Clarin chose a Glendale floor plan, which suits their lifestyle to a T. With one bedroom, one and a half bathrooms, a den, and a large open kitchen, “It’s perfect for us,” Alan says. 

“We looked at a few apartments, but when we walked in and saw the layout of this one, we knew,” says Alan, a former engineer who holds the decorator card among the couple. He had the home outfitted with hardwood plank flooring, comforting paint colors, and an eclectic mix of décor that works in the open floor plan.

The couple entertains occasionally—the open floor plan is perfect for hosting a crowd. When they’re not entertaining new friends or old, they attend shows and take trips provided by the community. 

Bye-bye, dishpan hands

Even though each home is equipped with a modern kitchen, residents need not cook or clean up after dinner each night. Seabrook has multiple dining venues open seven days a week. Chefs prepare restaurant-quality meals with fresh ingredients and bold flavors. And neighbors can meet and mingle over delicious cuisine. 

Ruth and Alan take breakfast and lunch at their two-seat breakfast bar most days. The bar provides a soft separation between kitchen and living space. 

They each use a flexible monthly meal plan to enjoy dinners in one of Seabrook’s two restaurants. “The food here is very good,” Alan says.

The advantages of one-level living

One of the biggest advantages to an open-concept apartment home at Seabrook is one-level living. 

“Not having to climb stairs is such a huge benefit,” says Williamson. “Just imagine not having to lug laundry up and down one or two sets of stairs ever again.” Each apartment home has a washer and dryer tucked neatly away.

Other design features include walk-in closets, eliminating under-the-bed storage. Bright and airy living areas flow into the kitchen and allow for easy entertaining. And large picture windows expand space and create a bright, positive atmosphere. 

Maintenance-free living

“Older houses often have small closets, little natural light, and cramped rooms,” Williamson says. “What’s even worse is older houses have a host of maintenance problems. At Seabrook, we take care of everything.”

Each apartment home’s monthly service package includes all home maintenance, professional landscaping, 24/7 security, utilities, use of all amenities, property taxes, and one of two flexible meal plans.

As with any move, “It took some time to adjust,” Alan says, “but we made a good decision. The peace of mind, location, and activities make it all worth it. We’re pleased that we made this change.”

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