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Smooth sailing through downsizing waters

Brooksby couple shares seven tips that worked for them

Created date

August 9th, 2016
Paul and Eleanor Dustin brought their favorite pieces when they moved to Brooksby, including Paul’s model ships and Eleanor’s porcelain collection.

Paul and Eleanor Dustin brought their favorite pieces when they moved to Brooksby, including Paul’s model ships and Eleanor’s porcelain collection.

Paul and Eleanor Dustin’s house in Reading, Mass., was the hub of family activity for 52 years. They raised their two daughters, Elizabeth and Martha, in the gray Garrison Colonial, featuring a style of English architecture where the second story slightly overhangs the first.

“We made a lot of memories over the years in that home,” says Eleanor.

When the couple began to consider a move to Brooksby Village in 2015, it was important that their apartment at the Peabody community feel just as warm and inviting. As the canvas for their new space, Paul and Eleanor chose a two-bedroom, two-bath, Kingston-style apartment with a balcony.

“Access to the outdoors was a selling point,” says Paul, a retired aerospace engineer. “We plan to set up a container garden on the balcony this summer.”

Paul and Eleanor moved to Brooksby on October 29, 2015. 

“Our eight-year-old grandson walked into the apartment and said, ‘It looks just like your old house,’” says Eleanor. “It’s true—we feel very comfortable here.”

With the move behind them, Paul and Eleanor share seven downsizing tips that eased their transition to Brooksby.

1. Eliminate redundancy.

“We had multiples of several types of furniture—beds, chests of drawers, etc.,” says Paul. “We brought what we needed to Brooksby and let go of the extras.”

2. Bring utilitarian items, just on a smaller scale.

When something would break in their Reading home, Paul would take it down to the cellar and fix it in his workshop. In preparation for the move, Paul consolidated his tools into one toolbox. 

“I condensed what I needed down to a manageable assortment of tools,” he says. “Just the other day a screw came out of the coffee table, and I was able to fix it.”

3. Repurpose favorite pieces.

“We have a Colonial blanket chest that I love,” says Eleanor. “I put it in our master bedroom at Brooksby for additional storage.”

The couple also kept two generously sized rugs. The larger of the two rugs graces the wood floors in their living room. The smaller rug warms up the second bedroom, which the couple uses as a home office.

4. Consider unique storage solutions.

Paul’s grandfather was the chief bookbinder for Houghton-Mifflin in the early 1900s and passed down a handsome collection of leather-bound books.

“It was important to me to bring those books,” says Paul.

The couple worked with Dot Harding, Brooksby’s custom interiors coordinator, to design bookshelves for either side of the master bedroom window, offering an esthetically pleasing storage solution for Paul’s grandfather’s books.

Eleanor also displays her collection of Chinese export porcelain in the couple’s apartment, nestled on her china cabinet and on mounted shelves.

“When you bring what you love, it has a chance to shine,” says Laurie Phillips, personal moving consultant at Brooksby.

5. Enlist the help of experts.

Phillips offers complimentary coordination of moving services, including referrals to preferred real estate agents, estate sale planners, and moving companies for anyone moving to Brooksby.

“Laurie visited us in our home in Reading before we moved and helped make a furniture plan for our new apartment so we knew where every piece would go,” says Eleanor. “She also recommended professional organizers who came in and helped us pack up. They set up our entire kitchen at Brooksby.”

6. Share treasures with family.

Before they moved, Paul and Eleanor asked their daughters, one in Belmont, Mass., and the other in Wilmette, Ill., to see which pieces, if any, they’d like to have.

“Our daughters took some furniture pieces as well as an antique bed warmer and foot warmer and an old ship’s compass,” says Eleanor. “I was delighted to pass these items along.”

7. Start early.

“Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to plan your move,” says Paul. “I can’t stress that enough. We didn’t feel rushed because we’d taken the time to make informed decisions about what we wanted to do with our things. I think that made a huge impact on the success of our move.”