Tribune Print Share Text

‘We love it here’

Couple customizes Eagle’s Trace home to reflect their contemporary, functional style

Created date

May 5th, 2017
Sandy and Tom Wills relax in their new apartment home at Eagle’s Trace. The couple set up a “command center” for Sandy at the breakfast bar, a cozy spot for her to work on her laptop.

Sandy and Tom Wills relax in their new apartment home at Eagle’s Trace. The couple set up a “command center” for Sandy at the breakfast bar, a cozy spot for her to work on her laptop.

Tom and Sandy Wills’ move to Eagle’s Trace was two years in the making.

They joined the priority list at the West Houston Erickson Living community in January 2015 by putting down a fully refundable $1,000 deposit to reserve their place in line for the apartment home of their choice.

“The process of downsizing began even before we reserved our apartment,” says Tom, a retired chemical engineer. “We took one step at a time, and that made all the difference in ensuring a successful, smooth transition.”

The couple’s first step? 

“We stopped buying things we didn’t need,” says Sandy. “It’s easy to see something at the store and bring it home, but we made a conscious decision not to add anything to the items we already owned.”

Stress-free apartment home shopping

When Eagle’s Trace announced the construction of a new residence building, Amarillo Terrace, scheduled to open in fall 2016, Tom and Sandy decided the time was right to move.

Apartments in the new building were reserved according to priority list status. Tom and Sandy had already studied the floor plans and decided they wanted a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with a screened-in balcony and lake view on one of the upper floors. There was only one problem.

“We were on a cruise when our turn came up to select an apartment,” says Tom. “But we had already given our criteria to Jodie [Schroeder, sales counselor]. She emailed us that there was a Lucchese-style apartment that fit the list we’d given her. We replied that we’d take it. Essentially, we reserved our apartment on a cruise ship floating in the Pacific Ocean.”

Downsizing tips and tricks

When the couple returned home to Houston’s Memorial area, just a few miles from Eagle’s Trace, they began downsizing in earnest.

Personal Moving Consultant Haven Benoit visited Tom and Sandy in their home to map out a personalized moving plan. Benoit offers complimentary coordination of moving services for anyone moving to Eagle’s Trace.

“Haven brought a number of tools in her relocation kit,” says Sandy. “She measured all the furniture pieces we planned to bring with us to Eagle’s Trace and helped us develop a floor plan of where they would go in our new apartment. She also gave us the names of real estate agents, senior move managers, and moving companies that she’s vetted and worked with before.”

As they began culling through their belongings, Tom and Sandy found several tips that worked for them.

“Haven gave us a timer, and told us to work in 15-minute increments if we started to feel overwhelmed,” says Tom. “We’d set the timer and clean out for 15 minutes.”

Letting go, looking forward

Another revelation came when Tom and Sandy realized they could do without some of the collections they’d amassed throughout the years.

“Everybody’s got a collection,” says Sandy. “I collected nutcrackers and Royal Copenhagen plates. They were just sitting in a cupboard, not being used. Part of downsizing for me was letting those things go so I could embrace all the new things waiting for me at Eagle’s Trace.”

Tom, for his part, decided to part with the CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs, and books he’d amassed over the years.

“We were moving from a 2,700-square-foot home to a 1,050-square-foot apartment,” he says. “That meant we had to get rid of roughly 65% of our things, just based on square footage.”

Since Tom and Sandy’s neighborhood association didn’t permit any type of in-home sales, they found a unique solution to sell the items they weren’t bringing with them to Eagle’s Trace.

“We held an online auction,” says Tom. “The online auction company did all the work. They divided our items into lots, held an online auction for a week, and when the auction closed, they were at our house as buyers came to pick up their purchases.”

Showcasing their treasures

With downsizing behind them, Tom and Sandy focused their attention on customizing their Eagle’s Trace apartment to suit their needs and taste.

Since they reserved their apartment while it was still under construction, the couple had the opportunity to choose the finishes—granite countertops, cabinets, flooring, and lighting—they wanted in their new space.

“I liked the look of the light wood cabinets,” says Sandy. “They add warmth without being too dark.”

The couple also relished the opportunity to showcase the items they brought with them to Eagle’s Trace. 

“Art is important to us,” says Sandy. “We hung our molas [South American artwork] in the hallway leading to the bedrooms, and our Egyptian art is in the master bedroom.”

The couple worked with the Closet Factory, a vendor recommended by Custom Interiors at Eagle’s Trace, to design an entertainment center for the great room; built-in cabinets in the second bedroom; a dresser in the master bedroom; and additional storage in the closets, laundry room, and bathrooms.

“In our house, there were pockets of space we didn’t use,” says Sandy. “Now, because the apartment is on a smaller scale, we were able to customize every space so it’s all very functional.”

‘Reflection of us’

Tom and Sandy knew they wanted to use the second bedroom as an office and initially considered sharing the space. But further consideration led them to a different solution.

“We both watch television while we work, but I favor financial programs and news, while Sandy likes the Today show and lighter programming,” says Tom. “We had a TV mounted in the kitchen and set up a command center on one end of our breakfast counter for Sandy to use. It’s worked out very well.”

Now that they’re settled, Tom and Sandy have enjoyed entertaining guests in their inviting apartment, often offering them a glass of wine from Tom’s wine rack in the great room.

“Our neighbors who lived by us on Carriage Hill Drive have dubbed our apartment ‘Carriage Hill Lite,’” says Sandy. “Our apartment is a great reflection of us. We love it here.”