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Your home, your way

Ashby Ponds’ dream weaver brings life to homes

Created date

January 4th, 2018
(From left) Joan Linthicum and Ashby Ponds Custom Interiors Coordinator Susan Mendoza. “I don’t know what I’d do without her,” says Joan, who moved to Erickson Living community in Loudon County, Va., last summer.

Joan Linthicum and Ashby Ponds Custom Interiors Coordinator Susan Mendoza. “I don’t know what I’d do without her,” says Joan, who moved to Erickson Living community in Loudon County, Va., last summer.


This year, Ashby Ponds will welcome more than a hundred new community members with the opening of its Birch Point and Cypress Ridge residence buildings. Each of the 157 new apartment homes in Birch Point and Cypress Ridge will feature upgraded finishes based on current market trends including stainless steel appliances, wood cabinets, and granite or quartz countertops. 

Yet, even with these industry-leading design features, incoming residents may wish to customize their new home to meet their own unique taste and style. Susan Mendoza, Ashby Ponds’ custom interiors coordinator, works one on one with community members eager to add special touches to their homes, such as crown molding, built-in bookcases, custom closets, window treatments, and custom paint and lighting. 

“This is my dream job,” says Mendoza, who has worked at Ashby Ponds since day one. “I thoroughly enjoy meeting our residents, hearing their stories, and helping them make their home truly their own.”

Timing is everything

Community members moving into one of Ashby Ponds’ soon-to-open apartment homes enjoy the unique opportunity to make customizations as their home is built. 

“We are able to get into the space and add a wall, install different countertops, add crown molding or custom closets—before the home is complete,” says Mendoza. 

Mendoza also works with people moving into apartment homes in Ashby Ponds’ existing residence buildings as well as those who’ve lived in their apartment home for years.

“I help residents make updates in the same way they would in their previous house, such as changing a paint color, updating countertops, or adding additional storage with custom closets,” she says.

Mendoza personally handpicks each of her contractors because of the level of service they provide and their experience working with Ashby Ponds community members. 

“Our contractors understand that working with our residents is a privilege, and they are expected to stay on their ‘A-game,’” she says. “Once work begins, my job is similar to that of a general contractor, ensuring that all work is completed as expected and in a timely fashion.”

Making it personal

Getting to know the residents she works with is one of the most important aspects of Mendoza’s job. 

“One of the first things I tell people is that I work solely for Ashby Ponds and do not receive a commission for the work that is done,” she says. “I never try to sell anyone anything. I never want a resident to feel rushed into a decision or upsold. I just want to help them achieve their vision. 

“Design is very unique to each individual,” Mendoza adds. “Some people know immediately what they want, while others need some guidance on what they can do. I usually start by asking questions such as, ‘What was your kitchen like in your house? What do you like about it, and what would you like to change?’”

With the opening of Cherry Blossom Square last year, Mendoza photographed many of the customization options installed in apartment homes.

“It’s more helpful to see a lighting option or a window treatment in an Ashby Ponds home than a sample in my office,” she says. 

For residents who aren’t sure where to begin, Mendoza often asks to see an example of their favorite artwork or a photo of a room they love in their current house.

“It’s a great way to get to know a person’s preferences even if they aren’t sure themselves,” she says.

Powerful partnership

Prior to her August 2017 move to Cherry Blossom Square, Joan Linthicum reached out to Mendoza for help making her large two-bedroom, Potomac-style apartment home her own. 

“I lived in a five-bedroom house and decided to sell everything and start over,” says Joan. “Thank goodness for Susan [Mendoza]. She is not only wonderful in what she does but also is a true friend. She was with me every step of the process.”

The women worked together to select furnishings for Joan’s home. 

“We decided to keep everything nice and light,” says Joan. “I’ve always lived by the water. I found a beautiful painting of sailboats, which became the inspiration for the ‘theme’ of my home.”

One of the most enviable aspects of the Potomac floor plan is the screened-in porch. With Mendoza’s help, Joan chose custom solar shades for three of the porch’s four sides. She also selected a ceiling fan to help keep the area cool on warm days.

Mendoza also helped Joan select rugs to coordinate with her new furnishings. She used a contractor to custom-cut rugs to fit perfectly in the living and dining rooms.

One of Joan’s biggest projects was installing custom closets throughout her new home. The largest closet, in the master bedroom, includes a special drawer for her jewelry.

“I can see everything now; it isn’t just all stuffed into the space,” says Joan. “My jewelry is easy to reach, and I’m wearing items I forgot I owned. The closets provide extra space and keep me organized. I would do them again in a heartbeat.”

Since Joan moved into her apartment, Mendoza stays in touch to ensure Joan is 100% happy with the choices she’s made. The two are now in the process of selecting draperies, a decision Mendoza encourages community members to postpone until they are completely moved in.

“I don’t know what I’d do without her,” says Joan. “She’s more than a help to me. She’s a friend.”