Downsizing — a familiar term heard often these days — has created the most rapid-growing segment of the real estate market known as condos, duplexes and townhouses. These alternative types of housing are popping up everywhere even in the middle of single-family subdivisions. Prompted by divorce, empty nesters and lifestyle changes, young professionals who grew up in local neighborhoods are ready to try something different from what their parents had.
Meet Wendy Wheeler. Having recently undergone the dissolution of a marriage, she opted to purchase a newly built patio home in Olivet Village. Not far from the residence of her son, Dain, daughter-in-law Emily, and only grandson, Aiden, the location was a perfect fit for her. The appealing floor plan offered ample living space with an attached garage, a variety of architectural details, and patio. Plus, Wendy was given the pleasure of selecting the interior paint colors, floor coverings, lighting fixtures, counter tops and hardware in her pre-finished home.
Some people are born with a knack for making a house feel like a home. For the rest of us, though, achieving the House Beautiful look is a struggle. With assistance from her Aunt Bonnie McMillan, a gifted interior re-designer and artist, and an inherited flair and know-how gene passed on from her grandmother, Wendy eagerly and imaginatively used her talents to produce a chic retreat.
“By coordinating my furniture with paint colors I had previously used and Aunt Bonnie by my side,” explained Wendy, “the process of fitting it all together in my new abode was simple. In a matter of a day or two, furniture was arranged, art and mirrors hung, lamps placed, and my favorite collectibles were gathered and in place. ‘Done in a day’ pretty much describes the process.”
Nothing is predictable about this house. A step inside quickly reveals a wide assortment of furniture, pattern and texture ranging from classic to modern to natural to sleek. Amazing artwork handed-painted by Aunt Bonnie on oversized canvases filled with vibrant bold colors hang in every room, including the bathrooms. Wendy’s passion for decorative pillows resting on every chair, sofa, bench and bed pack an additional punch of color against the neutrality of the walls. The lofty foyer mirror gives sparkle and direction down the narrow entrance hallway, while abundant and playful use of animal prints peek around every nook and corner.
“I don’t really follow any particular decorating rules,” Wendy said. “I just know what I like. I purchased all my light fixtures from Lowe’s. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have attractive things, a valued lesson I learned at the knee of my wise grandmother. Her philosophy and instructions have been most inspirational to both my sister and me, especially her most repeated advice of always wear a smile and be a lady.”
The wow factor doesn’t end in Wendy’s living room but continues in the hospitality suite (merger of the dining area/kitchen), guest bedroom and master bedroom. Choosing mottled brown granite to top the cabinets in the kitchen area suggests the look of built-in furniture. Placed in the center of the work area, a portable contemporary shiny metal cart becomes a movable island with instant storage. The cutout window space above the sink provides visibility and affords interaction with guests in the living room while Wendy entertains.
Faux-painted floral fire screens double as twin headboards in the guest room, setting a peaceful garden scene. The benches at the end of each bed provide a place to sit, stop, pause and smell the proverbial roses. The third bedroom has been turned into a small sitting room and den.
The arrangement of the master bedroom clearly demonstrates it is Wendy’s sanctuary for reading, relaxing and renewal. The oblong antique dough bowl adjacent to the inviting chaise lounge is the depository for favorite reading materials such as magazines, catalogues and novels. The cool-yet-cozy blue and brown color scheme melds together traditional bed linens and contemporary monogrammed pillows nestled under the abstract painting. Yes, of course, you know who coordinated all the colors in this room again by repeating them in her painting.
“The size of my brand new home frees me to engage in outside activities away from the home,” Wendy said. “To me this flexibility really anchors my desire to have quality living in a much smaller space and allows me additional free time.”
Using her prowess of re-combining, reusing and replacement, Wendy has created a fresh new look in her patio home. There’s no doubt her warm, cheery personality shines through every room inside and out with just a “little bit” of support from one of her favorite aunts.