After living in the same home for 43 years, John and Pat Kasuda found that downsizing was a cinch.
"The downsizing was actually getting rid of all the things we no longer needed and realizing that all of it was just stuff," said Pat Kasuda.
But when they moved to the Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville, they did not have to sacrifice a lot of room for their stuff.
Hardly a cracker box, the spacious 2,000-square-foot unit was especially designed and constructed for the couple by combining two smaller apartments into one large dream home.
"We worked with an architect to help us design our corner [unit] on the second floor. We wanted windows in every room," said Pat Kasuda, 68.
"We've been married 47 years, and this is the first house we built together," added John Kasuda, referencing the major construction job involved in combining two units into one residence.
Westminster chimes from the grandfather clock in the dining room break the silence of the double unit, which could easily be a home in the woods. Pat Kasuda was insistent that there be no curtains on the windows that look out upon old trees. Instead, fabric shades finish the look.
The couple spent about $500,000 for a unit that consists of living room, dining room, full kitchen, office, laundry room, storage room, two bedrooms and two bathrooms. The apartment homes generally range in price from $79,000 to $578,000, plus monthly fees that include utilities, maintenance, basic cable TV, transportation and a meal plan.
The transition of furnishings from their old home to their new apartment was made with the help of Charleston's moving service staff, who, among other things, prepared a scaled floor plan for the couple.
"Our living room and bedroom furniture came from Gardiners," Pat Kasuda said. "We were making a transition and kept only what we call our 'memory pieces.'"
These special treasures include a needlepoint bench belonging to her aunt, her mother's bedroom suite — now in the guest room — and boxes of photographs and crafting materials.
Their elegant dining room suite of maple wood came from the former house, its 51/2-foot-by-31/2 -foot oval table easily opening to 11 feet to accommodate friends and family, including their three grown sons, who have their own families.
Eager to put a warm and comfortable stamp on their home, the couple turned to color. Out went the white walls and in came the paint.
The living room and dining room are bathed in wheat gold while the kitchen features a hearty shade of brick. Williamsburg blue works nicely in the Kasudas' office, while accent walls present drama to the bedrooms. The couple chose Berber carpeting throughout the apartment.
The kitchen is perhaps the most dramatic in the home where decor and design are concerned. White appliances provide dynamic contrast to walls painted a deep red. Features include glazed maple cabinets, dark granite countertops, an island and a separate 9-foot-long bar, which comes in handy for the dozens of cookies Pat Kasuda makes over the holidays.
"We have hall parties," she said.
Walking from one wing of their home to the next, the couple, who enjoy traveling abroad, praise the amenities they appreciate in their new community.
In addition to Pat Kasuda's charity work, choir singing and tutoring, she also initiated a Rotary Fellowship at Charlestown. Both her and her husband have their own parcels of land on the property to garden.
"This is our dream home because John and I made the decision to move here while we are young enough to enjoy life," she said, "and all that Charlestown has to offer."
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Making the dream
Dream element: The Kasuda home is in the Catonsville retirement community of Charlestown, an independent, nonprofit entity managed by Erickson Living. More than a residence, it offers amenities and lifestyle perks, including indoor pools, gyms, classrooms, and project areas.
Dream design: Charlestown's spacious campus is filled with open space, gardens and walking paths lined by old shade trees. The buildings are connected by glassed-in sidewalks which allow visitors to traverse the entire complex without ever having to set foot outside in inclement weather.
Dream interior: John and Pat Kasuda's unit is one of 59 "combination projects" designed by Charlestown since 2008. "To serve a new generation of resident, [we] understood the need to provide larger apartment homes with more amenities," said Jeff Gedek, a Charlestown spokesperson. "Where possible, efficiency and studio apartments have been combined to create more spacious homes, and therefore, meet the interests of baby boomers and beyond."