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Phil DeSantis

Written by Marilyn and Joe Sparling

The timing was perfect. We’d lived in Chapel Hill for almost 50 years and knew we wanted to keep on living here, but in a continuing care retirement community (Life Plan Community). Our 10-room home and extensive gardens that were once a joy were feeling burdensome. We had been on the waiting list for a villa in another CCRC for over 7 years and were getting impatient. On the spur of the moment, we headed over to Carolina Meadows to see if we could broaden our options. We had a tour around the campus and buildings,and when we met with Melissa Kass, she showed us a 1000 sq. ft. apartment that was set up as a model. Others had turned it down and it was available immediately! Wow, this was a lot smaller than we had anticipated. We had a villa in mind. But…we were thinking about downsizing. So, why not really pursue that idea?

We began to take inventory of whether or not we could happily fit into that space: sun-room, living room, kitchen, small den, 1.5 baths, 1 bedroom. After deliberation, we both decided: let’s go for it. Our solution was to keep the plan open and to put in lots of built-ins (including bookshelves in the den and cabinets in the bedroom) to maximize storage of all the treasures we wanted to keep. The former residents had put 4 closets in our apartment hallway, and this helped. Yet, we still had to rent a climate-controlled storage space for things that we didn’t have time to make a decision on.

Our art collection was important to us, so we hung 18 of our paintings salon style on the largest wall in the living room and in the bedroom – plus individual paintings and small groups on smaller walls. For all of these we installed track lights or individual spots. We still had several paintings we held dear and these overflowed into our building hallway.

We are now into our 6th month at Carolina Meadows and know we made the right decision – both in terms of community and the size of our unit. It was a challenge to downsize so substantially – but it was a good challenge. Now we know that we don’t really need more space. All the amenities and activities beyond our apartment make the living “large.” And the friends and neighbors at Carolina Meadows make it home.

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