Dorothy Zimmerman's apartment is an eclectic array of paintings, antiques, patterns, and textures, all in warm, soothing reds and browns. An Aztec-inspired rug sets the tone in her living room, where five beautifully upholstered vintage chairs and a sofa create a wide and open conversation area.
Adjacent, a striking emerald green, satin, neoclassical-style chair adorns the hallway. There, a paper-mache Mexican doll named Elvira sits, looking on.
"Most of my art has a story behind it," says Dorothy, a retired hospital administrator. "I've traveled a lot. I bought some from oversees—Ecuador; London, England; Mexico; Norfolk, Virginia. I have several artists from Virginia."
She says having ample wall space to hang her artwork was priority when she moved from Norfolk, Va., to Cedar Crest, an Erickson Living community in Pequannock Township, N.J., where she lives now. "When I came here and started looking, the thing that was most attractive about this apartment was the size and the light."
Dorothy chose an apartment that had originally been two separate apartments made into one, large, open floor plan. "Cedar Crest is finding that more people want larger spaces, and they are accommodating that need," she says.
"We listened to the market and our customers, and we decided to build larger apartment homes as two adjacent, smaller apartments become available," says Sales Director Ray Guarino. "We are changing as the market changes, and these homes sell quickly when they become available."
Guarino says that as they continuously study the market, they have found people are moving to Cedar Crest from 2,500-square-foot or larger homes. "It's difficult for people to adjust to a smaller space," he says. "These larger homes lighten that burden and make the transition easier."
Guarino says they listened to their customers not only on size but also design. "A lot of the conversation was about open floor plans—the kitchen area with a breakfast bar, flowing into the living space."
"We also took into account that people want a nice big master bedroom," he says. Most bedrooms in the new designs also feature spacious walk-in closets.
Storage space doesn't end in the bedroom closets, though. Laundry rooms that accommodate full-sized washer and dryer provide additional utility space—a common request—in many of these homes. If these apartments sound exciting to you, you're not alone.
"We have a handful of combo apartments available, but they sell quickly. The best way to reserve one is to join the priority list," says Guarino.
Risk-free membership requires a fully refundable $1,000 deposit and $150 nonrefundable application fee to reserve your place in line for the apartment home of your choice.
"Joining the priority list is the best way to ensure you get the apartment that's right for you, whether that's a large combo apartment or one of our beautiful one-bedrooms," says Guarino. "Priority list members tell us the features they want, and we contact them, based on the date they joined the priority list, when an apartment that meets their criteria becomes available."
Dorothy's home is a perfect example of combo apartment design. Modern, white cabinets in a large kitchen keep the space bright. A breakfast bar—her "home base"—defines the space while keeping it open to the living and dining areas.
Large, wide windows across the entire front of the apartment welcome light while providing a stunning view of treetops and a rolling horizon of mountaintops.
The ability to bring so much of her artwork and furniture with her from Norfolk provided immense comfort to Dorothy when she moved. "It's a huge transition. Your new friends and your mindset are key to making the transition. And knowing I can always come back into my lovely apartment. It feels like home transported," she says, admiring her home.
In making her decision to move, Dorothy also realized that her home was not just inside her apartment. Friends, organizations, amenities, and nearness to New York City all topped her list.
"I considered moving into a condo in the area, but I decided that I didn't want to move twice if I ever had to," she says. "Moving into a condominium building is not the same as moving into a community like this."
Moving to a community like Cedar Crest has enriched her life with vibrant friendships, activities like the Resident Advisory Council [RAC] and Jewish Council, and cultural trips into the city.
"Every day is different," she says. "The RAC takes quite a bit of time. I eat with friends several times a week. I go out. I love to shop. Willowbrook Mall is 20 minutes away. When I go into the city with friends, I have lunch and see a matinee."
Dorothy says she looks forward to accomplishing a challenge she set for herself when she retired: learning to paint. Lucky for her, she can do that on campus by resident-led classes. She certainly has plenty of inspiration right inside her home.