When it comes to home design, there are two types of people: those who want a home that is turnkey and those who prefer to put their stamp on it. Eileen Lewis is the latter.
When Eileen and her late husband Bill decided to sell their Severna Park, Md., home and move to Charlestown, the Erickson Living-managed community in Catonsville, they looked at a number of apartments. Ultimately, it came down to two choices: a one-bedroom move-in-ready apartment on the third floor and another completely gutted, blank slate on the fifth floor. They chose the blank slate.
"The minute we walked into this apartment, it was so bright and beautiful, Bill said, 'This is the one,'" Eileen recalls. "We liked the fact that we were able to choose everything that went into the apartment. Bill said, 'This is our forever home, so we are going to make it exactly the way we want it.'"
Ordinary to extraordinary
Transforming a blank slate into the home of their dreams was easy with the help of Charlestown's Custom Interiors Department. Upgrades like chair rail and crown molding, custom paint colors, a custom-made entertainment system and bookshelf, and a peninsula with granite countertops and storage helped turn their new apartment into a unique, beautiful home.
"I love to cook and bake. I use my peninsula to roll out breads and pies. I pass treats out to my neighbors. I have friends over for lunch and dinner. In fact, last year, I had my family come. There were 15 of us, and we had hors d'oeuvres and drinks and exchanged gifts," says Eileen, mother of eight, including a step-daughter and two sets of twins, as well as 13 grandchildren.
Charlestown updates every apartment home that is reoccupied by new residents in a variety of ways, including fresh paint, new flooring, cabinets and countertops, and new stainless steel appliances. However, many residents, like Eileen, are eager to create their own unique space, whether it's with simple changes like new window coverings and lighting or custom carpentry work and storage solutions.
Custom Interior's design services are complimentary for residents, who simply pay the cost of materials and labor. All work is completed by trusted specialty vendors that have been approved by Charlestown.
Shortly after moving into their new place in 2018, Bill passed away. Throughout that difficult time, Eileen was comforted knowing they had made the right decision.
"At first, it was a hard decision for Bill to move because he loved the house so much," says Eileen. "We had a screened porch with two decks on the back that overlooked a ravine, and it was beautiful. Aside from that, I don't miss anything about the house. It was just too much to worry about."
Without the worries of a house, Eileen can focus on spending her time doing what she loves.
"I use the fitness center. We have a lovely lake where you can sit and read or do whatever you want. I take classes at the community college. I love learning. I think it keeps you moving forward all the time," says Eileen. "I also travel a lot. I just shut the door and go. I spent a good part of the summer in Boston with my sister, and last fall, I traveled to France for five weeks with a friend of mine. We spent four days in Paris and then we took a train and went to Brittany and stayed in a little village where my daughter and son-in-law have a home."
Home is her happy place
No matter where her travels take her, Eileen says there is no place like home.
"I live a very busy life, which I love, but when I walk in the front door, I'm so happy to come home to solitude," says Eileen. "I have a large picture window in my living room with a beautiful view where I watch the sunset every evening. It's so sunny and peaceful and the community is really beautiful and lovely. I couldn't be happier."