At Willow Valley, living small means living big

Community residents discover that ‘home’ extends far beyond their four walls

For many of those considering a move to Willow Valley Communities, life has changed drastically since their childhoods — especially when it comes to living space.
Back in 1950, the average home size was 985 square feet, notes Ric Myers, Willow Valley’s director of sales. Today, home size has ballooned 270 percent, to 2,662 square feet.
Long gone are the days of shared bedrooms and baths. Homes are filled with extra space, including offices, flex rooms, formal dining and living rooms, exercise rooms and finished basements.
But, do we really need all that space?
It’s a question Myers asks regularly during a program called “Living Small to Live Big,” held every other month at Willow Valley for prospective residents.
And the answer, he says, is no — at least not when you have all that Willow Valley has to offer right at your doorstep.
The community hopes to share that point Thursday, May 4, when it hosts its Lakes Showcase of Homes Tour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visitors will have the opportunity to tour seven residences — some models and others occupied by residents.
“A lot of times people have to touch space,” Myers says. “They can’t see an empty space and see what could be done. But they relate when they walk in to someone’s home and see how they live.”
For some people, a den or office might be a necessity. For others, simply having a kitchen island and a wireless laptop might do the trick.
“We help people think about how much space they really need,” he says. “Don’t look at square footage. Look at how space is laid out and how you live your life.”
Most people live primarily in their kitchen, family room and bedroom space. Myers encourages prospective residents to think of their residence unit as that primary living space and the rest of Willow Valley’s amenities as an extension of that space.
Between its two campuses, Willow Valley offers 11 dining venues featuring locally sourced ingredients; an 80,000-square-foot Cultural Center with fitness and aquatic centers, day spa, art gallery and 500-seat theater; and a 30,000-square-foot Clubhouse, featuring a bowling alley, vintage arcade, outdoor pool and tennis courts.
There are also more than 100 clubs, craft and art studios, woodworking shops, gardening plots, stocked fishing ponds and model railroad platforms for those who want to follow their passion or find a new one.
For those reluctant to give up dining rooms or extra bedrooms, Myers notes that Willow Valley has guest suites and private dining areas that residents can reserve.
Many of the amenities, such as the arcade and bowling alley, encourage intergenerational activity, Myers says. The community also hosts an annual summer camp for grandchildren.
And with Willow Valley’s Lifecare program, residents will receive any care they may need in the future without a change in their monthly fee.
Even for those ready to live smaller, downsizing (Willow Valley refers to the process as “right-sizing”) can be a daunting task, particularly when it comes to parting with possessions. Willow Valley can help with that, too.
The community’s design center not only gives residents the tools to customize their new home, but it also offers the services of a space planner who can help them figure out what to take and what to leave behind from their old home.
Living smaller has multiple benefits. For one, residents don’t have the upkeep of a larger living area. More importantly, they spend less time alone and more time enjoying their extended home — and becoming part of a larger community.
“We don’t want people to sit in their home,” Myers says. “We want them out and about to experience everything. To live life forward!”
For more information or to attend the Lakes Showcase of Homes Tour, call 1-866-655-1441 or email rsvp@willowvalley.org.