Alden builds smaller, smarter way to live

With its creative use of space, modern-cottage design appeals to homebuyers of all ages

The past year has been an eye-opener for Alden Homes.
The builder launched a neighborhood of modern cottage-style homes in Mount Joy geared toward millennials, only to discover that the sleek, smart-technology designs appealed to a much wider demographic.
So wide, in fact, that when Alden tested one of those designs in Alden Place, its 55-plus community in Cornwall, it met with rave reviews — and an immediate sale.
Thinking outside the box is the philosophy at Alden Homes, and the new box they’ve created has gotten smaller and smarter — and increasingly popular.
“Square footage is a feeling, not a number,” says Bill Martin, Alden’s architectural designer and new homes consultant. “The minimalist attitude is infectious.”
The idea is to build a home with less fluff and more common sense. So maybe forgo a coffered ceiling for a built-in cubbie beneath the stairs where you can throw your keys.
That smaller and smarter design made its debut at The Gables at Elm Tree in Mount Joy. The community features one- and two-story single-family homes, along with duplex-style villas that are modified versions of the single-family designs.
The homes are designed to make the best and most creative use of space, with features like floating vanities in bathrooms and built-in desks beneath the stairs. They range in size from 1,300 to 1,900 square feet, but they live much larger, Martin says.
Each home at The Gables includes a package of wireless remote features by Lutron Electronics. Buyers can choose a certain number of functions to control remotely, such as turning on lights, a gas fireplace or air conditioning, unlocking a door or having a fan turn on automatically when you enter the bathroom.
With the technology already in place, Martin notes, adding additional functions in the future is relatively inexpensive.
“It’s a completely different feel than you’re going to get at any other home in Lancaster County,” he says.
Martin and Liz Borg, interior designer and director of sales, brought the flair of The Gables to Alden Place in October with the debut of The Elizabeth, designed with a mid-century modern, industrial feel — from its sleek white kitchen cabinetry and chrome door handles to its wall-mounted gas fireplace with gray ceramic tile surround.
The Elizabeth sold the day after its debut, and a second buyer signed a contract to build an identical home, right down to the smallest design detail.
Borg and Martin are now looking at ways to update existing floor plans in Alden Place to reflect some of those smarter design strategies. And they emphasize that buyers whose tastes lean away from the sleek and modern can achieve the same results with a more traditional look.
Alden Homes gives its buyers the freedom to personalize their homes far beyond fixtures and finishes. For Martin and Borg, nothing is more satisfying than breathing life into a house — however long it takes. They welcome buyers who want to take whiteout to the interior of one of their floor plans and start fresh.
“We could build your traditional box. We choose not to,” Borg says. “A house should have character no matter the size. You don’t have to have a home built in the 1800s anymore to have character. We’re bringing that back. We’re giving every space purpose.”
That can include anything from a built-in dog crate in the mudroom to a wall-peg wine rack designed to spell out words.
Despite the freedom of design, there are some features that come standard in each of Alden’s communities.
At the Gables, it’s things like hardwood flooring, a tile backsplash and that smart technology system.
At Alden Place, all homes are Energy Star Version 3 certified, meaning they are third party tested and meet strict EPA energy efficiency guidelines. As a result, total annual energy costs (gas and electric) for a home in Alden Place are estimated at under $1,200, Martin says.
So what’s next for Alden Homes?
The builder plans to debut a new model at Alden Place next spring.
And Borg and Martin hope to develop an even smaller home — something in the 1,000- to 1,100-square-foot range that will live like 1,500 square feet.
“Space is the most amazing thing in the world,” Martin says.
It’s all a matter of how you use it.
For more information about The Gables at Elm Tree or Alden Place, call 717-376-1199 or visit the design center at 100 Freeman Drive, Lebanon.

Directions to Alden Place: Follow Route 72 North toward Lebanon. In Quentin, turn right at Route 419 and follow for a half mile. Community is on right.
Directions to The Gables at Elm Tree: From Route 283, take the Mount Joy exit and turn onto Route 772 West. Turn left on Strickler Road, right on Cornerstone Drive, then right on Willow Creek Drive. The model home is on the right.