They live a lifestyle envisioned years ago

Dream Home

Charlestown: Forrest and Elaine Calhoun are enjoying retirement in a condo with all the amenities they had hoped for.

February 09, 2003|By Marie Gullard | Marie Gullard,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In 1993, Forrest and Elaine Calhoun placed their names and a $1,000 check on a "futures list."

Their action was a deposit on a dream lifestyle that they would pursue sometime down the line. While the Calhouns were not entirely sure of the exact home they'd call their own, they knew the retirement community of Charlestown in Catonsville would one day be their stomping ground. This 110-acre campus would provide everything they need.

Two years ago, they decided the time was right to claim their condominium and begin living their dream.

The couple reside in one of several buildings on the campus that is the former site of St. Charles Seminary in Baltimore County. The design of their particular building is in the shape of the letter W, allowing for many corner units within the six-story structure. The Calhouns live in one of them. Their marbled entrance foyer leads to a wide gallery, the walls on both sides covered with paintings, prints and photographs of eagles.

The gallery opens to a large living and dining room where the spaciousness of their 1,733-square-foot unit is apparent. One room flows into another in a circular motion. Windows with recessed sills punctuate the northeast and western walls. They overlook the bucolic vista of undeveloped Charlestown property.

Elaine's choice of muted, sea-green draperies juxtaposed with soft rose upholstery on traditional furniture lends an air of springtime to the surroundings. Impressionist paintings, their scenes celebrating sylvan beauty, are hung for optimum effect.

Choosing early

"Everything we display has meaning to us," said Elaine, who modestly takes credit for all of the decorating.

Knowing for several years that they would one day occupy this specific model of Charlestown condo, the Calhouns were able to discard unwanted pieces from their former town house while choosing and refurbishing selected furnishings that would complement the dimensions and layout of their new home.

A sunroom with bay windows is brightly decorated with wrought-iron tables, chairs, and a sofa - possessions now complemented by shades of yellow fabric. The area is a breakfast nook and TV room.

The white gloss of kitchen walls, appliances and cabinetry, with recessed lighting, lends to the rest of the home's warm tones.

Residents of Charlestown eat one daily meal of their choosing in dining rooms on the property. It is a social gathering that few residents skip.

"We have bought into the lifestyle of Charlestown [and] all of the options," Forrest said.

Paul and Gladys Belz are Charlestown residents who have visited the Calhoun unit.

"The Calhouns' [home] is very spacious and well-designed. [It] has a lovely view of the trees and the city," Gladys Belz said.

Forrest, 73, a retired superintendent at Patuxent Institution correctional facility in Jessup, said he feels he now is living his dream of an active and independent lifestyle. At the Calhouns' disposal are a variety of amenities including an indoor pool, a gymnasium, a salon and the opportunity to take college courses.

Forrest knows, too, that as long as he and Elaine choose to stay, they will never have to look for assisted living. Should that day come, the Charlestown campus transfers its residents to a nearby building that offers 24-hour dependent care from doctors and nurses.

Active since 1950 with the American Red Cross, Elaine, 72, enjoys her new role as chairwoman of the Western High School Alumnae Association at Charlestown.

Charlestown was built in 1983. Condominiums are priced between $61,000 and $414,000.

Borders for ceiling

The Calhouns, who have been married for 51 years, paid a refundable entrance fee in the vicinity of $350,000 to secure a top-of-the-line model at Charlestown.

The two-bedroom, two-bath suite also carries a $2,200 monthly fee that pays for the amenities.

"The only additional expenses we have are our phone bill and the cost of an assigned parking space and storage facility," Elaine said.

When asked about any changes she would like to make to her home, Elaine bubbles with enthusiasm ... and plans. She would love wallpapered borders along the ceiling as well as a few new touches to the kitchen.

When asked if she has any regrets about the move to her dream home in Charlestown, Elaine said: "Nope. Not for one second."

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