Downsizing in style

By Amber Tyner
Photos by Scott Rogers

One of the 11 models in Cresswind at Lake Lanier, the home of Phil and Judy Vinyard may look similar to the others owned by their surrounding neighbors—until you step inside.

The couple purchased their home in 2013 when downsizing after retirement, but wanted to change it from the similar houses in the active adult community.

“It was already built, so I didn’t get to choose anything, which was kind of a bummer,” Judy said. “You’ve got to differentiate yourself.” So that’s exactly what the 70-year-old man and 72-year-old woman did.

“All the rooms were beige, so my husband painted every room in this house before the furniture came,” she said. “I actually worked with a decorator who I used as a consultant for my color schemes and things, like picking out wall paints and things like that.”

They also hired contractor Shawn Kangas to make a few renovations to the 2012 home. “We had him do some preliminary work on the house before we moved in,” she said, mentioning that Kangas installed a double mantle and bookcases in their great room as well as screened in their back porch.

The house, which is 2,800 square feet on the main floor, also features a master suite, two smaller bedrooms, a living room, kitchen and even an office.

“I was basically looking for a house that fit my furniture,” Judy said with a chuckle. “I had to have certain rooms of certain sizes.” The couple also has a basement that adds 2,000 more square feet to the house, which Kangas helped form into what Phil and Judy were looking for, too.

“We did our basement differently than most people,” she said. “They have more walls than we do. We took down things that didn’t matter to us so that we could open it up and turn it into what we would use. It just won an award in Cresswind for the most unique basement design.”

The downstairs includes another office, living room, sitting room and a master suite, and it also has a bar and cedar closet. “That’s our favorite part of the house now,” she said.


“I actually worked with a decorator who I used as a consultant
for my color schemes and things, like picking out wall paints and
things like that.”

And while the couple enjoys all the customized aspects of their home, they also love the neighborhood they chose to reside in.

“We originally thought we were going to retire in Tennessee,” Judy said. “It was kind of remote. I was a little concerned that there would not be enough for me to do there.”

So that’s why they looked into Cresswind and decided to move from their previous home in Milton.

“This is kind of like being in high school in some respects because everybody is basically your age with very similar interests,” Phil said. “We’ve just loved it.”

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