Grandpa's got a brand new home

Now the clean and contemporary interiors look has hit the retirement market.
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The Independent Online

Out goes the chintz, in comes the contemporary look as 21st-century retirement purchasers opt for modern living. It's not that the age profile of buyers is much younger than it was, it's just that their mentality has changed. They want a brand new start, rather than somewhere in which to grow old gracefully.

Out goes the chintz, in comes the contemporary look as 21st-century retirement purchasers opt for modern living. It's not that the age profile of buyers is much younger than it was, it's just that their mentality has changed. They want a brand new start, rather than somewhere in which to grow old gracefully.

Henry and Sarah Green, who bought a cottage in an English Courtyard development last year, felt that their new home gave them a chance to change their whole environment. "After 30 years of living with the same furnishings, we felt that a new home merited a new look," said Mr Green.

"Fabric and furnishings have changed a lot in the last decade, so it was exciting to be able to buy everything new. We were inspired by the show home with its clean contemporary feel and chose much of our new furniture on similar lines."

Denise Sharpe, who runs Denise Sharpe Interiors, has worked with English Courtyard for the last 10 years, furnishing their show homes and also supplying furnishings and furniture to people who have bought one of the retirement flats or cottages.

"People have a much more enthusiastic approach to life now," she says. "They are looking forward to new hobbies and many are planning to spend six months of the year abroad.

"People are looking for fitted studies, whereas before an old desk would have done and quite often both the husband and wife will have laptops, so there needs to be room for two computers plus a broadband connection. And more and more people come with an amazing book collection, which some years back they might have happily put into a freestanding book case. Now they want the bookshelves all built-in."

English Courtyard is also continually revamping its kitchens to keep up with changing requirements and are now putting in double ovens and free-standing microwaves. "If someone buys early enough, they can make alterations to the kitchen, the internal design, even increase their garden space," says Kevin Holland, the company's sales and marketing director.

"If they wanted granite worktops and Shaker-style kitchens with stainless steel handles, that is one of the options we offer and in our larger house designs, many people are now asking for a study area on the spacious landing, with built-in shelves and computer table."

Current EC developments are at Eylesden Court in Bearsted, Kent, where two- and three-bedroom apartments, cottages and houses are priced from £395,000 to £535,500 and at St Mary's Court in Old Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where two-bedroom cottages and apartments are priced from £510,000 to £635,000.

Mary James was living in a two-bedroom bungalow in Berkshire, but after her husband died she wanted a change of lifestyle and moved into a two-bedroom apartment at a Beechcroft retirement development. "I wanted a brand-new home with new furniture, new look and new memories," she says. "I loved the contemporary style of the apartments, the open plan living/dining room and the very smart stainless steel appliances - all things I had never had before."

Mrs James had a wood floor put down in the living area, cream carpets fitted upstairs and bought modern light ash furniture and dining table. "This has given me a completely new lease of life," she said.

Beechcroft, which has developments for the over-55s in Surrey, Berkshire and Dorset, has been putting in swimming pools for some time, but over the last five years has amended its internal designs to fit in with purchaser's requirements.

"Our buyers don't want large formal dining rooms, but prefer kitchen/breakfast rooms and larger drawing rooms," says Angela South, Beechcroft's sales and marketing director. "So we have created dining halls in many of our properties, which could be used as a study or extra reception area as well."

The company describes the design of its homes as "contemporary classic" and it uses soft colours inside - pale greens or blues, mixed with creams and earth tones. "Purchasers are no longer looking for dated brass light fittings and switches, but prefer stylish chrome," she says. "They want double, rather than single showers, high quality contemporary units in the kitchens, and stainless steel ovens and integrated appliances are absolute necessities," she adds.

Current Beechcroft developments include Bramley Grange, near Guildford, Surrey, where there is a three-storey house and three apartments priced from £295,000 to £595,000; Spire View in Iwerne Minster, Dorset with apartments and houses from £275,000 to £485,000 and Copperbeech Place, Newbury with two- and three-storey houses priced from £395,000.

Motcombe Grange, near Shaftesbury, Dorset, a development of retirement apartments within a converted former prep school, even has its own gym with cycling, rowing and walking machines. "My wife Jane and I moved into our two bedroom flat last November," says Patrick Gubbins, who is 92 years old.

"We are very pleased with it. As I am not very mobile, I am particularly enjoying using the cycling machine and now do 15 minutes on it every day."

For those feeling less energetic, there is a snooker room, croquet lawn and even a bar. The rooms of the apartments are large, elegant and decorated in a pale palette of colours with not a pattern or stripe in sight. "I wanted to provide gracious surroundings for someone looking for active retirement with independent living," says Nikki Lewis, who has masterminded this project. Humberts are selling the two- and three-bedroom apartments, which range from £249,000 to £540,000.

Margaret and Bill Crompton are just about to move into a new two bedroom cottage at Banner Homes' Clarence Court retirement development in Wendover, Hampshire.

"We've lived in our family four-bedroom house with a large garden in Wendover for 40 years," says Mrs Crompton. "We wanted to stay in the area and when we saw this, we jumped at the opportunity.

"The homes are so modern, even my daughter would love them. All the kitchens are fitted out with the latest white goods - the cottage is crammed full of new technology.

"We have a nice patio with access to pretty gardens and are really looking forward to being able to enjoy all our hobbies without having to worry about maintaining the garden and house."

Prices at Clarence Court range from £315,000 to £350,000. Other developments include The Deans at Chandlers Ford, Hampshire, where two-bedroom apartments start at £195,000 and Cobham Grange in Cobham, Surrey, where one- and two-bedroom apartments will be priced from £250,000 to £600,000. The show home opens in the autumn.

And at Court Royal in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, a development of 30 one- and two- bedroom apartments and penthouses for the over-55s, there are designer kitchens, contemporary bathrooms. Purchasers can use the Concierge Plus Service, to organise nights out or travel arrangements. Brand New Homes is selling the apartments, which start at £219,950.

The old days... and the new look

* Floral/chintz patterns

* Dark wood

* Functional design

* Free-standing fridges

* Beige tiling

* Utilitarian taps

* Gas fires with flowing effect coals

* Communal living rooms

* Neutral, plain colours

* Light wood

* Interesting design

* Integrated fridges

* White tiling

* Modern looking taps

* Real flame effect fire with stone surround

* Gym/leisure space