Sponsored content

mccarthy stone logo

There are many misconceptions about retirement living here in the UK – and one of the most widespread is the view that retirement properties are bland, boring, and generic when it comes to interiors. Though, in many cases, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

These days, retirement apartments are not only high quality and built specifically with over 60s in mind but they’re also perfect for personalisation. For many people, moving to a retirement community is a great opportunity for them to do just that – allowing them to create a home as unique as they are.

To give you a glimpse into what retirement living can look like, we teamed up with the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities, McCarthy Stone, and spoke to some of their homeowners.

Below, Gilly, Margaret, Val, Ann, John, and Geraldine explain how they’ve been able to put their own unique stamp on their homes and what retirement living means to them…

“Why be boring when you can be interesting?”

Why be boring when you can be interesting
Gilly Tillden at her home in Wellington, Somerset

For 83-year-old Gilly Tillden – who lives in Dukes Court, Wellington – retirement living offered the chance to become part of a like-minded community and make social connections…

Gilly says, “After my husband died, I began to feel cut-off and a bit lonely on my own. I wanted to have more people around me and be part of something again. I had a friend who had bought a McCarthy Stone apartment, so I went to have a look.”

Though Gilly was looking for a sense of community, it was the charming grounds at Dukes Court that piqued her interest. She explains, “I was really taken with the beautiful garden, and before I knew it, I’d reserved an apartment.”

As an interior design enthusiast, Gilly was also keen to put her own stamp on her apartment. She says, “I wanted to add my personal touch to the rooms right away, so I had it all repainted before I moved in. New dark grey carpets, new lights, and a new fire.

“I’d describe my space as warm, comfortable, and happy. When people see it, they instantly say, ‘Oh yes, this is very Gilly!’. To some people, it’s too much stuff. But to me, it’s all part of life’s experiences that surround me with happy memories every day. Why be boring when you can be interesting?”

“My style is an eclectic mix of traditional, antique, and modern”

My style is an eclectic mix of traditional, antique, and modern
Gilly’s home at Dukes Court

Being a keen antiquer, Gilly was excited to bring lots of her precious collection with her. “I was lucky enough to inherit lots of beautiful antique pieces from my parents,” says Gilly. “The most precious things are those given to you by the people you’re very fond of.”

Many of these pieces are blended into Gilly’s living space in, as she describes, “an eclectic mix of traditional, antique, and modern.”

Gilly isn’t the only person we spoke to who wanted to blend their own pieces into the design of their new home. McCarthy Stone homeowner, Margaret Kingsley-Smith, told us…

“I had several pieces that I was adamant about keeping when I moved in: a lovely chest of drawers in my bedroom, and a Scandi display cabinet where I keep photos, the children’s Denby Dream Weaver mugs, and some wooden carvings that my late husband bought for me from Rio.

“It’s an eclectic mix, but Emma helped to make sure it all fits seamlessly into the new look and feel of the apartment.”

Emma is Emma Valerio – a Home Design Stylist with the John Lewis Home Design Service. Margaret was lucky enough to be offered a home makeover worth up to £20,000 and she worked closely with Emma to create a beautiful and comfortable space that reflects her taste and personality.

Rest Less members who reserve a McCarthy Stone apartment before July 31st of this year also have a chance to win this same incredible opportunity.

“I’ve always loved making my home as lovely as possible,” Margaret says. “But being able to work with Emma enabled me to take it to a whole new level.”

You can take a look at the results of Margaret’s home makeover in the video below…

“When people hear ‘retirement living’, they incorrectly think it’s bland and boring - which couldn’t be further from the truth!”

When people hear ‘retirement living’, they incorrectly think it’s bland and boring - which couldn’t be further from the truth!
Val and Pete Newell at their home in St Ives

Although some new retirement apartment owners want to bring their furniture and fixtures with them and blend them into the design of their new living space, there are some, like Val and Pete Newell, 80 and 78, who want to use the move as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean.

Val says, “When people hear ‘retirement living’, they incorrectly think it’s bland and boring – which couldn’t be further from the truth! Like any home, you can look at the apartment with fresh eyes and it can be a chance to start from scratch if you want it to be.”

In fact, when they moved into their McCarthy Stone property in St Ives, the couple (who ran a booming bed and breakfast for over 30 years), decided to take very little from their old house…

“We only took the bed, two chairs, and the TV!” says Val. “That way, we could really make a mark on our new apartment.” And for Val and Pete, their new place became not just a home, but a rewarding creative project that they could share…

“My husband and I enjoyed working together to create this home. I tended to come up with the creative interiors inspiration and he helped with all the practical side of things – putting together any flat-pack furniture. It definitely gave us something fun to focus on.”

In the end, the Newell’s curated a bright, modern space that’s both bold and expressive.

“I couldn’t live somewhere with no colour. When I walk in, it uplifts me”

Ann Carroll’s home in Wokingham

There are no limits to how you can put a unique stamp on your new retirement apartment. And one homeowner who’s a perfect example of this is 83-year-old Ann Carroll who lives in Queen’s Gate in Wokingham.

After living in Spain for 15 years, fun-loving Ann was keen to bring a little bit of sunshine to her new home…

“I’ve added colour here, there, and everywhere with my collection of Spanish flamenco dancer paintings,” Ann tells us. “Everyone who visits loves the colour and vibrancy of the pictures. I couldn’t live somewhere with no colour. When I walk in, it uplifts me. People who visit say it has that effect on them too. Life’s just better in colour!”

With the sunshine shades of Spain running through her whole apartment, Ann has created a space that not only boosts her mood every day but also reminds her of a very special time in her life. Although, you don’t need to be a lover of brilliant colours to express yourself through interior design…

“While I’m not necessarily one for bright and bold, I wanted my apartment to reflect my character,” says John Pritchard, a homeowner in Blyton House, near Marlow. “I’ve brought my own style into the design using complementary colours, chrome touches, and modern furniture.”

“The finished design was better than we could have ever imagined. It’s us through and through”

The finished design was better than we could have ever imagined. It’s us through and through
John Pritchard’s home near Marlow

Putting a unique stamp on your new retirement apartment doesn’t have to be all about how it looks – it’s also about creating a home that best suits your way of life…

John is an active part of lots of local organisations, so it was important to him that his apartment included a space where he could focus on his charity work. “I’ve never had a second bedroom,” he says. “I quickly turned that space into my study. I drew sketches of how it could work and set about bringing it to life.

“It has the same modern feel as the rest of the property but is very much my ‘workspace’. Although, I did have a custom pull-down bed built in for when my daughters come to stay.

“When I’ve finished my work, I like to be able to close the door and instantly step into relaxation mode, so I made sure my interior design supported that.

“I also paid special attention to the lighting throughout my apartment, as this can make all the difference to your space. My study has bright lights for when I need to concentrate at work, whereas I have softer lighting in the lounge and a reading light if I want to relax with a good book.”

Similarly, Geraldine and John Harrison, who also got the opportunity to work with Emma from the John Lewis Home Design Service, wanted to create a home that was as practical as it was beautiful…

Geraldine says, “I love to cook and enjoyed a large kitchen in our last home. Emma suggested that we extend the worktop and include some floating shelves for storage. It not only looks brilliant, but I have even more workspace than before which is wonderful.

“The finished design was better than we could have ever imagined. It’s us through and through, all our friends and family comment: ‘it’s very much you’ as soon as they walk through the door. It’s just perfect.”

You can check out the end result of the Harrison’s home makeover in the video below…

Final thoughts…

Whether you’re a lover of bright, bold colours or your taste is a little more low key – a retirement property can be the perfect place to make your own.

McCarthy Stone have retirement communities all over the country, featuring a range of one and two-bedroom apartments and bungalows – most with access to charming communal gardens and lounges.

All McCarthy Stone developments are also conveniently located with shops and other amenities nearby, and have friendly house managers on-site. Some developments also have on-site bistros, wellness suites, and a team on-site 24 hours a day.

And if you reserve a McCarthy Stone apartment by the 31st of July 2022, you’ll receive a £500 John Lewis gift card as a welcome gift – so you can start putting your own unique spin on your new home – and the chance to win a complete property makeover worth up to £20,000. You can click here to see the terms and conditions of this offer.

To search McCarthy Stone properties across the UK, why not head on over to their website?

All Rest Less members who post in this thread will be entered into a prize draw where two lucky members will each receive a £50 Amazon voucher.