Scaling Down in Style

When you live in a sprawling home, you have room to express your individuality with treasured possessions and decorative treatments.


Yet all that unrestricted space makes it tricky when the time comes to scale down and move to a retirement home.

But one Winnetka couple was pleasantly surprised when they decided to make the leap and landed at The Mather in Evanston. With a little help and a lot of pruning, they were able to fit everything they wanted into their new place.

”We thought we weren’t old enough. Or ready. But we had a lot of house. We were only using three rooms,” confides Pat Horne, who lived in a three-story, six-bedroom Spanish Colonial in Winnetka for almost three decades with her husband Peter and their five children.

It was full of family treasures, such as an oak console from Peter’s mother, carved from a tree outside the Sheridan Road home where she was born. Factor in Pat’s retailing career (she owned Multiple Choices in Winnetka for 23 years), and the possessions grew. “I had seven sets of china,” she laughs.

Reality hit when they got the floor plans for their unit, which was 1800 square feet. Fortunately, they got in at the right time. “The interiors were about to be built out, so we could make changes,” explains Peter.

“We gave the plans to Geno Benvenuti, who did our home,” says Pat. The Evanston builder came up with space-optimizing architectural changes including a fireplace surround with built-in shelves, custom millwork in the bedroom to create a cove for reading lights and storage, and a computer center for their matching iMacs. He also eliminated a pass-through from the kitchen to dining room to accommodate more cabinets and combined two small bathrooms to create a larger one with a laundry center. The Hornes eliminated a bathtub in favor of a spacious shower with a seat. “Tubs take up too much space and they’re hard to get out of anyway,” observes Pat.

As for their treasured possessions, “we had to learn to let go,” sighs Pat. But they also figured out how to recycle what they truly loved. Amy Cook, a former Multiple Choices manager turned interior designer, helped them measure and refit possessions for their new space. Sofas were recovered; the prized console and a dining set were cut down and they gave a lot to their kids.

Among the bounty she passed on is an item all are sure to treasure. “I took shots of every room in our house and made them into albums for each of our children,” she says.