Ranch home in new community offers less maintenance, more amenities

Pat and Gay Blenke spent a lot of time on the weekends cleaning their 4,500-square-foot Suwanee home and doing yard work. They were ready to downsize and looked for a ranch home with a master bedroom on the main level.

A model home in the Sterling on the Lake, a community in Flowery Branch, offered 11-foot ceilings, energy-efficient appliances and plenty of windows for natural light. The house was in The Springs section, a new active-adult neighborhood, which provides amenities such as lawn maintenance as part of the homeowner’s association fee. Sterling on the Lake also offered pools, tennis courts and trails for their kids and grandchildren when they visit.

Pat, 60, a retired Georgia high school principal, and Gay, 58, a data specialist at North Gwinnett High School, chatted about the four-bedroom home they bought in the community near Lake Lanier.

Q: Why did you decide to buy?

Pat: We're ready to go out and travel and enjoy ourselves. We also wanted to downsize and find a community that had extracurricular activities. As we get older and the kids (Tate, 27, Annelise, 25, and Cara, 22) decide to come back with their kids, we want to be able to entertain them and the grandkids without having to tear up the house.

Q: How did you find this house?

Gay: We had a friend who had downsized and moved to a new home in a development not far from here. We started looking at different communities in the area where her builder was and stumbled on Sterling on the Lake. We didn't realize everything it had to offer until we visited the community and fell in love with the Stonecrest Homes model with an open floor plan.

Q: How was the building process?

Pat: It was very smooth and went quicker than we expected. We have a great warranty where Stonecrest Homes comes two weeks, 12 months and 18 months after closing to repair items at no cost to us. Every house settles, and when it does, you find mistakes. This (arrangement) feels like three different walk-throughs, and we really appreciate that.

Q: What do you love about the home?

Gay: We added a sunroom, an upgraded gourmet kitchen, upgraded tile and granite in the bathroom and hardwood (floors) in the main room. We love the sunroom and being in the lot next to the dog park. The open floor plan gives the home a brightness and light airy feeling.

Q: How have you decorated?

Gay: Because we downsized, we had the opportunity to get rid of 30 years of clutter we accumulated so we could have a more minimal look in this home. We decided to go with a more contemporary style with our furnishings and buy new furniture that fits the modern traditional lifestyle we wanted to have. At this point, it's not so much about having the "stuff" as having the lifestyle where we can pick up and leave and travel.

Q: What advice do you have about downsizing?

Pat: Many people want to downsize after their children leave, but what keeps them in place is the fact that they don't want to go through their accumulated belongings and get rid of it, sell it or store it. We had three yard sales in a year when we knew we were ready to downsize. It sure is easier to maintain this house than our other one.

At a Glance

Gay and Pat Blenke’s new home has four bedrooms, three bathrooms and 2,300 square feet. Homes in Sterling on the Lake, a Hall County community, range from the low $300,000s to the mid $400,000s. They were assisted by Melanie Burruss with Engel & Volkers Buckhead Atlanta.