Ageless Living

I don’t get the appeal of adults-only residential communities.

No offense. But why, when you’re 55-plus, would you want to squeeze any more youth from your existence?

To my ears, few sounds are sweeter than the high-pitched voices of children floating across neighborhood lawns on summer nights. Restricted-age streets mean no reappearance of yellow school buses after Labor Day (and the memories they evoke). No snowmen or trick-or-treaters. No rite-of-spring debut of newborns bundled in strollers.

The trade-off? Peace and quiet, I suppose. Except for the homeowners’ association pool at happy hour, where cocktails can be consumed without the concern of child safety.

On the topic of safety, security studies suggest that the presence of children’s toys in a yard can help deter break-ins because an “elderly” home can signal vulnerability.

Somewhere between young-adults only living (college towns where front-lawn barbecuing and couches on the porch are the norm) and older-adults only living (pristine enclaves where irrigation systems keep the begonias bright and the golf course green) things get boring.

Hollywood loves the extremes of that residential spectrum. In the language of cinematic clichés, the lovable guy lives in a house with a front porch, a scruffy mutt, and crayon drawings on the refrigerator. The guy you don’t like has chrome, leather, and a naked Sub-Zero. In one Florida community, some would say the villains are the homeowners who wanted a 6-year-old evicted from her grandparents’ adults-only home. But that’s a complicated story.

In the language of interior design, the gulf between restricted and unrestricted living is like the difference between rooms full of same-generation furnishings and ones with a blend of old, new, inherited, and bought.

Mixing ages and eras is a good thing, in most regards.

In this issue, cookies, large-format books, Christmas music, and stocking stuffers share space with two sophisticated residences (ones where big dogs and family play freely, by the way). For contrast, we’ve also included a conversation with makeup artist Todd Skog, whose eclectic Royal Oak home reflects his boyhood (and grown-up) affection for miscellaneous oddities.

While most of us maintain a pretty buttoned-up exterior after a certain age, we also play along at the holidays, conspiring to set a festive stage from Valentine’s Day through Christmas.

It’s for the kids, homeowners might say, which is partly true. b