By Robin Jovanovich
Moving from a family house to a one-bedroom apartment takes true grit and a keen, unsentimental eye. You have to be able to part with longtime possessions, and enjoy living through renovation, because you’ll need to maximize every inch. Closets take on new meaning when you have fewer of them.
When Sue Joyce moved back to Rye in 2018, after five years living in South Carolina, she was divorced and on her own for the first time in decades. “I wanted to simplify my life. Having grown up here, Rye was home for me. All I had to do was find a home I could afford,” she explained.
A one-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment on the top floor of Blind Brook Lodge on Milton Road fit the bill. Everything needed to be updated or rethought, but she appreciated the building’s integrity — “Blind Brook Lodge’s charm is in the details” — and realized, that by moving a few walls and opening up a few spaces, she would have a very comfortable, light-filled home.
While Sue doesn’t have an interior design degree, she does now have an eponymous design business. She’s in great demand because she has great taste, a practical side, and a solid understanding of building and renovation because her former husband, Steve Joyce, builds homes. “I learned a lot on the job!” she said.
The breakfast area at the apartment was redundant, with a dining area a few feet away, so Sue created a work area and plenty of file and storage space in its place.
To make the kitchen bigger, she extended the living room wall behind it and gained bookshelf space in the process.
She reworked the closets, eliminating or moving smaller ones and creating a walk-in closet in the master bedroom.
To dress up the living room, she added coffered ceilings. Wanting to give the granite counters in the kitchen a softer look, she had them leathered.
When she renovated the bathroom, she waterproofed the floor and installed a floating vanity and a no-step shower. “I was planning ahead, imagining that I’d be here forever,” she said.
But Covid-19 changed the landscape. Sue wanted a bigger home, one with another bedroom and bath for the times her dad came up from Florida, or her son and his family came over from Finland for a visit.
When a two-bedroom apartment at Blind Brook came on the market, Sue didn’t hesitate to buy it. “Interest rates are still low, and I figured out how to carve out another bathroom in the new apartment.”
When Sue Joyce isn’t overseeing renovations for clients or making them window treatments, you’ll find her working in the garden at the complex. “I’ve always loved to garden and when Steve was building spec houses, I helped with the landscape design. Recently, I decided that my Blind Brook garden needed a patio, and I’ve figured out how to do it myself.”
Donna McElwee of Houlihan Lawrence has the listing for Apartment B41 at Blind Brook Lodge. She and Sue Joyce have been friends since middle school. Open House Sunday from 1-3pm