Skip to content
Real Estate
Link copied to clipboard

A household in harmony

When romance comes to a couple in their 60s, how do they reconcile decades of diverse styles? Gracefully.

Peter and Anne Silverberg in the living room of their Delanco, N.J. home. (Ron Tarver / Staff Photograper)
Peter and Anne Silverberg in the living room of their Delanco, N.J. home. (Ron Tarver / Staff Photograper)Read more

When Anne Lubeck met Peter Silverberg back in 2003, she was divorced and he was a widower. Things clicked on their first lunch date at a South Jersey restaurant, and after some months a romance was budding.

At the time, Peter was living in the single-family home he had shared with his wife, and Anne had begun flirting with the notion of moving from her condominium in Edgewater Park to somewhat larger space.

As the romance progressed, and it was clear that marriage was in the offing, Anne became more proactive about moving. Peter took a little convincing.

"And then there was one of those miserable snowstorms - and six hours of shoveling to dig my way out - that convinced me that I was ready for an easier life," says Peter, 72, a retired chemical/electrical engineer and an editor of scientific magazines.

So the earnest search was on for a fresh start, a new home where their new life would begin. South Jersey is dotted with age-restricted communities, and they checked out all of them.

After several near-misses, Anne got a tip about a private sale in a community called Traditions at Newton's Landing in the riverfront town of Delanco.

"I'd already looked at a home there that didn't work out, so I was excited about another chance," she recalls.

She immediately drove by and loved the location, but when she returned that weekend with Peter, the "For Sale" sign was down. As it turned out, the owner had just removed it for the weekend, when she had to be away.

"The minute we walked in, we loved the place," says Anne, 73, who was delighted by the open floor plan, the abundance of light, and the expansive lawn.

Peter was just as delighted to find storage space - he is an avid collector of antique metalware, pottery, toys, and samovars and had launched a small business at a Haddonfield antiques co-op.

In just days, they signed on the dotted line, and in August 2005, Anne and Peter married and moved in.

But like so many couples who come to Act 2 with possessions aplenty, the Silverbergs' challenge was to blend his and hers into a unified whole, not a series of disconnected and colliding styles. They wanted to bring the past to the present but make it fit and harmonize.

With some strategic planning, some shedding, and the good fortune that they have common tastes, Anne, a retired reading specialist from the Willingboro school district, and Peter, the newly minted antiques dealer, managed that feat with grace.

No room has that furniture-store feeling, although Anne and Peter brought meaningful pieces from their prior lives.

Case in point: Though a new living-room breakfront they purchased together holds some of Peter's china and other treasures, every other piece of upholstered and occasional furniture for the room came from their former households.

Anne's modern kitchen table and chairs and the 1920s bedroom set inherited from her parents blend with pieces such as Peter's 19th-century dry sink and clothes tree.

A sun-splashed den just beyond the living room has two sofas - the only new upholstered pieces the couple has bought together.

A sweep of oak floor downstairs, a balcony overhanging the living room, granite countertops in the kitchen, and a garden tub in the master bathroom - all are part of their new interior landscape.

Peter's extensive collection of samovars has found a home primarily in the dining room but also is dispersed through the house. With engraved details, decorative feet, and elaborate handles, these were meant to heat and hold water for tea, and often were the only items carried by Russian emigres as they left for other countries.

His hammered-aluminum pieces, including trays, platters, and smoking stands, were popular from the 1930s to the 1950s. They are now collectibles that have the double blessing of being light and rustproof.

One of Anne's treasures - a patchwork quilt created for her by her fifth-grade Willingboro students - resides in an upstairs loft space where the couple hosts their children and grandchildren.

Another delight for Anne is the garden she has cultivated, following the unfinished plans of the former owners. Her green thumb is happily in motion with a profusion of azaleas, phlox, magnolias, hyacinths, holly, irises, petunias, and fragrant spices.

The Silverbergs have adapted to life in this enclave of 250 homes, within walking distance of the River Line and its links to transportation to Philadelphia and New York. They find themselves engaged by a roster of activities that includes aerobics and painting classes, Aquasize groups that meet at the large community-house pool, book groups, and trips.

Anne has caught collecting fever and helps her husband with his Haddonfield co-op. Non-gardener Peter volunteers with plant watering.

"But best of all," he says, "I don't ever have to mow the lawn or shovel snow again. This is definitely the good life."